Inside Texas cold cases: Her nude body was found outside a Texas church. 10 years later, DNA named her killer

Tracking the success, continued search for answers in Lone Star state cold case homicides

Eglena Diaz DeLeon (Texas Department of Public Safety)

HOUSTON – Texas has its share of homicide cases that have gone cold.

While some have heated up and been solved when people come forward or evidence is retested, other cases remain on the books without answers for families whose loved ones were lost.

KPRC 2 is taking a look back at both the solved and unsolved cases featured by the Texas Department of Public Safety to acknowledge the ability to solve cold cases and perhaps seek justice in cases that remain cold.

The case: What happened

The nude body of 15-year-old Eglena Diaz DeLeon was found in the church courtyard of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seguin, Texas in 1992, in the early-morning hours after the area’s massive annual Fiestas Patrias Deiz y Seis celebration.

Her throat was slashed and she had been strangled, authorities said.

How the case went cold

Authorities did have a suspect in mind at the time of Eglena’s death.

Three witnesses said they saw one man -- Guadalupe Chino Sandoval -- near the crime scene, but police weren’t able to build a case that was strong enough to charge him.

Reopening the case

Nine years later, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Cold Case Unit reopened the case.

The unit, working in conjunction with the Seguin Police Department for three months, finally found something that linked Sandoval to Eglena. A blue bandanna found near the crime scene held Sandoval’s DNA and Eglena’s blood, reported.

Naming him a killer

The original suspect, Sandoval, was arrested.

He was a welder who had married and raised two children in the time since the murder. He lived 11 miles from the town where Eglena’s body had been found, according to a San Antonio Express-News report.

The DNA find led to trial and Sandoval’s conviction. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Sandoval remains behind bars in Rosharon, Texas. Officials denied his parole in 2017. His projected release is June 15, 2077.

When Sandoval was arrested, Seguin Police Chief Gary Hopper said told the San Antonio Express-News the murder had “haunted” the community.

“It was a brutal, brutal murder,” he said. "It’s been personal for this entire community. It was always in the back of people’s minds.”

Do you remember a murder case that you’d like us to investigate? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.