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VICTIMS’ KIN VOW 4 KILLINGS WILL BE SOLVED

SHARE VICTIMS’ KIN VOW 4 KILLINGS WILL BE SOLVED

They've suffered a purge at the police department, a setback in court and a number of political dead ends.

But the survivors and friends of four young women murdered during the mid-1980s vowed Monday not to give up the fight until the crimes are solved."What if it was your child?" said Danny Gallegos, whose 19-year-old daughter, Christine, was gunned down nine years ago this week.

"We are not going to go away; we are not going to shut up until the ones responsible for these deaths are caught," said Joan Pearson, a close friend and mother figure for Lisa Strong, 25, who was gunned down eight years ago this month.

Gallegos, Pearson and others representing the victims stood in front of the Salt Lake City-County Building next to four pots of flowers, each bearing the name of one of the victims: Christine Gallegos, Lisa Strong, Carla Maxwell and Tiffany Hambleton.

Saying they believe the slayings have not been properly investigated, they pleaded for local governments to break down ju-ris-dic-tion-al walls.

Gallegos also asked the Salt Lake County Commission on Monday to persuade Sheriff Aaron Kennard to investigate the murders, which remain under the jurisdiction of the Salt Lake Police Department.

"For Aaron not to be able to look into these homicides after eight or nine years . . . is a kick in the groin," Gallegos said.

Kennard has already tried, however. In January, Kennard launched a "multi-jurisdictional homicide task force" to investigate, among other things, the unsolved Salt Lake crimes.

But the police department quickly put an end to that idea, saying it would not cooperate with Kennard's task force. Kennard, in turn, quickly retreated.

Gallegos said "it's not funny" that jurisdictions keep Kennard from "taking a fresh look at the cases."

"We need the ones in power to do something, not just talk about it," said Pearson.

During their meeting Monday, county commissioners arranged a meeting with their staff and the victims' families. They also pledged they would meet with Kennard and Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom to discuss what authority the county has in the cases.

In addition to Gallegos and Strong, the other victims were Maxwell, 21, who was shot to death in April 1986 while working at a Layton 7-Eleven; and Hambleton, 16, who was stabbed to death in February 1986.

Patrolman Frank Hatton-Ward developed a theory that the young women were the victims of a local gang - a theory that the victims' survivors seemed to give credence to but one the police department rejected.

The theory was dealt a judicial setback last month, when a 3rd District judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Frank Hatton-Ward, a former patrolman who says the police department ignored his leads and destroyed crucial evidence.

Hatton-Ward was fired from the department, and two crime analysts who supported his theory were demoted after going public with their allegations that the department bungled the investigation.