To The Editor: On Sandy Giles ‘Cold Case’

In May 2017, Parker Live was one of the few news outlets to cover the disappearance of an Alabama woman called Sandy Giles. The story generated a lot of interest and speculation in the Parker area, because Sandy’s car was discovered not far outside of town, a few miles west on CA-62. There were precious few clues as to where she may have gone, and her family was distressed by her disappearance.

Then, last November, we reported that a body matching Sandy had been discovered, 10 feet off the side of the same highway, just 800 feet from where her car was found several months earlier. One of Sandy’s family members told the public that law enforcement suspected that road graders had inadvertently covered her with dirt as they graded the road a few days after her disappearance, precluding searchers from finding her until some researchers working along the highway made the discovery the following Fall.

But some people aren’t happy with this explanation. Comments have continued to flow about Sandy’s death, and this one is just the latest:

“Hi John,

Based on the 10 by 800 foot calculation of where her body was found and the reasonable assumption that Sandy Giles body did not lay there along the road, covered by dirt/sand, for 6 months, do you know if the owners of that RV/Boat junkyard right where she was found were questioned and if so, did San Bernardino get a search warrant to bring their cadaver dogs onto that property?

No one can seem to get any science out of this supposed “Forensic Autopsy”. If Sandy was held captive on this property for any duration of time, a 1st year Forensic Scientist could rule this property out very quickly. Of course with that said we would have to presume San Bernardino has someone or people of this caliber, so far there is no evidence that San Bernardino has that expertise.

Also, it does not appear that these kind and loving people in Alabama, ie, Sandy’s family, have an Attorney who could force the issues instead of this case just going cold.

Thanks.”

– Chris S.

Chris isn’t alone in his skepticism. Other comments include criticism of the way law enforcement handled the case, especially San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which was in charge of investigating Sandy’s disappearance, the belief that others know more than what they’re saying, the assertion that there’s some truth that isn’t being reported, that kind of thing.

To answer Chris’s question: no, I don’t know whether the owners of any nearby junkyard were questioned. (To my knowledge there is no junkyard “right where she was found”.

But if you’ll forgive me, there’s a better question to ask of the doubters here, I think, and it has to do with Occam’s Razor (the principle that the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one).

Consider the odds of the following scenarios being true:

  1. Sandy suffered a (fairly common) fatal medical emergency after attempting to walk to get gas in the summer heat, and was not discovered for several months because of routine grading on the not-well-trodden desert highway;
  2. Sandy was the victim of a (extremely uncommon) kidnapping and murder plot, and the perpetrators waited several months before covertly placing her rapidly-decomposing body back out on the highway again.

I’m no detective, but there’s little doubt in my mind as to which is the more plausible explanation, and the simplest. Occasionally there are more complex circumstances, of course, so it’s not impossible. But in the absence of any compelling reason to suspect otherwise, Occam’s Razor would dictate that we accept the simpler explanation here.

There’s no doubt that Sandy’s death was very sad. I talked to her daughter Kendal after she disappeared, and she was definitely distressed about it, as anybody in her shoes would be. The family went through a lot last year, and I’m sure they’re still in grief.

But that doesn’t mean some nefarious thing happened, for no known reason or motive, in an area not known for such things and with no history of it. And that isn’t me being uniquely defensive of the Parker area because I live here; it’s just a probability thing. Sometimes sad things happen, and while they’re packed full of emotion for the people invested in them, it doesn’t mean that they’re the result of a wicked plot or evil intent.

What do you think, reader? Do you agree with me? If not, feel free to let us know using the comments section below. Why do you think the simpler theory does not explain the facts of Sandy’s tragic death? After all, it’s always good to have an open mind about these things.

John Wright
Editor

13 comments

  1. Nice story. But those are not the only two possible senarios. Something nafarious could have happened. There are other more plausible explainatons than no. 2 above. For example: a nafarious act happened right where she layed.

  2. Blacki- The point is that I haven’t heard any reason why #1 is not the most likely answer. The reason law enforcement agencies are not looking for any kidnapper or murderer is because there’s literally no evidence anything suspicious happened to Sandy. In the absence of such evidence, the simplest answer is probably the right one.

  3. Nobody missed your point. The other readers are not buying the as is story because it just don’t add up and they don’t believe the searchers nor the road grader, nor numerous police, nor the cadaver dogs would miss a body 10 feet from the road. I don buy the maniac night mechanic theory either but the public would lIke someone from a news source to help them understand what happened by answering these ?s. If the truth is simple. So should be the answers above.

  4. As I mentioned above, there is no junkyard owner to interview, as far as I know. No junkyard nearby to search with a cadaver dog. Just a road, and, eventually, a body. It amazes me that people think it’s coherent to assert (a) that law enforcement are inept and not doing their job; and (b) there’s no way agencies would have missed a body! These things are mutually exclusive. Personally, I have no trouble accepting that a body is hard to miss, especially in the summer heat, especially when it’s been inadvertently covered by dirt.

