Tulare County Sheriff hopes video re-enactment will help solve cold case

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tulare County Sheriff's detectives believe they are on the brink of solving the murder of a Strathmore woman gunned down 12 years ago during a robbery.

Detectives say Maria Sanchez was a mother and grandmother who never gave the robbers a reason to fire.

She was shot to death by two men wearing masks. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux is trying a new, more dramatic approach to solve cold cases and he's even taking his message to the county jail.

In a voice, that's supposed to be Sanchez speaking about her death, says, "I was 68 years old when I was murdered."

In a video re-enactment on the Tulare County Sheriff's Facebook page, the story of Sanchez is shared, mimicking what she would say if she were telling her own story.

Sanchez was working at the La Tienda market that day in September 2006. Detectives say Sanchez gave the robbers the money they demanded, but they killed her anyway on the way out.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux believes the suspects are still in the area and have seen the recent video depicting her senseless murder. Detectives have some promising information, but they need more evidence or witness accounts to make an arrest.

"We feel that the domino is rocking and if that domino can just fall forward- the whole case comes together," said Boudreaux.

Family and friends said Mary, as they called her, worked long hours in the Strathmore store she owned with her husband, Fernando. He also died several years ago, brokenhearted. He told his children his dying wish was to know who gunned down the love of his life.

Close family friend, Juan Sanchez said, "He said 'before I die, I want to know who killed my wife' and probably they remember that was his wish that never came true."

Mary's humble beginnings and background as a farmworker gave her a heart for those who couldn't afford the basics. She often gave items away to customers with little means. Soveda Aguilar thinks about her every time she walks past the store that recently sold.

She knew how to greet her customers. She knew how to talk to them and make them feel comfortable in her store.

The video, that's filled with emotion, is even being shown in the Tulare County Jail to inmates. The sheriff is appealing to anyone who may be willing, more than a decade later, to give detectives the information they need to solve the case.

Boudreaux said, "Someone is holding on tight to some information that truly will help."

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and prosecution.
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