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Murder of Dawn Sandoval by ex-husband Michael Encinias investigated on The Murder Tapes

Profile pic of Dawn Sandoval
Dawn Sandoval was murdered by her ex-husband, Michael Encinias. Pic credit: Family photo

The Murder Tapes is in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, to investigate the murder of Dawn Sandoval, who was murdered by her ex-husband, Michael Encinias.

Encinias was a domestic abuser who killed the 46-year-old mother of his children because he was unhappy with their divorce and the distribution of their joint estate.

Sandoval and Encinias had been married for 19 years but were divorced just two months before the mother-of-two vanished from her home in April 2018.

Dawn’s remains were discovered a few weeks later on the mesa in a remote area of Sandoval County, NM. Her remains had been set alight.

The couple’s twin children later told detectives that they had heard their parents arguing the night before Sandoval went missing.

When the detectives first interviewed Encinias, he had scratch marks on his face and neck, which he claimed had been caused by Sandoval when she attacked him.

Michael Encinias had abused Dawn Sandoval

It then transpired that Encinias had a long history of domestic abuse directed at his wife. Investigators spoke to a family friend who claimed she’d seen evidence of Encinias’s abuse in the past.

The friend said Sandoval had once come to her with bleeding hands and ripped clothing and said that Encinias “had dragged her.”

The police learned from court documents that the couple’s divorce had been finalized around the time of the murder. Sandoval had been granted rights to Encinias’s retirement, and she was also awarded the majority of the value of their home and its belongings.

In November of 2018, Encinias approached the probate judge and attempted to gain control of all of his ex-wife’s estate. He was arrested a month later and charged with murder and two counts of tampering with evidence.

In  August 2019, Encinias was found guilty of second-degree murder and guilty on one of the charges of tampering with evidence. He was sentenced in November of that year to a total of 18 years behind bars.

More from The Murder Tapes

Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on The Murder Tapes.

Byron Edwards was stabbed 20 times in his home in Evansville, Indiana, in 2017. His killer, Elijah Andrew Johnson, was already in custody for a violent assault when he admitted to the murder, which he claimed was done in self-defense.

Juarez-Montanez and Cornell Head were both interested in the same woman in Kalamazoo, Michigan. One night in 2017, Juarez-Montanez confronted Head and his girlfriend in a parking lot opposite her apartment. Head then shot him multiple times in the torso and fled the scene.

The Murder Tapes air at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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