|For Immediate Release
August 30th, 2004
(714) 347-8405 (O)
(714) 323-4486 (C)
CHARGES FILED IN A 35-YEAR-OLD COLD CASE,MOTHER AND EX-BOYFRIEND ARE ACCUSED OF MURDERING 3-YEAR-OLD CHILD
Santa Ana – Donna J. Prentice, 57, of Genoa, Wisconsin has been charged with the murder of her three-year-old daughter, Michelle Pulsifer, in 1969. James Michael Kent, 62, of Lakemoor, Illinois, Prentice’s former boyfriend, has also been charged with murder in the case. The crime is believed to have occurred while the couple lived together in a home on Tigerfish Circle in Huntington Beach. If convicted both Prentice and Kent face a sentence of 5 years to life in state prison.
The case came to the district attorney’s TracKRS unit from a private investigator that was hired by Michelle’s aunt to look into her disappearance. Donna Prentice and her two children were living with Michael Kent and his son in 1969. Sometime around the Fourth of July, Michelle went missing. Within a few days the couple moved all of their belongings, the two remaining children, and the family pets to Illinois. They told the children that there was not enough room in the car for Michelle and instead she would stay in California with relatives. No missing persons report was filed and no one heard from Michelle again. TracKRS spent over a year investigating the case from coast to coast, interviewing witnesses and the defendants in Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Las Vegas, and California.
“What the TracKRS investigation revealed was a series of lies and mistruths about Michelle’s whereabouts. In fact, we have concluded that she never left that home alive,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “We look forward to trying this case in a court of law and to finally bringing justice for Michelle Pulsifer.”
Formed in 1997, TracKRS stands for Task force review aimed at catching Killers, Rapists and Sexual offenders. The unit provides resources for investigators throughout the county. TracKRS focuses on homicide cases and sexual assaults and maintains a database of information on more than eight thousand cases dating back to 1960.
This morning, the arraignment for Kent was continued until September 10, 2004. This afternoon in Vernon County, Wisconsin, Prentice chose to fight extradition. Formal extradition procedures are now under way. Prentice’s next hearing is set for September 22, 2004, in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin has been assigned to prosecute the case here in Orange County.