Dismemberment case arrest made
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun
SAN BERNARDINO - A woman was arrested Friday on suspicion of killing a 73-year-old developmentally disabled man she was caring for in her home.
The arrest of Charmain Louise Bergmann came 10 months after the dismembered remains of Charles Gillespie were found dumped in two locations about 30 miles apart.
Police arrested Bergmann, 54, at her North E Street home about 4 p.m., police Sgt. William Hanley said.
County prosecutors on Friday charged Bergmann with one count of murder and elder abuse in the Oct. 29 stabbing death of Gillespie, Hanley said.
Hanley cited the diligence of detectives and crime-scene investigators who collected abundant evidence from Bergmann's home in the 3300 block of North E Street in the days following Gillespie's death.
He also gave a nod to the Coroner's Office and the sheriff's crime lab in helping put together the case.
"There's been a team of detectives working on this, despite a heavy caseload, for nearly a year now," said Hanley. "It's something that's always been on our priority list, and while there's still work to be done, we're optimistic about our efforts so far."
A woman walking her dog discovered Gillespie's torso near a bathroom at Wildwood Canyon Park about 6:30 a.m. Oct. 30.
About four hours earlier, a group of men headed to Silverwood Lake discovered Gillespie's head, legs and arms stacked in a turnout on Highway 138.
Detectives noted a stench of bleach emitting from the remains, which also had human bite marks on them.
During a search of Bergmann's home, where Gillespie resided, detectives found a bloodstained carpet in Gillespie's bedroom and blood spatter on the walls, an entertainment center and a pillow, authorities said. A hacksaw blade and a bottle of a Clorox bleach were found in the kitchen, according to search warrants filed in court.
Bergmann will be arraigned either Monday or Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court, Hanley said.
Before moving into Bergmann's home in 2005, Gillespie resided at the Breezy Hill Guest Home in Fontana for about 15 years.
Vernall and Janette Townsend of Rialto own the guest home for developmentally disabled people and knew Gillespie well. They helped organize his funeral in January.
"Wow! I'm speechless," Vernall Townsend said Friday after learning of Bergmann's arrest. "I know Charmain, and if the evidence points to her, let justice be served."
He said residents and employees of Breezy Hill have often called to inquire about the disposition of Gillespie's case. They often wondered if an arrest would ever be made, Townsend said.
"Because of all the other issues going on (with the San Bernardino Police Department) ... I was wondering if this was going to be one of the cold cases," said Townsend, who is also the vice president of the Rialto-Fontana branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"We knew Charles for so long 15-plus years and just thinking of how he was murdered and dismembered, it takes all that we have to keep our composure."