1995 Tina Sandoval Murder Mystery Solved
Published on March 31, 2017
GREELEY, Colo. (Weld County D.A.) - Today, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke and Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner announced a major development in the 1995 disappearance and murder of Kristina “Tina” Tournai-Sandoval.
On March 22, 2017, nearly 22 years after Tina's disappearance, John Sandoval, Tina's estranged husband, provided to law enforcement and District Attorney Rourke information regarding the location of Tina's remains which enabled investigators to recover her from Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Greeley.
As a result of the disclosure as to the location of Tina's remains, Sandoval plead guilty to Murder in the Second Degree and was sentenced today to 25 years in the Department of Corrections. That sentence will be followed by a mandatory period of parole of five years.
Sandoval, now 52, was convicted in August 2010 of murdering Tina in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison. In March 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial. The District Attorney's office was in the process of preparing for a new trial when Sandoval provided this information.
“For 7,826 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes, the location of Tina's remains has been a mystery,” said D.A. Rourke. “One that has haunted her family, the investigators who worked this case from the minute it was reported, and the community as a whole. While the original conviction served to hold this Defendant accountable for the atrocious act he committed, the lingering question as to her whereabouts cast a shadow over this prosecution. 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.”
The crime: On October 19, 1995, Kristina “Tina” Tournai-Sandoval met with her estranged husband, John Sandoval, to settle a debt prior to finalizing their divorce. Before meeting the Defendant, Tina warned family members that if anything happened to her, it was her husband who did it. She even pre-arranged a phone call with her sister, which was to follow the meeting. The phone call never happened, and she was never seen again.
The investigation: Detectives with the Greeley Police Department immediately launched an investigation into Tina's disappearance and established surveillance at the Defendant's home. On October 20, 1995 at 5:46 a.m., Sandoval arrived home and walked inside. Upon further investigation, detectives found a wet and muddy shovel in the Defendant's car, as well as muddy clothes inside the home. Officers later found credit cards belonging to Tina inside the home, which had last been used four days before her disappearance.
After the Defendant's arrest, detectives noticed he had several scratch marks on his face, neck, chest and shoulder caused by fingernails. During questioning at the police station, the Defendant attempted to destroy evidence by cleaning and biting his fingernails.
Despite the strong suspicion Sandoval killed his wife, police never found a body, crime scene or witnesses, and he never made any statements about her disappearance. The District Attorney at the time did not file charges.
The trial: In June 2009, nearly 14 years later, the District Attorney's Office charged Sandoval with first-degree murder. On August 5, 2010, following the one-month long trial, the jury convicted the Defendant of Murder in the First Degree. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The retrial: On March 17, 2016, nearly eight years after his conviction, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the guilty verdict and ordered a new trial. District Attorney Michael Rourke was preparing for a new trial when he obtained information that could potentially lead investigators to Tina's remains.
The admissions: Earlier this month, Sandoval admitted to knowing the location where Tina was buried. On October 20, 1995 in the early morning hours, Sandoval found an open gravesite in Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery, located at 3400 W 28th Street in Greeley, which was scheduled for a burial that afternoon. He dug approximately two feet below the open grave and buried Tina's body, which had been wrapped in several layers of industrial-quality plastic. Unbeknownst to Sunset Memorial Gardens employees, the afternoon burial continued as planned, preserving Tina's body under the vault.
Last week, DA Rourke and several investigators with the Greeley Police Department exhumed the vault and located Tina's remains - ending a nearly 22-year mystery.
Sentencing: In exchange for the information provided by the Defendant, Sandoval has been sentenced to 25 years in the Department of Corrections and will serve five years of parole following his release.