Ruben Gallegos

Gallegos, circa 1992; Jenaro Torres

  • Missing Since 05/01/1992
  • Missing From Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Age 19 years old
  • Height and Weight Unknown
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic male. Black hair.

Details of Disappearance

Gallegos is originally from El Paso, Texas. He was living with his sister and brother-in-law in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1992. and worked part time at the Navy exchange. He was assigned $80,000 to cash sailors' paychecks on May 1, 1992.

He was in his cashier's cage at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base Exchange when Jenaro Torres, a Department of Defense police officer assigned to Pearl Harbor, escorted him out of the area. A photograph of Torres is posted with this case summary. He was supposed to be on leave that day, but showed up at the Navy exchange in full uniform.

Gallegos was carrying all the Navy exchange money in a bag with him when he left with Torres. He has never been heard from again.

Military police arrested Torres six hours after Gallegos vanished. In his car was a Smith & Wesson handgun with one live round and three spent cartridges, his uniform, a portable police scanner, a stun gun and a bag which contained Gallegos's wallet and hairbrush and a key to the cashier cage.

All but about $2,000 of the missing money was also found wrapped in a trash bag inside a satchel in the trunk of Torres's vehicle. No blood or gunshot residue were found in the car, however.

Torres was originally charged with kidnapping Gallegos, but he pleaded guilty to theft and a firearms violation later in 1992 and was sentenced to two years in prison. Investigators believed he had murdered Gallegos while robbing him of the $80,000, but they did not have enough evidence to charge him at the time.

In December 2005, Torres was indicted for Gallegos's murder after additional witnesses came forward.

At his trial, Torres's attorneys argued that Gallegos was a willing participant in the Navy exchange robbery and is in hiding somewhere outside Hawaii to avoid legal consequences. Prosecutors argued that Torres was having financial problems in 1992 and committed the robbery as a result, killing Gallegos in the process.

Torres was convicted of second-degree murder in Gallegos's case in March 2007. He was sentenced to life in prison, and the state parole board decided he must serve 75 years before he becomes eligible for release.

In December 2009, however, Torres's conviction was overturned on appeal. He spent more than three years awaiting a re-trial until he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in March 2013. Torres pleaded no contest to first-degree assault. A no contest plea doesn't admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence to convict the defendant should the case go to trial.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison, plus five additional years for using a gun in the commission of the crime. Prosecutors said the plea agreement was reasonable because three witnesses in the case are now deceased.

Gallegos was close to his family at the time he went missing, but they have not heard from him since May 1992. He is described as a shy, naive young man who planned to attend Hawaii Pacific University in the future.

He had no passport at the time of his disappearance. His credit has not been used since 1992, his bank accounts have not been accessed, and he hasn't received any parking tickets.

Authorities have never found Gallegos's remains and Torres has refused to reveal their location. Investigators believe Gallegos's body may have been disposed in an isolated area near the Waipahu High School on the Waipio Peninsula.

Investigating Agency

  • Hawaii Attorney General's Office 808-586-1160

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 9, 2013; details of disappearance updated.