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Detectives ask for the public’s help in two Utah cold case murders

Nov 15, 2023, 7:01 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2023, 11:36 am

OGDEN — Detectives in Ogden are asking for the public’s help in solving the murder of a teen and a 21-year old woman that happened more than 40 years ago.

And they’re hoping a new approach to an old piece of evidence might jog some memories.

In August 1982, Joyce Tina Gallegos, 21, went missing. Eventually, her body was discovered in the Ogden River with two gunshot wounds to the head. Shortly thereafter, 14-year-old Gabriella DiStefano disappeared. Her body was found about a month later in a drainage ditch by a construction site in Harrisville.

Today, authorities are focusing in on two pieces of evidence that were found with her — a light-yellow shower curtain that the victim’s body was wrapped in, and a medium-sized white towel.

Apartment 15

They say the towel had apartment 15 written or embroidered in it. However, authorities don’t have those pieces anymore.

Still, the detectives want people to think back to any apartments or hotels that would have had those in the region, possibly even up into Idaho.

“But we want to expand everybody’s thinking to broaden that into other counties,” Det. Steve Haney, of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office said. “Think about places that they stayed, any hotels or motels in the eighties, any short term apartments that had towels in them that had the apartment number written on the towels, the towel that was found with with with Gabby’s body had in the upper right hand corner.”

Gabriella DiStefano (Police handout) A September 1982 photo in a murder investigation. (KSL TV) Joyce Tina Gallegos (Police photo) Detectives in Ogden are asking for the public's help in solving the murder of a teen and a 21-year old woman that happened more than 40 years ago. (KSL TV) Detectives in Ogden are asking for the public's help in solving the murder of a teen and a 21-year old woman that happened more than 40 years ago. (KSL TV)

Detectives do not believe that DiStefano and Gallegos knew each other, adding to the theory that the killer might have been a stranger.

“I believe that these girls were held for days on time before they were murdered,” Haney said. “And this could be significant to the case, if it even sounds familiar to any place that anybody stayed.”

Closure for families

Kristen Perkins, a second cousin of DiStefano, says she grew up hearing about the case. It occurred before Perkins was even born.

“I grew up knowing about it my whole life,” she said. “So it just kind of it’s been in the family obviously forever. But nobody, you know, nobody followed up with it.”

Today, authorities are trying to provide closure for the families.

“I still stay in contact with the families. It still means everything to them. Like it happened yesterday. They lost a loved one and everybody counts or nobody counts.”

Still, Perkins saw the impact it had on her grandfather.

“I made a promise to him before he passed that I you know, I would find out who who did this, what happened,” she said.

Gallegos’s brother, Roger, says enough is enough.

“I hope somebody does come forward and and with some kind of clue,” he said. “Something because it’s been 40 years and I’m still waiting and waiting. Waiting because all I can do is wait.”

If you have information, you are asked to reach out to the Weber County Sheriff or Weber County Attorney’s offices.

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Detectives ask for the public’s help in two Utah cold case murders