The tale of Sandra Galas’ death is indeed a tragic one which only becomes more heartbreaking due to the struggles that her family, particularly her father, faced after the young woman’s demise. NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Other Side of Paradise,’ covers this story that unfolded in Hawaii and was full of complications. Naturally, people have been eager to learn more about the details of this particular case and who exactly was behind Sandra’s death. If you are also looking for answers regarding the same, we have you covered!
How Did Sandra Galas Die?
Born on May 15, 1978, in Japan, Sandra “Sandy” Galas (née Mendonca) grew up in Kauai, Hawaii, with her parents, Larry and Toshie Mendonca, and older brother, Lawrence Jr. She was a mother to two boys named Austin and Brayden, whom she had with her husband, Darren Galas. Married in 1999, the couple separated in 2005, though they had not been officially divorced before Sandra’s passing. Loved ones remember her as a beautiful and intelligent person who loved going out with friends and living life to the fullest.
While Sandra’s friends and family doted on her, a cruel incident changed their lives in January 2006. On January 25, a young woman named Sandra’s boyfriend, Ryan Shinjo came to visit her in the morning. However, he found her garage door closed, yet the lights were on the inside. He immediately found the scene suspicious and went inside, only to witness a terrifying sight. 27-year-old Sandra sat lifeless in her car, and her body slumped toward the passenger’s seat.
Petrified, Ryan immediately called the police, and they notified the victim’s parents. Medical examiners noticed that her body bore signs of assault and spotted lacerations on her neck. Eventually, an autopsy revealed that Sandra had been beaten badly and had died of strangulation. The clear case of violence shook the people who lived in the area, and the police immediately marked it as a homicide investigation.
Who Killed Sandra Galas?
Given the nature of Sandra’s death and her complicated personal relationships, the authorities could not help but suspect Darren Galas and Ryan Shinjo. She has apparently split from the former after finding out about his infidelity, and the two shared custody of their children. When questioned by the authorities, Darren stated that Sandra was supposed to pick up their sons from his house on the day she died but never showed up. However, the investigators were unsatisfied with his answers and took him into custody.
Following Darren’s arrest, his home was searched, yet given the lack of evidence, he was released and granted custody of his kids. Surprisingly, he, once again, became a suspect in 2008 when forensic analysis revealed that his DNA was present on the clothes that Sandra wore when she died. This discovery was not enough for the prosecutors as they pointed out that she and Darren were still married at the time of the incident. This meant that he could not be brought up on charges.
The case became cold until 2012, when a new investigator was assigned to find the truth. During the latest round of research, Sandra’s letters to her divorce attorney were discovered, which painted a grim picture. According to them, she reportedly feared Darren’s violent behavior, which did not paint him in a good light. However, the most significant evidence was perhaps the latter’s habit of being organized.
As per reports, Darren kept a log of every time his estranged wife upset him. The entries were meticulously detailed and would include incidents like Sandra being late to pick up the kids. Though the man seemed to have at least one grievance against Sandra almost every day, he had made no entry on the day of her murder. This led the police to believe that Darren had killed his wife, and he was indicted in October 2012 for second-degree murder, with the bail set at $1 million.
Darren was free on bail for the next few years as the prosecutors tried to build a case. One of the pivotal points in favor of the defense was the criminal record of Ryan Shinjo, Sandra’s boyfriend and the other suspect in the case. As it turns out, he was arrested due to meth trafficking charges soon after her death. While in custody, Ryan remained close-mouthed about Sandra’s death. But when he was released, he ended up sharing his account of the violent behavior that he had seen Darren commit against the victim.
In January 2018, Darren reached a plea deal, pleading no contest to the charge of first-degree assault inflicting serious bodily harm. This upset Sandra’s family as they did not think it was enough. Meanwhile, the prosecutors felt that this might be better than if the case reached the courts, as there was a chance that Darren would walk off scot-free due to a lack of evidence. In May 2018, he was given a maximum term of 10 years in prison. In March 2022, the parole board reduced Darren’s minimum term of 8.5 years by six months.
Read More: Darren Galas: Where is Sandra Galas’ Ex-Husband Now?