The Justice Files: Sisters denied justice for their mom

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A botched investigation may have allowed someone to avoid charges in a 2007 hit and run.

Donna Nordgren was killed in South Salt Lake when someone ran over her.

“How would you feel if it happened to you?” asked Corey Thompson, Nordgren’s daughter.  “They should know what they did to our family.”

That message was aimed at two sisters who were with Nordgren the night she died.

Nordgren met them that night and was socializing and drinking with them when something went wrong.  The driver was accused of getting mad and ordering her own sister and Nordgren out of the car when she was struck.  The case went cold but was re-opened in 2018. 

The two sisters were again interviewed by a detective.

But the sister who was tossed out of the car “doesn’t remember her (sister) hitting her with the car,” according to the detective’s police report.

The alleged driver denied any wrongdoing. She said “No way (I) would be able to live with myself,” the detective wrote in his report.

Another woman told the detective there’s a possible witness who was told “they ran over the person, then again … because they wanted her dead or hurt real bad.”  The possible witness could not be found.

The detective took his findings to the Salt Lake district attorney’s office for possible charges.  But it was denied.

“We were told that not only did they know that this woman killed our mother, but they can’t prove intent,” said Thompson. “So we can’t go after vehicular manslaughter because there’s a 10-year statute of limitations.”

The detective even tried manslaughter but that was also rejected.  

“Because most of the investigation wasn’t done (properly) they can’t  prove that she did it,” said Thompson.

The detective concluded the original investigation was flawed. In his report he said there was no surveillance requested from various locations where the women were that night.  

The report also stated there was no record the possible witness was interviewed in 2007.  Originally the woman made a statement which was recorded with Salt Lake Police and forwarded to South Salt Lake. But it was never found in the files of the original investigator.

In addition, the driver’s car was never processed for possible evidence.

“You’re wondering how a police department does not pay attention to the evidence that was right there,” said Kellie Karren, another daughter.  “We’re finding out stuff that they should have known within a matter of days back when my mom was killed.”

The detective closed the case but stated it would be again re-opened if new information arises.  A spokesman for the district attorney’s office also said the case would be reviewed again if police present more evidence.

For now, it left the daughters wondering if they will ever get justice for their mother.

“I am so mad and my heart hurts,” said Thompson.  “It doesn’t sit well at all.”

She said the detective who reviewed the case a second time “did apologize” to the family.

A spokesperson for South Salt Lake said mistakes can happen but now, police are better trained and have new techniques to help with an investigation. Anyone with information about Nordgren’s death is urged to contact police.

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