On Friday, a Colorado man who had pleaded guilty to killing his estranged wife more than two decades ago, led authorities to her body, which was buried under the grave of a World War II veteran.
The gruesome murder:
John Sandoval, 52, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1995 death of Kristina Tournai-Sandoval after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He told investigators that the remains were buried at a Greeley cemetery, as part of the plea deal.
Early in the morning on Oct. 20, 1995, Sandoval found an open gravesite which was scheduled for a burial that afternoon. He dug about 2 feet (0.61 meters) below the grave and buried Tournai-Sandoval’s body, which was wrapped in several layers of industrial-grade plastic, according to prosecutors.
Then cemetery workers buried the veteran over her remains.
A wet and muddy shovel was found in Sandoval’s car by detectives that day as well as muddy clothes inside his home. He was arrested and investigators noticed scratch marks on his face, neck and chest.
Authorities could not find the body, any witnesses or a crime scene, therefore they didn’t file charges at the time.
On Friday, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke issued a news release saying “For 7,826 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes, the location of Tina’s remains has been a mystery. Over the course of the last week, we have finally been able to give her family what they so desperately wanted.”
Admittance of guilt:
In 2010, Sandoval was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. However, an appeals court overturned his conviction last year, ruling a judge wrongfully allowed evidence that Sandoval stalked other women, as well as expert testimony correlating stalkers with murderers.
Sandoval acknowledged knowing the location of his wife’s body while prosecutors were preparing for a new trial.
According to court records, Sandoval had met with his wife to settle a debt before finalizing their divorce. Before the meeting, she warned family members that if anything happened to her, her husband was responsible. She also arranged to talk with her sister by phone after the meeting.