The Justice Files: Cold case reopened

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) –  Corey Thompson has been waiting thirteen-years for answers.

In 2007, she received a phone call that her mother was dead. At the time the investigation concluded that Donna Nordgren was accidentally struck by a vehicle.

“We have waited so long,” said Thompson. “All of us thought it wasn’t handled correctly.”

But now there’s no hope after again receiving a phone call.

In February 2007, Nordgren and family members attended the funeral of her mother. Afterward, they gathered at the home and at the end of the evening, a cousin wanted to take Nordgren out for a drink.

“We all said sure, get her out of the house, maybe she can have some fun,” said Thompson. “All she did was take care of my grandma all day.”

According to South Salt Lake police, they left for a tavern called Frankie and Johnny’s in Murray.  There, they befriended two women. Nordgren left with them and was later seen at a nearby convenience store. From there the trio left to another nightclub in Salt Lake City.

“I got a call from my mom and she said she was having fun with friends and I begged her to come home,” said Thompson.

But Nordgren didn’t. Instead she continued socializing with her new friends.

“Three hours later, the cops showed up and said she was dead,” said Thompson.

After receiving a 911 call, South Salt Lake police responded to the parking lot near 3200 South and 300 West where they found an unconscious Nordgren. A witness at the scene was questioned.

“I just found her,” the witness told police. 

The statement was found in the original 2007 police report. Authorities looked into the witness’ car and found Nordgren’s identification. The witness told police “I guess I need a lawyer.” Police back in 2007 closed the case six months later.

“They said they didn’t have enough evidence and the one witness got away,” recalled Thompson.

For the next 13-years, Thompson along with her two sisters accepted the conclusion that their mom died from an accident.

“I was young and didn’t know what else to do,” she said.

But a month ago, Thompson got a phone call from a detective with South Salt Lake. She was told they planned to reopen the case.

According to a search warrant, there was a request for DNA, (finger) prints and phone records from a person of interest.

In addition, the detective claimed he had “reopened the homicide case.” Details in the search warrant also disclosed problems with the initial investigation. According to the warrant, the person of interest confided with someone about running over Nordgren. But in 2007 that person was never interviewed.

“They did have evidence and nothing was done,” said Thompson. “So I was shocked and mad and happy. It brings back everything.”

But while she’s upset that her mother’s case gathered dust, Thompson is grateful that a detective is trying to make things right.

“Hearing that someone cares as much as we do, is amazing,” said Thompson.

The search warrant said DNA, fingerprints, and phone records were gathered from the person on interest. The evidence is now with the state’s crime lab.

Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.
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