The Justice Files: Male DNA evidence linked to 1985 cold case

Top Stories
feedingamerica

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Leah Gallegos is hoping this latest break can help lead to her daughter’s killer.

In 1985, her daughter, Christine Gallegos was murdered in Salt Lake City.  Her murder is now on a list considered a cold case.

Two years ago, the Justice Files profiled her daughter’s murder.

“She was my daughter,” said an emotional Gallegos.  “They had no right.”

In May, a member of the Utah Cold Case Coalition delivered a parcel to a forensics laboratory in Salt Lake County.  Gallegos sent a pair of her daughter’s boots to have it analyzed.  She said the boots were carefully packaged and stored ever since her daughter was murdered.

“We’re hoping the DNA results will help identify who gave her the boots,” said Jason Jensen in May. 

Back in 1985 and the following year, Gallegos was one of three women who died from a gunshot and with the same pistol.

Carla Maxwell was killed at a convenience store in Layton.  The following month Lisa Strong was also shot to death in Salt Lake City.

Ballistics from bullets found at the scene proved it was the same gun, a .38 special.

Years later, Forrest Whittle was convicted for murdering Strong.  But police had no evidence linking him to the mudrers of Gallegos and Maxwell.

Since May of 2020, the boots were tested at a forensics laboratory. Jensen received word last week about their findings.

“The lab is done with the boots and they determined there was a sufficient quantity of male DNA to justify going forward,” said Jensen.

The lab will continue its testing and eventually will send it to another lab called Ged-Match to develop a profile.

During Jensen’s investigation, he discovered the owner of R-Comforts in the 1980’s gave the boots to Gallegos and another girl, Tiffany Hambleton who he hired at his club.  Hambleton was also killed during that time period and her murder is listed on the state’s cold case list.  Jensen believes their murders are somehow connected.

“Given the fact that the boots belong to a woman they expected female, or at least human DNA on the boots, but to find male DNA, that can be significant,” he said.

But he also admitted it can also be another dead end.  Regardless, Christine’s mother is aware of the DNA finding and will anxiously wait for the DNA profile.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said from her Oregon home.  “It would just be wonderful if something came from the DNA.  There’s a reason why I saved them for thirty plus years.” 

But Jensen said it could be several more months before the coalition gets a male profile from Ged-Match.

In the meantime, the coalition is seeking information about R-Comforts and it’s owner Roger Comfort.  Another young woman, Dee Dee Wach also worked at the business in the 1980’s.  She was given a pair of the same boots and ended up being murdered.

Anyone with information on these cases is urged to contact the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

feedingamerica

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates

IN FOCUS

More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files

Trending Stories