SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Forty-years have passed and two families are still waiting for answers.
Joyce Tina Gallegos and Gabrielle DiStefano were both murdered days apart in August 1982. Weber County authorities eventually discovered their bodies. They were shot to death.
“She went missing and we knew something was wrong because without her medications she had seizures,” said Nancy Montoya, the sister-in-law of Gallegos.
Gallegos was “killed by a gunshot wound to the head,” as reported by news accounts in 1982.
Montoya recalled that day in August when her sister-in-law’s body was found by the Ogden river.
“She was under branches and a fisherman found her body,” said Montoya. “And that’s how we found out on the news of her body being found.”
At the time, Gallegos was not identified. Montoya’s husband was the one who officially identified the body.
Four days after Gallegos disappeared, 14-year-old DiStefano was also murdered in Weber County. Her body was found in mid-September.
According to news accounts from 1982, authorities said she was “shot once in the head.” Her “body was found wrapped in plastic” in a ditch near Harrisville.
But in 1982, authorities never connected the murders of Gallegos and DiStefano even though they were friends and ran in the same groups.
According to Montoya and others, Gallegos left in a red Impala. Montoya said the owner of a red Impala sold it to Gallegos’ sister right after the shooting.
“There was blood in the trunk, there was blood on the carpet and the police came and took it,” Montoya claimed. “They took the whole carpet. We never heard nothing after that.”
One person was arrested and even charged in the murder of Gallegos. But weeks before he was to go to trial, the state dropped charges. The alleged suspect had a solid alibi according to prosecutors.
The murders turned into cold cases. DiStefano’s mother died with a broken heart.
“She died not knowing,” said DiStefano’s uncle Robert Dripps in 2019. “Her mother and father died not knowing and I’m probably going to die before I get it.”
In 2018, authorities reopened the case after realizing the murders were connected because the same gun was used.
“We’ve actually traveled all over pursuing this case,” Lt. Nate Hutchinson said in 2018. “Detectives have been down in Austin, Tex. following up on leads there.”
But in 2022, 40-years after their murders, the families are nowhere closer in finding answers.
“We try to keep bringing it up,” said Montoya. “But nobody cares. They don’t care no more.”
Wednesday, as the Justice Files continues its story on the cold case murder, more details about the Impala, who owned it and what happened to the blood allegedly found in the trunk.