Never Forget Sandy G
Four years after her mysterious death, Sandy G’s family hosts a golf tournament to benefit YWCA
You see the words on posters plastered by the hundreds on telephone poles, storefront windows and bulletin boards – NEVER FORGET SANDY G. It’s also a bumper sticker and the name of an annual golf tournament to be held Saturday, June 26, that raises funds for the YWCA of Kaua’i to help eliminate violence against women.
On the Sandy G posters is a photo of a beautiful young woman, mother of two small boys, who on Jan. 25, 2006, was found murdered in her car in her garage in Ele’ele. According to her death certificate, Sandy G, 27, died of strangulation with a cordlike object and blunt-force trauma to her head.
Her killer remains at large.
Sandy G is Sandra Galas, the daughter of Larry and Toshie Mendonca, and sister of Lawrence. The family has never given up hope that her killer will be brought to justice.
“From day one, I vowed that I will never stop pushing the case until either I’m in the grave or the case is solved,” says Larry Mendonca. “That’s my lifelong mission, you might say.”
Mendonca – it’s Portuguese, pronounced with a soft “c” at the end (the family history on Kaua’i starts in Ele’ele) -says Sandy’s murder devastated the family.
“We had two children, one boy and one girl. We lost half of that. Half of our hearts are gone.”
At the time of her death, Sandy G was an assistant food and beverage manager at Grand Hyatt in Poipu. By all accounts, she was a natural supervisor who could get 110 percent from her employees – and they loved giving it.
As testimony to how well she was loved, the young woman who had perfect attendance for eight years of grammar school at St. Catherine’s, who ran track, danced hula, and who had attended UH-Hilo and had so much going for her, drew well over 750 people to her funeral service at Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo. She’s buried at the cemetery there with the Mendonca ancestors.
The case has drawn national media attention from Dateline NBC, CBS News 48 Hours and America’s Most Wanted. On Kaua’i, police continue to search for Sandy G’s killer and Mendonca continues to check in with them.
When Darryl Perry was sworn in as the new police chief in 2007, Mendonca went calling. After bringing Perry up to speed on the case from his standpoint, Mendonca says Perry told him that, if anything happened to Mendonca, he’d take on the case and push it forward. Later, Mendonca says, Perry told him words to the effect, “You know, I can’t retire till I get this case solved.”
The upcoming golf tour-ney serves two purposes, says Mendonca. It helps fund YWCA efforts to eliminate violence and it keeps Sandy G’s case alive.
Mendonca, an Air Force retiree who worked in communications intelligence and then managed Papa’a Bay ranch for a decade, says, “This case is so involved and so painful. It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride, building your hopes up and crashing them down.”
And until her killer is caught, every Sunday closest to May 15, the day she was born, to Jan. 25, the day she died, Larry and Toshie will attend Sunday Mass as they usually do, but with one difference. They will don their polo shirts, the ones they wear for the golf tourneys, embroidered with the words “NEVER FORGET SANDY G” on the front and “Sandra Mendonca May 15, 1978-Jan. 25, 2006” on the back.
NEVER FORGET SANDY G GOLF TOURNAMENT
The Never Forget Sandy G golf tournament will take place Saturday, June 26, at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at Kaua’i Lagoons Golf Club. The tourney is a three-person modified scramble that includes lunch, awards and prizes. To register, visit online at www.ywcakauai.org; or call Julia Adolfo 634-2883.
All proceeds benefit the YWCA Kaua’i.
The Mendoncas offer a $20,000 reward to anyone who has information leading to an arrest and conviction. Larry Mendonca would like to see every car with a NEVER FORGET SANDY G bumper sticker.
They’re available free for the asking.
Visit https://www.neverforgetsandyg.com/ and send an e-mail, or call 822-0726.