Dateline: Unforgettable is re-examining the murder of Kristina “Tina” Tournai Sandoval, who was killed by her estranged husband, John Sandoval, in Greeley, Colorado, in 1995.
On October 19, 1995, Tina vanished without a trace, and it took 22 years to find out what happened to her. On the day she disappeared, she went to John Sandoval’s home to settle a debt so they could finalize their divorce.
Before she left, she told her family that if anything happened to her, it was John who did it. Tina told her sister she’d phone as soon as the meeting ended, but she never made that call.
The police immediately put John’s house under surveillance, and they caught him arriving home just before 6 a.m. the following morning. The cops found a muddy, wet shovel in John’s car, along with dirty clothing. They also recovered some of Tina’s belongings, including her credit cards from the house.
The investigators also noticed John had scratches on his face, neck, chest, and shoulder, likely caused by fingernails.
However, the cops had no remains, no witnesses, no confession, and no hard physical evidence from a crime scene. It took 15 years before the authorities concluded they had enough to charge John with first-degree murder.
John Sandoval found guilty in 2010 of killing Tina Sandoval
John was finally put on trial in 2010 when he was convicted. He never made any statements about the death of his wife, and he refused to reveal the whereabouts of her remains.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
The killer spent six years behind bars before the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and demanded a new trial.
In March 2017, prosecutors were preparing for a new trial when John finally decided to come clean and broker a deal. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years.
John Sandoval finally explained where to find Tina Sandoval
As part of the deal, John revealed what happened to Tina’s remains. He had taken the body to a Greeley graveyard, where he found a freshly dug open grave. He dug an extra two feet and buried Tina in an industrial plastic covering.
The following morning, unsuspecting graveyard employers buried another individual on top of Tina during a funeral.
Tina’s remains were finally exhumed in 2017.
The family of Tina was relieved to finally know the truth, even if John still hadn’t revealed how she died. Her relative, Bob Kuznik, said after the sentencing, “It turns out that from the beginning, our family was right.”
John Sandoval was denied parole in 2020 and is next scheduled for a parole hearing in January 2026.
Dateline: Unforgettable airs Thursdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.