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Family of slain Utah couple say goodbye without answers

Published January 4, 2013 9:34 pm

S.L. County • Police looking for suspect in last month's killings.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The families of Ralph Salazar and Alice Griego, a Salt Lake County couple who police say were shot inside Salazar's house before it was set on fire in December, have finally laid their loved ones to rest. But the motive for their killings remains a painful mystery.

"The family's basically on pins and needles," said Lisa DeHerrera, Salazar's niece.

Salazar's body was cremated after the Dec. 14 killings, and on Friday, Griego's family said their final goodbyes at her funeral.

Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said Friday that detectives are still following leads but continued to implore the public for help in providing any information about the baffling case.

Firefighters were initially called to Salazar's house at 2811 Ksel Drive on the morning of Dec. 14 to extinguish a fire in the master bedroom. When they arrived, they discovered the bodies of Salazar and Griego inside. Police have since determined the couple were shot and the fire was set intentionally, but the ensuing blaze has made it difficult to find any other clues.

"We don't believe that it was a random deal," Hoyal said of the killings. "We are trying to find a clear-cut motive as to why these people were targeted."

Hoyal declined to say whether there was any evidence that anything was stolen from the house, where Salazar and Griego were both living at the time.

DeHerrera said she also is at a loss to explain why anyone would want to kill her uncle and his girlfriend in cold blood.

"He didn't make enemies," she said. "He had a personality that was energetic, magnetic."

Griego, whom Salazar had been dating for about two years, was a special presence in Salazar's life and fit in well with the rest of his family, according to DeHerrera.

"My uncle has dated a lot over the years, but he never introduced any women to the family until Alice," she said. "The sun rose and set with her."

Griego was born in Colorado and moved to the Salt Lake area when her children were young. A single mother of five, Griego worked hard, spending more than 15 years in the bakery section of a Salt Lake City Smith's grocery store with hardly a day off, according to her son, Frankie Sisneros.

"The whole reason we found out [about her death] was because she didn't show up at work," Sisneros said. "That was unlike my mom."

Sisneros said Salazar "spoiled" his mom, taking her on trips around the country and even on a one-month vacation to Europe.

"The last two years were the happiest times of her life," Sisneros said.

Griego met Salazar, also a Colorado native, while she was renting property owned by him about two years ago. Their similar back stories of hard work and sacrifice made them a good match, family members said.

According to DeHerrera, Salazar "came from nothing" before he saved enough to start his own business, RS Aluminum. He moved with his parents to Salt Lake City when he was a teenager and graduated from West High School. Salazar had one adult daughter.

The couple had planned to retire one day and spend their time traveling the world until that dream was cut short by their violent and untimely deaths.

"They really didn't deserve that," Sisneros said. "We want somebody to pay for this."

Police are asking anyone with information on the case to call the UPD detectives bureau at 801-743-5915.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion