| Crime |

Andre Jackson among trio busted for Jacqueline Gallegos's shocking cold-case murder

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Periodically, we post about unsolved murders in Denver -- and one of the ten cases we featured last May focused on the 1994 slaying of Jacqueline Gallegos. Now, however, a grand jury has indicted three men -- Andre Jackson, Samuel Sims and Jackie McConnell -- with the grisly and shocking crime. Details and the document below. Here's the personal story about the Gallegos case as shared on the invaluable website Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons:

Jacqueline Collette Gallegos, 28, graduated from Great Bend (KS) High school. Next to the oldest of seven children, she loved music, dancing and being with friends. Jackie liked to write poetry and was a fantastic artist drawing caricatures and animals. She was the devoted mother of five children: Anthony, Luis, Robert, Monique and Lorena. Jackie was outgoing and would "take in the underdog anytime," according to her mother, Linda Atz. On July 12, 1994, Jackie was visiting at a friend's home when, according to a witness, intruders posing as federal agents forced their way into the house. Jackie was bound, raped and sodomized; they cut her throat and stabbed her over 30 times. Another person was also killed but the one they were apparently after survived. No one has ever been apprehended for this crime.

The indictment against Jackson (nicknamed "Dre"), Sims (known as "Sparky") and McConnell provides more information, much of it brutal.

About 4:30 a.m. on July 12 [the indictment mentions "June," but it's a misprint], the document says Denver police officers and paramedics from Denver Health arrived at 3234 Larimer Street to find a man named Mack Martinez lying in the entryway of the home. His ankles were bound and he was badly hurt.

Further inside, they discovered two more people: Nelson Swiggett and Gallegos. Swiggett's ankles were also bound, and he had suffered multiple stab wounds. Gallegos, for her part, was found lying naked in a bedroom with what was described as "a sharp force injury to her throat."

Both Swiggett and Gallegos died of their injuries, but Martinez, described as a "suspected drug dealer," survived and was able to tell police what happened. According to him, five or six intruders -- one with a shotgun -- forced their way into the home at about 3 a.m. Their faces were covered and they wore dark clothes.

The men ordered Martinez into the bedroom and demanded money and drugs -- and their methods of persuasion were severe. After his eyes were covered, he's said to have been tied up and tortured with a wire hanger and a knife, with the latter being used to make a cut on his throat.

Gallegos was in the same room, and Martinez said that as he was being abused, he could hear three male voices and the sound of her being sexually assaulted.

Swiggett was in another part of the house. Martinez recalled hearing him "being beaten and begging for his life," the indictment says.

Continue for more on the break in the Jacqueline Gallegos cold case, plus photos and the indictment. After the men left, allegedly with jewelry, a watch, cash from his wallet, plus a TV and stereo equipment, Martinez was able to make it to the front door, where he saw a passerby and asked him to call 911.

During the investigation, the indictment cites witnesses who pointed to all three of the men charged in the crime. One person told cops McConnell had talked about being present in the house but denying that he'd personally killed anyone; rather, he said he'd only "poked people with a coat hanger."

A second witness quotes McConnell as having confessed to witnessing a rape -- and wishing that he'd left.

Other witnesses recalled Jackson talking about his participation in the robbery. He supposedly denied having taken part in the sexual assault: He claimed Sims was the person who'd raped and then killed her. However, Jackson allegedly admitted to stabbing "at least one of the people in the house," the indictment states.

And Sims? Multiple witnesses told the authorities that he'd shared an account of the night's activities with them -- including that he'd "stabbed people and cut people's throats."

The evidence noted in the indictment doesn't end there. The document reveals that DNA profiles were developed for Sims and Jackson and then compared with material from Gallegos's original sexual-assault kit, which suggested that two or more individuals had raped her. A DNA profile obtained from sperm on a vaginal swab matched Sims; the odds against the random selection of an unrelated individual are "estimated to be less than 1 in 8.9 trillion," the document says.

Jackson, too, scored a match, albeit one with considerably less certainty -- a "1 in 110,000" chance of misidentification, the indictment allows.

McConnell isn't mentioned in the DNA portion of the filing, suggesting that he was telling the truth about not taking part in Gallegos's rape. Nonetheless, he has been charged with what the Denver District Attorney's Office dubs "multiple charges" of first-degree murder, plus one attempted-murder count. Jackson and Sims have been handed the same, plus a sexual-assault accusation.

Jackson and McConnell are being held without bond in the Denver Detention Center in advance of arraignments scheduled for March; they've already made their initial court appearances. Sims is in custody as well, but the bars he's looking through are in Wichita, Kansas.

Look below to see booking photos of Jackson, McConnell and Sims, followed by the indictment.

Jackson-Sims-McConnell Indictment

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Ten unsolved Denver murders: Read personal stories of the victims."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.