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Man Sentenced to Death in “Sweetheart Murders” Case

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The families of John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves were given closure as the man convicted of killing the couple was handed the death penalty.

“Emotionally, it was very difficult to sit there,” said Riggins’ mother, Cecelia

Riggins and Gonsalves were killed by Hirschfield in 1980. The killings were dubbed the “Sweetheart Murders.”

The case would go unsolved for more than 20 years until DNA evidence linked Hirschfield to the killings in 2002. He was already serving time in Washington State for a child rape conviction, but was then extradited to California and charged with the murders in 2004.

“Richard Hirschfield is evil. He’s a very evil man,” Riggins’ father, Richard, said outside of the court room Friday.

Hirschfield was convicted eight years later in November 2012.

“You can say, ‘the system took that long?’ I got to admire the people who stayed with it,” Richard Riggans said.


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