Candlelight vigil, cold case update for Utah girl, 14, found dead 40 years ago

Sep 16, 2022, 4:03 PM | Updated: 5:13 pm
Gabriel Distefano...
Gabriel Distefano

RIVERDALE, Utah — Gabriel DiStefano was 14 when, while heading to a party in Riverdale, she disappeared. The following day, Sept. 16, 1982, her body was found with a gunshot wound to the head, wrapped in plastic and placed in a ditch near a construction site in Harrisville, Utah.

Forty years later her life will be commemorated while the continued mystery about who killed her will be highlighted Friday at a candlelight vigil at Harrisville’s Millenium Park at 7 p.m.

A press release promises a private investigator and co-founder of the Cold Case Coalition will update those at the vigil with the latest on the case. Family members will also be in attendance.

In 2018 the Weber County Sheriff’s Office said it was actively working that case in conjunction with the killing of Joyce Tina Gallegos, who was 21 when she was found dead in the Ogden River on Aug. 22, 1982 with two gunshot wounds to her head. It was just four-days later when DiStefano disappeared.

Utah’s cold case website lists her death as an unsolved homicide and requests anyone with information about the case to contact the Weber County Sheriff’s Office at 801.778.6600. The cold case tip hotline is 833.377.7233.

Joyce Tina Gallegos

Investigators believe the two crimes are related and in 2008 an affidavit stated that the bullets recovered from each of the bodies were fired by the same gun. In 2012 DNA swabs of Gallegos’ purse found forensic evidence of the combination of more than two males, according to the documents.

“Because the murders of Tina and Gabriel occurred in or near the same month of August 1982, because both bodies were shot in the same fashion, and because the bullet fired into each girl was fired from the same gun as determined by the state crime lab, it is my experience that most likely the same perpetrator was at least involved in each homicide,” the warrant states, as reported by Deseret.com.

Gabriel Distefano


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Candlelight vigil, cold case update for Utah girl, 14, found dead 40 years ago