The body of a woman who went missing more than two decades ago has been found—buried under the grave of a World War II veteran. John Sandoval, 52, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Friday and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1995 death of his estranged wife, Kristina Tournai-Sandoval. As part of a plea deal, the Colorado man told investigators March 22 her remains were buried at a Greeley cemetery. Sandoval found an open gravesite early in the morning on Oct. 20, 1995, that was scheduled for a burial that afternoon. Prosecutors say he dug about 2 feet below the grave and buried Tournai-Sandoval's body, which was wrapped in several layers of industrial-grade plastic. Cemetery workers then unknowingly buried the veteran over her remains, reports the AP.
The Greeley Tribune reports Tournai-Sandoval had planned to meet her husband of three years for one last time before finalizing their divorce, in order to discuss an IRS debt. That meeting was to take place Oct. 19, 1995; it was the last day she was seen alive. Detectives found a muddy shovel in Sandoval's car, muddy clothes inside his home, and noticed scratch marks on his face, neck, and chest. Charges were not filed at the time because authorities could not find the body, any witnesses, or a crime scene. Sandoval was convicted in 2010 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. But an appeals court overturned his conviction last year. Prosecutors had been preparing for a new trial when Sandoval offered to give up his wife's location in exchange for taking a life sentence off the table, reports the Denver Post. He could be up for parole as soon as 2028.