The Justice Files: DNA setback in Salgado murder investigation

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – There was hope that Elizabeth Salgado’s killer left DNA at her burial site.

Those hopes were dashed when investigators with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office learned the samples didn’t produce a DNA profile.

Salgado disappeared in 2015 and three years later her remains were discovered in a shallow grave in Hobble Creek Canyon in Utah County.

At the time investigators gathered possible DNA evidence at the scene. It was sent to a forensics crime lab.

After nearly a two-year wait, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office got the disappointing news.

“What results that have come back have not been conclusive,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon.  “We haven’t been able to identify the person or even what was evaluated did not belong to Elizabeth. 

Investigators sent some of the remains to the state medical examiner but authorities could not determine the cause of death. This DNA testing, like the autopsy, had degradation issues according to Sgt. Cannon.

“After having likely been there for three years at the time her remains were found, the evidence becomes degraded and wasn’t able to lead us to something that can move the case forward.”

Salgado’s uncle and family were hoping DNA testing would get them one step closer in finding Elizabeth’s killer.  It was another disappointment.

“I thought they were going to have like great news,” said Rosemberg Salgado. “(It’s) another disappointing news.”

But there’s technology that may help. 

Intermountain Forensics in Murray is the nation’s first non-profit DNA lab with cutting edge technology. It’s the brainchild of the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

“The equipment may be lacking sensitivity that has now become available through our lab,” said Jason Jensen, a co-founder of the coalition.  

Jensen said the technology used at their lab has been successful in developing DNA profiles from ancient artifacts.   

Meanwhile, Jensen said the coalition will continue to investigate Salgado’s murder.

They’re now requesting satellite imagery from local companies in hopes of finding unusual activity at Salgado’s apartment and the burial site.

“What we’re hoping to identify is to see a vehicle parked nearby to give us a make, model, license plate on someone who may have been visiting that location,” he said.

He said it’s the same technology used to solve the Daybell missing children’s case in Idaho.

That effort is giving Salgado’s some comfort. Despite yet another setback, the uncle says they will never give up.

“We will never give up,” he said. “I mean we will keep trying. We have faith and there is nothing hidden that will not be discovered.”

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