It’s one sad, sad case. John Sandoval pleaded guilty last week to killing his wife in 1995. It always seemed clear that he had committed the crime, but there was no body. Until he told them where to look, cutting years off his sentence.

Gavel close up.
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It’s been a ‘cold case’ for over 20 years, because authorities were unable to find her body.

In 1995 Weld County resident John Sandoval had been separated from his wife, Tina, for three months pending divorce. They had some IRS stuff to take care of, regarding the divorce. She left work at NCMC on October 19th and was headed his way to deal with that. That’s where 22-year-old Tina Sandoval’s story ends. She was never seen or heard from Tina Sandoval after that.

Sandoval was eventually charged with and convicted of her murder, fifteen years later, in 2010. At that time, Sandoval was living in Las Vegas. He’d moved there after serving four years of a six-year sentence handed down to him for a criminal trespass charge from 1995. In that case, about a month before Tina’s death, Sandoval was found inside a Greeley woman’s closet. ‘Peeping Tom’ charges.

Sandoval was convicted to life in prison for Tina’s death, even though they had no body, or eye-witnesses. Without a body, Tina’s family would find it hard to have closure, though they did have a marker placed in Windsor's cemetery.  Sandoval and his lawyers appealed the verdict while he started serving his sentence. In 2016 he was granted another trial. A judge overturned the conviction on the basis that there were problems with the prosecution's case.

And then, a few weeks before the second trial was set to start in Greeley, low and behold, John says he can lead them to the body- in exchange for a lesser sentence. Real class, this guy.  After prosecutors got the plea deal OK’d by Tina’s family, He told them that she was underneath another person’s grave in Greeley

It turns out, on October 20, 1995, there was a funeral for a WWII Veteran at Sunset Memorial Gardens, and they had prepared the grave site on the 19th.  Sandoval got out a shovel and dug a couple of feet below that grave and buried Tina’s body. The WWII Vet was buried above Tina, without anyone knowing. Sick.

It even turns out that police had a tip saying that's where the body was during the initial investigation, but it was eventually discounted.

So, now that he’s directed authorities to Tina’s remains, 22 years after the crime, he will now only serve 25 years in prison, instead of life. They’re going to let him count the six years he waited for a new trial. That means, if he serves the full 19 years remaining, he’ll be 71 when he gets out.

My question: If he hadn’t appealed the first decision, would he have come forward with the location?

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