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State boosts cold case reward
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Christine Marie Sexton was 36 years old when she seemingly vanished on April 17, 1989. - photo by Photo Contributed

Law enforcement officials are hoping an increased reward will generate new leads in the decades long search for a woman last seen alive in Turlock.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved Tuesday a reward increase up to $50,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction in a California court of the individual or persons responsible for the disappearance of Christine Marie Sexton.

Sexton was 36 years old when she seemingly vanished on April 17, 1989. She was last seen leaving the now closed Office Cocktail Lounge at 118 S. Center St., around 2 a.m. in the company of friends. She never arrived home.

Sexton’s 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was found 10 days later submerged in a canal by Turlock Reservoir. The discovery was made by a Turlock Irrigation employee working in the area.

The keys were still in the ignition and there were groceries in the vehicle, but no sign of Sexton.

The case was initially investigated by the Turlock Police Department as a missing person case and when the vehicle was found in the county the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation as well.

Investigators believe Sexton was a victim of homicide, but they have never been able to find her body.

At the time of her disappearance, Sexton was described as having brown hair, grey eyes, standing 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing around 105 pounds. She also went by the name Christine Sexton-Stuart.

Turlock Police Chief Gary R. Hampton, Assemblymembers Cathleen Galgiani, Tom Berryhill and Bill Berryhill and Senators Jeff Denham and Dave Cogdill requested the increase to the existing $10,000 reward to $50,000.

Under the Governor's Reward program, 294 rewards have been offered since 1967, and 22 have been paid. The reward process is initiated when the governor receives a written request from the chief of the law enforcement agency with investigatory jurisdiction over the matter. This request informs the governor that those responsible for the investigation have pursued all leads and believe, in their judgment, that a reward will help them in their efforts. The crime has to be one for which a reward may be offered under California law and the victims' families support the reward. The governor's legal affairs unit processes the request and ensures statutory compliance. The governor makes the final determination regarding the request.
The first reward in the Sexton case was initiated in 1998 by then Gov. Pete Wilson.

Rewards do not expire and are only paid if the information leads to the arrest and conviction in a California court of the individual or individuals charged with the crime.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Christine Sexton is encouraged to call the sheriff’s department at 525-7076.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.