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Buried Alive: Spouse-Killing Monster Finds His Fate After Putting Breathing Estranged Wife in Shallow Hand-Dug Grave

david pagniano sandra pagniano yavapai county sheriffs office
Source: Yavapai County Sheriffs Office

David Pagniano murdered wife Sandra Pagniano in May 2017.

Jun. 9 2024, Published 6:00 a.m. ET

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Horrid husband David Pagniano was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of of parole — seven years after killing his ex-wife, Sandra, by burying the bound and gagged woman alive in a shallow grave 10 miles from their Arizona home, has learned.

David, 62, recently pleaded guilty to the disturbing crime shortly before his trial was due to begin and put himself at the mercy of the judge without a deal in place.

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david pagniano mugshot
Source: Yavapai County Sheriffs Office

David was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

The 62-year-old was slapped with the hefty sentence — plus a 16-and-a-half year term for kidnapping, forgery, and fraud — on May 9. But the cruel coward avoided a potential death penalty as Yavapai County officials had intended to seek the ultimate punishment, according to the Globe.

County Attorney Dennis McGrane said his office had wanted the sadistic killer to pay with his life because of the "horrific circumstances" surrounding the abduction and torturous murder of the 39-year-old mother-of-two.

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pagniano sandra yavapai county sheriffs office
Source: Yavapai County Sheriffs Office

Sandra's body was discovered in a shallow grave 10 miles from the couple's home.

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"Sandra was kidnapped from her home while her children slept nearby, bound in packing tape, driven to a remote location and buried alive," McGrane said, according to ABC News.

"The evidence revealed she vigorously struggled while she was in the grave, and was likely conscious for up to five minutes after being buried."

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Sandra, 39, was seeking a divorce when she vanished in May 2017 and a friend filed a missing person's report. At the time, she still lived with David and their two young daughters — then eight and 12-years-old — in the couple's residence near Prescott.

The pair's contentious split triggered a criminal investigation.

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david pagniano sentenced

David was convicted of forging two notes said to be written by Sandra that gave him their house, cards and custody of their kids.

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Sandra's body was later found in a hand-dug hole. A medical examiner confirmed the victim, who was secured with packing tape, had been callously buried alive.

Investigators charge cell phone evidence showed David was at the gravesite days before his spouse vanished — and the night she was dragged to her doom as their children slept.

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Two notes credited to Sandra were filed in court by her husband after her disappearance, stating she'd given him their house, cars and custody of their kids. A forensic examination of the notes determined the letters were actually written by the killer himself.

A grand jury indicted David on a charge of first-degree murder.



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