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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Parole Board Denies Parole to Petaluma Man who Murdered Wife in 1982

Santa Rosa, CA  –  June 27, 2019  –  The California Board of Prison Terms once again denied parole to Larry Richard Bunke, who was convicted of Second Degree Murder in the brutal beating death of his wife, Linda, in May of 1982. This was his 11th parole opportunity.

Bunke killed his wife shortly after they had separated and he moved to Roseville. Bunke returned and killed her at the home they had previously shared in Petaluma. Around midnight the night before Linda’s murder, Bunke arrived at the house unannounced. Realizing that the victim was not home, he parked in the garage of her residence so that she would not see his car, and awaited her return. He confronted her when she entered the home in the morning, then pursued her outside as she tried to flee the residence. Having been beaten by Bunke in the past, the victim began screaming for help. Bunke caught her and began beating her with his fist to stop her screaming. She stumbled into a neighbor’s driveway where she collapsed, unconscious. Bunke initially fled the scene, but returned minutes later after realizing how badly he had hurt her, and carried her back into the house. Once inside, instead of rendering aid to his wife, Bunke continued to beat her with his belt, including the buckle, as she lay unconscious on the floor of the kitchen. Eventually he called his father, saying “I beat her real bad.” Linda Bunke was hospitalized but never regained consciousness. She died 5 days later of multiple traumatic head injuries. The couple had two small children together, who fortunately were not home at the time their father murdered their mother.

A hearing was held earlier this week at the California State Prison in Solano, to determine whether Bunke should be released on parole. After taking testimony from Bunke, reviewing his prison files and psychological evaluations, and hearing arguments from both sides, the 2-member panel issued a 3- year parole denial. Because Bunke is now 70 years old, he is eligible for consideration for early release under California’s “Elder Parole” rule. However, the panel found that, despite his age, Bunke continues to pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the community if released. The panel specifically noted that Bunke continues to place blame on his wife and others for the fatal beating, lacks any true understanding of domestic violence, and continues to actively demonstrate unresolved anger issues which require significant therapy. Bunke will not be eligible for parole again until 2022, although he is entitled to petition for an earlier hearing.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Masterson appeared at the hearing in opposition to Bunke’s release on behalf of the People, along with victim advocate Makeeba Kadri, Petaluma Police SGT Paul Gilman, and more than a half dozen of Linda Bunke’s surviving family members.

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