Episode 2: DNA Hit To Cold Case Prosecution: UC Davis Sweetheart Murders (pt. 1)

Description: How the cold case prosecution for the 1980 murders of two UC Davis students unfolded over 30+ years.  Part 1 gives background and history of the case – who the victims were, what happened to them – and takes you through the early investigation from 1980 to 2002.

Show Notes: The lead prosecutor, Dawn Bladet, and investigator, Ron Garverick, discuss the cold case prosecution of Richard Hirschfield.  In 1980, Hirschfield murdered UC Davis students John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves – often called the UC Davis Sweetheart Murders.

Bladet and Garverick set the scene of what the town of Davis and Sacramento region was like in 1980, and tell us about John and Sabrina.  The discussion goes back in time, describing the evening John and Sabrina went missing and the events that soon followed – from the families reporting them missing, to locating the van they were driving, to the discovery of their bodies and how that discovery affected the Riggins and Gonsalves families.

Bladet and Garverick talk through the twists and turns the case took giving the history and general timeline of the investigation, including the pursuit of the Hunt Group who were charged in Yolo County for the murders.  On the eve of their trial, they were exonerated by DNA.

This episode ends at the point where DNA taken from a blanket at the crime scene gets a DNA hit in 2002 to an unknown suspect, turning the case in a completely new direction.

This case was featured on 48 Hours (https://www.cbsnews.com/video/the-sweetheart-murders-3/).

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Tags: District Attorney, Cold Cases, Cold Case Prosecutions, DNA, DNA Evidence, DNA Hit, Forensic Science, UC Davis, Sweetheart Murders, Justice, Capital Murder, Death Penalty, True Crime, Justice Journal