Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Colorado woman's remains found under grave of WWII veteran

By: THOMAS PEIPERT, Associated Press
April 1, 2017 Updated: April 1, 2017 at 7:30 am
0

DENVER — A Colorado man who pleaded guilty Friday to killing his estranged wife more than two decades ago recently led authorities to her body, which was buried under the grave of a World War II veteran.

John Sandoval, 52, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1995 death of Kristina Tournai-Sandoval.

As part of a plea deal, he told investigators March 22 the remains were buried at a Greeley cemetery.

Sandoval found an open gravesite early in the morning on Oct. 20, 1995, that was scheduled for a burial that afternoon. Prosecutors say 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.

Cemetery workers then unknowingly buried the veteran over her remains.

That day, detectives found a wet and muddy shovel in Sandoval's car and muddy clothes inside his home. After he was arrested, investigators noticed scratch marks on his face, neck and chest.

Charges were not filed at the time because authorities could not find the body, any witnesses or a crime scene.

"For 7,826 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes, the location of Tina's remains has been a mystery," Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said in a news release Friday. "Over the course of the last week, we have finally been able to give her family what they so desperately wanted."

Sandoval was convicted in 2010 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. But 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.

Prosecutors had been preparing for a new trial when Sandoval acknowledged knowing the location of his wife's body.

Court records show 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.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.