Suspect in decades-old homicide pleads guilty

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WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- A suspect in the 1995 death of his wife pleaded guilty Friday and told prosecutors where he hid her remains, the Weld County District Attorney's Office said.

John Sandoval was convicted of the murder in 2010, but the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned it. Sandoval's plea, along with the remains, cleared up a mystery that had gone unsolved for 22 years.

Kristina "Tina" Tournai Sandoval was last seen Oct. 19, 1995. She was estranged from her husband and the two were in the process of getting a divorce.

According to family, Tina Sandoval was meeting John Sandoval to discuss finances when she disappeared.

Before she was last seen, Tina Sandoval reportedly told her sister that "if anything happened to her in her attempt to collect a debt from her estranged husband, it would be his doing."

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said Tina Sandoval's remains were found in Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Greeley, buried under the body of a World War II veteran.

Tina Sandoval's family thanked the relatives of the veteran who allowed officials to search the area but declined to name them.

"For 22 years, her family has had to wonder where is Tina, but we're happy to announce she is back with her family," Rourke said.

A statement released by Tina Sandoval's family outlined their "vast array of feelings" regarding John Sandoval's plea, saying they arrived at the decision as a family and that the ordeal "has taken its final turn."

The statement also said that the family had longed to find Tina Sandoval's remains but regret "Tina's murderer will ultimately be released from prison."

The letter closes by saying, "We urge all women who are victims of stalking or domestic violence to separate themselves from the immediate danger and to reach out for help."

As a part of the plea, John Sandoval was sentenced to 25 years in prison but will get credit for time served. He will be eligible for release in 2028.

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