The Justice Files: 22 years and still waiting for justice

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – COVID-19 was not going to stop the Beristain family from holding their annual tribute for their daughter.

Trisha Beristain was shot to death in 1998 by a jealous boyfriend.  Her body was found just off the highway in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

The suspect, Jesus Mungia, has yet to be caught.

“22 years now and Trisha’s memory will never leave us,” said her father, Fred Beristain.  “We will always honor her.”

It was a different look Wednesday night on the anniversary of Trisha’s murder.

There were no hugs or handshakes.  It was relatively quiet as each person stayed in their vehicle.

“We thought about canceling this year because of the COVID but we chose not to,” said Beristain.

  “We will adapt.  We made a promise to her that we will do this every year until her murderer is captured.  So here we are, COVID or not.”

Despite the need for social distancing, the feeling amongst family and friends remained the same.  They still missed Trisha.

“She was my best friend,” said Laura Torres, her sister.  “She was my everything.  She was my world and it’s so frustrating that they’re not doing anything to find her.”

The suspect who is still on the run is Jesus Mungia.  He also goes by different names like Jesse Vega or Jesus Vega.

He’s been listed on America’s Most Wanted for several years.  

Despite the many names and youthful appearance, Mungia is well into his forties.  There has been no age enhanced pictures of him but on the bulletin, he has silver capped upper front teeth.  He also has distinct tattoos on his hand and chest.

Her father said it’s not right that Trisha is gone and the suspected killer remained free to live his life.

“The fact that he’s enjoyed life,” said Beristain.  “I don’t know what he’s done.  If he’s gotten married, has kids, anything of that nature and Trisha was robbed of that.  We were robbed of that.”

In 1998, authorities claimed Beristain was shot because Mungia suspected she was seeing someone else.

What has frustrated her family is the missed opportunities to capture Mungia.   Torres recalled telling authorities where he lived right after the murder.  But police didn’t go there until the next day.  He was gone.

“They would have found the truck,” said Torres. “The evidence (was there) and he could have been in prison right now.”

After Mungia disappeared, he was spotted again, in a suburb of Chicago.  Police there, were notified.

“They watched him go in and out of the house,” said Torres.  “The police did nothing to go grab him.”

It was the last sighting of Mungia who also has ties to the Seattle area.  Justice has eluded her family for the past 22-years.

“Everyday (I think of that),” said Beristain.  “Every day, where’s the justice?  Because right now there isn’t any.  It’s just frustrating.  It’s sad.”

Anyone with information about Mungia are urged to contact the Unified Police Department.

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