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10 Years Later, The Murder of a Chico State Student Remains Unsolved

535 Hazel Street, December 5, 2013. Photo by Nick Dobis
535 Hazel Street, December 5, 2013. Photo by Nick Dobis
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Updated: 12/05/2013 6:11 pm

By Nick Dobis, News Web/Social Media Producer

Ten years ago this evening, the silence of a December night was shattered by the sound of a single gunshot.

On December 5, 2003, 22-year-old Chico State student Christopher Herrmann was callously shot in the head on his front porch at 535 Hazel St. The case remains one of the Chico Police Department’s longest running cold cases.

“I remember being horrified that a crime like that could actually happen here,” said Joe Wills, Public Affairs Director at Chico State as he reflected on his reaction to hearing the news the next day. “I remember everyone being shocked and scared, then not hearing much about it too long afterwards. It appeared to be a crime without rhyme or reason, and not one you expect to read about in our community.”

Because campus records were not completely digitized in 2003 and records of deceased students are not kept, little information remains of Herrmann’s time as a student at Chico State. Wills was able to confirm Herrmann began his collegiate career at Chico State in the fall of 2001 in the Marketing/Business Administration Department. At the time of his death, he was at a senior level with his units and could have graduated from the university shortly. Herrmann was originally from Sacramento where he attended Christian Brothers High School. 

The Chico Police Department’s Investigation’s Unit was not available to comment on the case today. According to the police department’s website, officers responded to 535 Hazel Street to a report of a man down around 8:30 p.m. that night. The call was made by a friend of Herrmann, who had spoken to him about 15 minutes prior to Herrmann being shot. 

Responding officers arrived to find Herrmann on the front porch of the residence with a single gunshot wound to the head.  He was latter pronounced dead at Enloe Medical Center.

There were no witnesses, and even less evidence to solidly cement a motive for the murder. According to Chico News & Review story from 2009, Greg Keeny, a Sergeant for the police department at the time, stated to the weekly paper the house Herrmann was the sole occupant of contained cocaine, meth, and marijuana which appeared to be packaged for distribution. We have yet to independently verify this information with a current detective at the department.

This drug motive was also speculated by a high school friend of Herrmann in a January 14,according to a 2004 online article of The Red & Black.

As the years pass, the media reports regarding the murder become less frequent, and the chances of finding Herrmann’s killer remain as cold as the December air surrounding 535 Hazel Street tonight. 

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