GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– A man pleaded guilty to his wife’s murder on Friday, and also told authorities where he hid Tina Tournai’s remains, ending a 22-year mystery.
“The court therefore accepts the plea deal of Murder in the second degree,” said Weld County Judge Shannon Lyons.
John Sandoval pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in his wife’s 1995 death on Friday. He was immediately sentenced to 25 years in prison plus five years parole.
“It turns out that from the beginning our family was right,” said Tina Tournai’s relative Bob Kuznik.
Although Sandoval pleaded guilty, he did not admit to murder. Prosecutors hope Sandoval will tell them more now that he’s been sentenced.
“Would our decision to accept a plea deal endanger other women? Could we live with a longer sentence knowing we would likely never recover Tina? There were not easy issues for us,” said Tournai.
The remains of Tournai were found under the grave of WWII veteran Arthur Hert at a cemetery, where Sandoval worked at the time.
“Standing over that man’s grave gave me a sense of relief,” said Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke.
Tournai disappeared in 1995 after meeting with Sandoval, her then estranged husband. The couple was married for three years before she went missing.
Sandoval was convicted in her death in 2010 but an appeals court threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial.
The guilty plea eliminates the need for a new trial.
“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,” said Tournai.