  5. You seem to be hung up on the maniac mechanic theory. Not me.

  6. No, I’m responding directly to the comment that– …never mind. 🙂 Thanks for the convo.

  7. John
    I appreciate your thoughts and concern regarding the Sandy Giles case. I agree, all thoughts are to be considered at this point and I truly believe if we could get some real Forensics out of San Bernardino it would or could determine her true fate. If I remember correctly, their first statement was a Homicide, true or false?
    I apologize if I have gotten my coordinates wrong. I am using Google Earth GPS technology along with Kendal’s description of where they told her the body was discovered. In Kendal’s statement she said her mother’s body was discovered 800 feet up the road toward Parker not toward Vidal Junction which is in the opposite direction, again, is this true or false?
    Also, if my depiction of the RV/Boat/Tractor Trailer repair/Dealership, exactly 800 feet from where Sandy’s car was found, was harsh I apologize for that as well. I am going by what I see, a lot of broke down old equipment, on Google Earth in a flyby mode.
    Again John, I stand by the fact, if this family could get some legal California representation I think this case could be solved.
    Chris S.

  8. Thanks for the response Chris – maybe more facts will emerge. Appreciate you for asking the question!

  9. I think Chris S maybe watches a little too much CSI and SVU on TV.

    The property in question is directly across from where they found her, it’s the old Rick’s Marine building. That’s where all the police were parked when they were recovering the body from across the street. I was driving by and saw them there.

    The idea the owner (good people!) of this property had anything to do with it is absurd and can be reasonably discounted out of hand.

    I don’t know if the autopsy will support this but my theory is that she was stuck by a vehicle as she walked along the side of the road. As John has suggested, sometimes the simplest explanation is the most likely. It’s a sad situation and my sympathy to her family but we may never know the truth about what happened that night.

  10. It’s weird. Why would her she try to drive her car down an obvious wash when she’s parked along the highway? I thought she must had gotten hit by a semi because of where her body was. Why wouldn’t the Sheriff wait for her to pull out and leave. Or was it the AAA? Weird stuff.

  11. There were about 6 or 7 people in a search for Sandy. We searched all over. It’s hard to believe she was only 10 feet from the road 800 feet away. She was definitely not in plan site.

  12. While it would help to have autopsy results released, thus ending some speculations, you can’t rule out the nefarious.

    What ever happened to Justin Day? Are these two at all related?

  13. George, I appreciate your imput regarding this case. First, glad you know the good people at Rick’s Marine. I certainly didn’t want to imply or think otherwise. I have only good things to say about Parker and the people who live there. I have traveled through Parker for many many years and relied on the great services your town provides. Oh yea, still a little disappointed about the Dairy Queen closing, who closes a Dairy Queen in a town with an average year round temperature of 80 degrees? I think this is one reason the Sandy Giles case has baffled and saddened me because you just don’t hear about anything like this occurring in or around Parker.
    Second, I was glad to get your information about law enforcement picking up the remains at the point I had on my Google GPS coordinates across the road from Rick’s Marine. This information tells me she was found on the opposite side of the road from where her car had come to a stop in the riverbed/wash. It also gives credence to the idea she was walking toward Parker to get help and or gas, maybe even hoping to get a ride on the correct side of the road, like she did in Essex. If she suffered from a COPD condition, that 800 feet she walked is uphill and as we have all stated it was the middle of May and getting pretty hot.
    I took a further look at that roadside birm and it was a substantial amount of sand, rock and dirt, but I still have a hard time believing a grader operator would not see a body/person from his perch in the glass enclosed cab of this grader. I myself have run these graders but now with enclosed airconditioned cabs, radios and laser controlled blades he could have missed her body.
    I seem to be going back to John’s simpler version theory, she passed out and fell along side of the road and was covered by dirt as she laid there for 6 months, and ultimately turned to skeleton. The fact they found her car keys and cigarette case with her sounds plausible as well. The only item we did not find yet is the red plastic gas container in the trunk of her car. This was the gas container she purchased and filled in Essex and the one that the Highway Patroman helped her with, then put in her trunk along I-40 and sent her on her way. Keep in mind, it would have been empty as she was hiking for help around dusk just outside of Parker, so it may have blown away or was picked up on the side of the road during that 6 months she laid there covered. If for some reason there was no gas container found, could we get the Highway Patroman to weigh in on this subject? Or, is the gas container still in her little gray car? Or removed after it was towed? It is just one more piece of the puzzle. Also, shoes versus flip flops as she walked toward Parker? Theory has it, she changed shoes to walk.
    Again, I believe there are still many unanswered questions pertaining to the “Disappearance of Sandy Giles” and these questions could be cleared up should San Bernardino Law Enforcement and a thorough Forensics come forward with a comprehensive report.
    Example, if she was hit by a vehicle as she walked along side of the road there should be some evidence of blunt force and or a broken bone as the skeletal remains would prove. The question remains,……What else can Forensics tell us about The demise of Sandy Giles.
    If it is truly as simple as our initial theory suggests there will be no additional questions or evidence as otherwise stated.
    Thanks again,
    Chris S.

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