The Justice Files: In search of a killer

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s an image Frankie Cisneros has had to deal with over the past six years.

In 2012, he came across the body of his mother who had been murdered.

“I just remember all the smoke in the house and just wanting to help my mom,” said Cisneros.  “But I couldn’t.  Hers was the first body I’d seen.  I didn’t even know Ralph was in there.  That’s how bad it was.”

His mother, Alice Griego, and her live-in boyfriend Ralph Salazar were murdered.  To date, their murders remain unsolved.  Friday is the anniversary of their deaths.

“It’s tough,” said Cisneros.  “Time somewhat heals. It’s been hard obviously for my family since my mom passed away.”

Back then detectives sifted through the rubble in search of clues.  Ben Pender with the Unified Police Department was a homicide detective.

“It was an extremely difficult case because of the fire,” he said.

Several people were questioned about the case.  But they were cleared and it has turned into a cold case.

The Griego family hired a private investigator who has now learned of a possible motive.

“It appears that the day before Mr. Salazar was murdered, he had been involved in an argument over a crime that he had been a victim of,” said Jason Jensen.  “So it looks like he may have been silenced as for the reason of the murder.”

Jensen’s theory of a man targeting Salazar is something police can’t comment on.

Ben Pender who was at the scene in 2012 is now a cold case investigator for Unified Police.
He said prosecutors demand more than circumstantial evidence.

“It’s not enough for the district attorney to file charges on that,” he said.  “We need some solid evidence.  We need more than hearsay.  We need more than what people have heard about.” 

Pender said he needs that missing piece of the puzzle.  He hopes witnesses with knowledge of the crime will reach out to him and they can remain anonymous.

He can be reached at 385-468-9816 or by email: bpender@updsl.org.

For now, Cisneros said he’s making the best of his life without his mother.  A consoling thought helps him get through rough patches.

“(Ralph) made my mom happy for the last year of her life,” said Cisneros.  “She got to travel with him and got to smile for once.”

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