Nearly two weeks after two people were shot to death and their bodies burned in Salt Lake County, police are working to make sense of the mysterious murders.
Ralph Salazar, 59, and Alice Griego, 55, died of gunshot wounds on Dec. 14, according to police. Their bodies were discovered by firefighters in a bedroom at Salazar’s home, 2811 E. Ksel Drive, where investigators determined an accelerant was used to create the blaze.
On Thursday, Unified Police Detective Ken Hansen said authorities still have no motive for the killings. Hansen said detectives have combed through the crime scene but gathering evidence has been difficult due to fire and water damage. Police also have been unable to find something amiss in the victims’ lives that could have precipitated their deaths.
Hansen did not say how many shots were fired or how many suspects police are seeking. He added that police now hope friends or associates of the victims might be able to shed light on what happened.
Police identified Salazar last week but waited until Wednesday to release Griego’s name. According to Hansen, the delay was caused by Griego’s lack of recent dental records, which are used to make a positive identification.
Hansen had few details about the victims but he did confirm that Griego had worked in the bakery at Smith’s in downtown Salt Lake City for the last 15 years. Former co-workers at the store declined to comment on Thursday.
He also said Griego had children, although he had no information about them.
Salazar’s neighbors described him Thursday as a friend and contributing member of the neighborhood. John Ragsdale, who lives two homes up the street, mentioned that he and Salazar had shared cocktails on several occasions. Ragsdale characterized Salazar as a friendly man who had bested him at golf on multiple occasions.
“He was a great golfer,” Ragsdale said. “And he was one of the friendliest people I’ve known.”
Ragsdale said his wife, Sharon, heard a single gunshot the night of the murder.
Neighbor Paul Kemp also spoke highly of Salazar, saying he moved into the neighborhood about eight years ago and rehabilitated a once-dilapidated home.
“He was the best neighbor you could possibly ask for,” Kemp said, adding that Salazar worked professionally as a contractor.
Kemp’s home is immediately adjacent to Salazar’s, and from the driveway Thursday afternoon he pointed out the bedroom where the victims died. The windows were still darkened —possibly fromsmoke damage — and a pane of glass remained cracked, apparently from heat. Kemp said investigators were at the home for three days. By the third day they had carried out “at least 25 trash bags of stuff.”
Both neighbors said they had only seen or spoken to Griego in passing.
Ralph Salazar and Alice Griego were killed Dec. 14. Anyone with information about the crime is urged to call the Unified Police Department at 801-743-7000.