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Parents hold out hope

killers will be found

DAVID L. TEIBEL Citizen Staff Writer

The unsolved cases grow cold, memories fade, and eventually the public forgets.

But not the families of children who have been murdered here.

Some relatives are determined that a child’s death will not be forgotten, even if it means exposing their feelings for public display.

”She liked school. She liked to sing,” said Lenora Alvarez, 52, grandmother of Esther ”Lizette” Galaz.

She said she was ”real close” with the little girl.

Six-year-old Esther was sexually assaulted and murdered near South Columbus Boulevard and East 29th Street on Dec. 19, 1994.

”She’s my granddaughter,” Alvarez said, and ”we miss her the most on the anniversaries of her death.”

Esther, killed five days before Christmas, ”didn’t even get to open her Christmas presents,” said her uncle, Manuel Galaz.

Esther’s relatives talked about their pain yesterday at a press conference held by Gail Leland, coordinator of Parents of Murdered Children and Other Survivors of Homicide.

Leland, whose 14-year-old son was murdered here 16 years ago, founded the support group.

Members lobby for continued publicity on the cases – no matter how old – in the hope that reminders will help solve the killings.

Leland held the press conference to highlight a series of 88-CRIME reenactments she hopes will run this week on local television stations.

The re-enactments portray the killings of seven Tucson children.

Esther Galaz was one of them.

Heather Johnson, 17, was another.

Her mother, Jan Johnson, also spoke at yesterday’s press conference.

”You always wonder what would her life have been like, what would she have become,” she said.

Johnson said she believes people in the Tucson area have information on her daughter’s death and ”I’m hoping time will make them come forth.”

Unsolved cases profiled by 88-CRIME

Here are the seven unsolved cases profiled by 88-CRIME, a Pima County Attorney’s Office program through which callers may leave anonymous tips.

Robert Craig Stevens, 13

On Sept. 30, 1979, Craig, as he was called, failed to return to his Southeast Side home after leaving to ride his bicycle.

His parents reported him missing, and his body was found Oct. 14, 1979 in the desert near South Craycroft Road and Interstate 10, not far from where he lived.

A leather thong was wrapped around his neck.

Richard Leland, 14

Richard disappeared from his home on June 17, 1981. His body was found in the desert near West Ina Road and North La CaƱada Drive on July 14, 1981. He had been beaten to death.

Margaret Carabetta, 15

She disappeared from her home on April 8, 1982. The following day her beaten, bound body was found in a desert area at North Craycroft and East Pinchot roads.

Heather Johnson, 17

On Sept. 3, 1985, she was reported missing from her home. Three months later her skeletal remains were found in a remote desert area near Ryan Airfield, about 12 miles southwest of downtown Tucson.

Diane Marie Hundt, 17

She left her home at 9 p.m. Dec. 31, 1985. Her body was found the next day in a desert area near East Tanque Verde Road.

She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

James ”Jimmy” Hendrickson, 12

On June 11, 1991, he left his home to spend the night at the near North Side home of the baby sitter’s cousin, a middle-age man. Detectives have said the man told them Jimmy left his home during the night.

He has not been seen or heard from since and, while no body has been found, he is believed to have been murdered.

Esther Galaz, 6

On Dec. 19, 1994, she disappeared from the courtyard of her apartment complex, where she had been playing.

She may have been lured away by a man seen in the area. Her body was found under a mattress in a drainage ditch in a nearby vacant lot the next day.

The 88-CRIME program is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information called in through the program that leads to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in any of the child murder cases.

Also, the Cathy Fritz Reward Fund, named after a 7-year-old girl murdered here in 1982, is offering up to $10,000 for such information called in through 88-CRIME.

Manuel Galaz hopes renewed interest in the cases may bring forth information on a suspect, at least in his niece Esther’s case.

”I’m pretty sure someone knows; there’s always someone who knows,” he said.

At 9 a.m. Dec. 20 a Mass will be said for Esther at San Ignacio Church, 785 W. Saguaro St.

That will be followed by a ceremony to bless a grave marker for Esther in Babyland at Holy Hope Cemetery, 3555 N. Oracle Road, said Esther’s grandmother, Lenora Alvarez.

The grave marker was purchased with money donated to the family by Tucsonans.

Also on Dec. 22, the family of Rachel Boryczewski, a 16-year-old murdered here July 18, will make personal appeals to the public to help solve her death by calling in any information it may have to authorities.

The public appeal will be made outside a convenience market in the 6700 block of North Sandario Road.

Rachel, a Marana High School student, had left her Marana home the night of July 18 while her parents slept.

They reported her missing the next day.

Her body was found shortly before midnight that day by a park ranger near the turnoff to Saguaro National Park west’s visitor center in the 2600 block of North Kinney Road.

She had been shot several times.


Remembering murdered children

Manuel Galaz holds a photo of his niece Esther Galaz, who disappeared in December 1994. At left is Esther’s aunt Matilda Galaz; at right is Esther’s grandmother Lenora Alvarez.

- Jan Johnson, whose daughter Heather Johnson, 17, was murdered

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