GREELEY, Colorado — The remains of a woman missing for more than two decades were finally found after her estranged husband confessed to cops that he had buried her body beneath the grave of a World War II veteran.
John Sandoval, 52, made the chilling admission to cops as part of plea deal in which he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing his wife in Colorado in 1995.
Sandoval admitted he had taken Kristina Tournai-Sandoval’s industrial-plastic swathed body to the Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Greeley on Oct. 20, 1995 and buried it beneath two feet of soil at the bottom of an open grave site.
Later that day, a World War II veteran was buried on top of Tournai-Sandoval’s body which remained there until her husband told police where it was on March 22, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.
“For 7,826 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes, the location of Tina’s remains has been a mystery,” he said. “Over the course of the last week, we have finally been able to give her family what they so desperately wanted. Tina has been returned to her family and may finally be laid to rest.”
Tournai-Sandoval had feared for her safety the day she died, when she went to pay back a debt to her soon-to-be ex-husband and warned relatives that if something were to happen to her, he was likely responsible. She was never seen again.
When she did not return, her family called police who spotted John Sandoval return home the following morning with mud-spattered clothes and muddy shovel. He also had fingernail scratches on his neck and face and his wife’s credit cards in his house.
Still, without her body, police were unable to bring a case until 2009, when he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. But the verdict was later overturned on appeal on the grounds that the trial judge improperly allowed evidence that Sandoval stalked other women, as well as expert testimony equating stalkers with murderers.
But as prosecutors prepared to try Sandoval again, he finally admitted what he had done with his wife’s body and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the 25 year sentence.