Two decades ago, Stephanie Farrell’s mother dropped her off at a friend’s house while she ran some errands. Farrell, who was 5 years old at the time, would never see her mother again. “I fell asleep at the window waiting for her to come home,” said Farrell. “She never came home.”
Over 20 years later, Farrell still searches for answers. “This is my whole life,” said Farrell. “My whole life has been spent trying to answer what happened to my mom.”
Farrell isn’t alone in her search for answers. Family members of over 200 Utah cold case victims fight for closure — usually for years, and sometimes for decades.
The Utah Cold Case Coalition is taking on the task of solving these cases. At a press conference on July 31, it announced a $3,000 reward for information leading to a conviction and a campaign for “Cold Case Month” throughout August.
Family members present hope the coalition’s efforts will bring them closer to the closure they’ve been longing for.
“My hope is with the reward that somebody will come forward with information allowing us to find a body or her alive,” said Farrell.
Ogden Police Captain Danielle Croyle said in order to solve these cases, they need help from the public.
“We need resources. We need information from the community. We need to have support networks so we can make sure families continue to get closure,” Croyle said.
One of the coalition’s founders Karra Porter echoed this statement. “We need people who have services or who have skills, no matter what they are,” she said.
Porter said that despite having “a very solid lead” on the location of a body and being authorized by local law enforcement — who don’t have the resources to find the body — they have been unable to find a company willing to perform ground penetration services. She hopes people will volunteer to help the coalition overcome difficulties like this one.
Former Salt Lake Tribune reporter and one of the coalition’s founders Tom Harvey also encouraged individuals who have had their DNA tested to donate their genetic information to GEDMatch.com.
Harvey said other cold cases have been solved as a result of genetic matches, including the Golden State killer case, which had been cold for nearly four decades. The coalition hopes to replicate this in Utah cold cases.
Individuals with leads on any cold cases should call the coalition’s 24/7 tip line: 385-CLUE-313 or visit its Facebook page.
Nancy Montoya lost her sister-in-law nearly 40 years ago. Joyce ‘Tina’ Gallegos was later found in the Ogden dam in 1982 with two bullet wounds to the head. Montoya hopes people will use the coalition’s resources to speak up about what they know.
“After all these years, it still hurts,” said Montoya. “I would hope that someone would come forward. I know there are people that know information. I just hope that it gets solved.”