Man arrested for woman's murder in Palm Springs

Friends and neighbors speak on homicide

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.- - A man has been arrested for an alleged murder in Palm Springs on Monday.

75-year-old Stephen McKernan was arrested Monday evening on suspicion of murder. McKernan was a house guest in a home on Pico Road, where he was staying with the victim, identified as 75-year-old Claire Carsman, and her husband who he knew for several years, according to a PSPD news release. 

At 6:00 p.m. on April 22, Palm Springs Police Department officers responded to the 300 block of Pico Road where they found a deceased elderly woman who suffered from 'significant trauma' at the residence. PSPD Sgt Mike Casavan said officers had received the call from McKernan.

"We received a call from Stephen McKernan," Casavan told News Channel 3. "He advised us that he found the woman with some trauma to her."

Investigators determined that McKernan was responsible for the homicide and he was arrested at 8:15 p.m. 

Although police said McKernan was friends with Carsman, her former caretaker said she doesn't recognize him.

"That's a lie, I don't believe that at all. That's false information. Whoever is saying that cause I was there for four years and she never even mentioned him," said Christine Cromwell, Carsman's former caretaker. "She was very particular about who was in her home."  

Carsman's husband said he said he did not want to talk about the situation as to not jeopardize the investigation. He passed then passed the phone to a friend who said the family is asking for privacy. The friend did say Carsman was a generous and intelligent woman and that she liked and trusted McKernan.

According to jail records, McKernan is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta. He is facing 1st-degree murder charges and is being held on $1 million bail. McKernan is scheduled to appear at the Indio Justice Center on Thursday.

The investigation is ongoing; anyone with information relating to the case is urged to contact the Palm Springs Police Department Detective Bureau at 760-778-8411. Tips can also be reported to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

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