CBS47 Investigation: The Mysterious Case of Missing McFarland City Manager, John Wooner


CBS47 and the rest of the valley are still waiting for the Kern County coroner to identify the body found inside an SUV submerged in the Kern River over the weekend.

Speculation is, it’s 57-year-old John Wooner, McFarland’s City Manager who has been missing for nearly 3 months now.

City of McFarland interim Police Chief, Janet Davis says, “It is sad, it is a sad situation and everything about it is sad.”

Wooner was last seen on May 14th, driving his city issued Dodge into a Bakersfield cemetery.

He drove into Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Bakersfield police say he went to the gravesite of his estranged father.

The only thing investigators will confirm is that Wooner is still considered to be missing under suspicious circumstances.

Questions to the Bakersfield Police Department lead to a dead end.

“What I can tell you is anything related to Mr. Wooner at this point is a personnel matter. Unfortunately because of that we cannot make any statements,” says Davis.

Silence isn’t sitting well with McFarland residents.

They tell CBS47 since the city manager went missing they’ve been forced to pay more money for such things as water.

Victor Oropeza owner of Big-Vic’s Barber Shop in McFarland says, “What did he leave behind for all of us? Our rates are going up, things are changing, and we’d like to know if that has to do with him being gone? Right now, we are left with so much in the air. We don’t know now he’s gone, our water rates are going up, what else is going to change? Did he take any money? We don’t know, we just want answers.”

McFarland city officials say the rise in water rates is totally legitimate.

They say rates have not been raised in over 20 years and the money is needed for infrastructure.

Officials also said there is no indication of any wrongdoing by Wooner.

Davis says, “The city of McFarland has an audit done by an external auditor each year. There was no indication what so ever. We are in the process of having our current year done. No indication what so ever.”

CBS47 tried to get a comment from Wooner’s family.

But they are not talking.

Although authorities recovered the missing silver Dodge Durango in the Kern River over the weekend.

There are still a lot of questions.

Questions like, why were the license plates missing, along with the hood and windshield?

Investigators hope some of those questions will be answered after identification is made on the body.

CBS47 will continue to follow the latest developments on this story.

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