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A motorcyclist’s shooting death leaves investigators puzzled.

Michael Hunter

Paramedics were unable to save him


He may have gone to an isolated road by the bay

The shimmering lights of San Francisco Bay can be seen from more than a dozen surrounding communities.  On the evening of February 24, 1992, one of those communities became the scene of a tragic, unsolved murder.  At 8:33 PM, a man slowly approached a gas station in Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco.  He was hunched over his motorcycle, weaving in an erratic fashion.  Not long after, the rider fell to the ground unconscious.  Police and paramedics were dispatched to the scene and attempted to revive the stricken rider.  His pulse was feeble and he was barely alive.  The absence of any external injuries left Detective Barbara McDaniel of the Emeryville Police Department, completely mystified:

“There was no bleeding at all at the site.  If it had been some kind of an accident, you would expect to see some kind of blood.  But there was absolutely none.”

The unknown motorcyclist was rushed to a nearby hospital.  It was later discovered that he had been shot three times by a small caliber weapon.  One of the bullets shattered his knee.  A second lodged in his abdomen.  The third and fatal bullet punctured his aorta.  The wounds were nearly invisible, but had resulted in massive internal bleeding.  The rider never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead shortly after 9:00 PM.  The victim was identified as 30-year-old Michael Hunter, a dedicated motorcycle racer who had survived hundreds of dangerous competitions.

Hunter rode his motorcycle after being shot

As investigators examined Michael’s life, they looked for anything that might have set the stage for murder.  During the mid-1980s, Michael Hunter competed in races throughout California.  According to his mother Beverly, Michael earned a reputation as one of the area’s top cyclists:

“He said that racing gave him probably the highest high that he’d ever had in his whole life.  He said there was nothing that beat this excitement and the thrill of the racing.  And I think the competition was maybe almost incidental to the thrill of the racing.”

The evening of February 24th began like many others for Michael Hunter.  At 7:45 PM he climbed aboard his red, white, and blue sport bike, apparently just to go for a ride.  A few minutes later he stopped at an ATM half a mile away.  As he withdrew $20 from his checking account, a security camera recorded the transaction.  Michael next showed up at a liquor store, half a block from the ATM.  There, he bought a pint of whiskey that was later found in his jacket.  What happened next is pure speculation.

He collapsed at the gas station

The police believe that Michael headed to a frontage road, three miles from the gas station.  This area was known for its breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge.  It was here, while enjoying the fresh winter breeze, that Michael Hunter may have encountered his killer or killers.  Police theorize that someone may have robbed Michael of his wallet at gunpoint and then demanded his motorcycle.  Michael might have tried to outrun the bullets.  According to his friend Rachel Wilken, it was a race he had no chance of winning:

“I think that he was probably pretty scared and… I really like to believe that he didn’t know what was going on.  It would’ve taken him a long time to get to that station.  That’s not a short stint to ride when you’re hurt.”

An hour later, Michael Hunter was dead, leaving Beverly Hunter to wonder who killed her son, and why:

“I think all the time he raced, I knew that something could happen to him because… what he chose to do for his recreation.  Had he died that way, it was a choice he made… and I think that it would’ve been a lot easier to accept.”

Michael’s friends and family have raised a $10,000 reward for information which may help solve this case.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



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  1. thinkingoutloud

    I don;t think it could be a robbery. If someone really wanted his motorcycle, they could’ve easily taken it in that condition. Michael competed in a lot of races, maybe his murder had to do with a sore loser or something?


  2. Johnny

    Hope they solve this case. 25 years now and no justice for Michael Hunter or closure for the family. I saw this episode in my later teen years. This looks like a real Cold Case but maybe they can recheck the bank ATM or Michael’s cycling competitors. Jealousy can be a real motive.


  3. Anonymous

    Hi Unsolved Mysteries,

    Do you know if the Emeryville PD receives any more tips? Do you ever get any? I still have hopes that they’ll find a way to solve this.


  4. Guru

    I wonder where the gas station and ATM were located. Emeryville is very small, maybe 2 square miles. The city has had a lot of new development since this tragedy though so these places may not exist anymore.


  5. Chanita

    Ok When Michael Had Went On That Isolated Road That Might Have Cost Him His Life! Boy Michael went To The The Gas Station But He Had Never Made It God Bless U Michael An RIP My Young Freind!


  6. Emily

    @Bryan not that I know of 🙁


  7. Bryan

    Any updates to this sad story?


  8. Johnny

    The Michael Hunter story sure resonated with many Unsolved Mysteries watchers. He was only 30 and was robbed of his wallet and tried to outrun the bullets. Nearly 25 years have passed. I think this murder/robbery can be solved through ballistics and some solid police work. Maybe, a $50,000 reward or higher can shake something loose.


  9. Beccaboo

    I’m trying to find out where Michael Hunter was laid to rest. If anyone is able to help me I’d be ever so grateful. Research purposes. Thanks


  10. James

    I don’t know if that atm footage is real but that vehicle in the image would’ve been the first place I looked into. Looked similar to the 1992 Mercedes amg rims. Could be something there.


    • OH

      @ James it looked real to me. As you see in the re-enactment, the helmet worn is red and blue. In the footage, the helmet is predominantly white.


  11. m moore

    Random robbery; or someone wanted his bike. He probably was shot 3 times with a Taurus
    .17 cal revolver.


  12. Monty Johnson

    Love and miss you Mike!!!


  13. Johnny

    I remember the Michael Hunter story as a teenager. It was a sad story when Michael crashed his motorcycle at the end trying to get help from the station. He had been shot three times. My theory is a group of individuals in a vehicle staked out the ATM. They probably then followed Michael a few places and waited for the opportunity to strike. The isolated area made sense. Michael probably surprised them when he floored the motorcycle and then the gunman fired. It’s possible that the car could not chase Michael down to others arriving. Probably the criminals rode back to their place and counted their take and learned the man died later.


    • A

      Johnny… I have spent MONTHS trying to figure out what may have happened. I believe the theory of the police. He was no doubt robbed of his wallet.. Then he tried to get away. But why would someone kill him if he handed his wallet? I just wish someone knew something. No one reportedly saw him that night. I still pray the perpetrators will confess.


  14. AH

    Does anyone have any updated information on this? I recently came across this story and it breaks my heart that an innocent person like Mr. Hunter was killed for seemingly no reason.

    From what I’ve seen, it looks like it’s incredibly difficult to ever track down a suspect. I would just like to know if anyone has developments.


  15. Debra Banta friend of Beverlys

    I am sad and disappointed that this is still yet another Unsolved crime. I pray it may yet still be solved, maybe a person with a conscience or a death bed confession, something anything to give resolve to the Hunter family.
    Beverly I Love and Miss You My Friend.


  16. Renee Pettigrew

    I believe the police should test guns and bullets they take from criminals to the ones taken from his body


    • Jase

      They do. They have to find something to match it to. There’s millions of registered/unregistered firearms in America, it’s a needle in a haystack. That’s why they rely on witnesses so they have a starting point. It could be mob related, botched robbery, drug related, revenge, or someone on probatuon for another crime (Unsolved Mysteries has a lot of these cases)etc. Based on what the episode shows, it looks like someone wanted his bike and he refused to give it up and was shot. If no one has come forward by 2017, it may not be solved. It sucks


  17. renee pettigrew

    RIP Michael


  18. John caon

    Michael hunter was great I think he was murder by drug dealer looking for bike