Family of Utah girl killed holds vigil to remember her 15 years later

Posted at 9:41 PM, Nov 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-18 23:41:07-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah family who lost their daughter at the hands of a killer 15 years ago held a candlelight vigil Monday night to keep her memory alive.

Trisha Beristain was gunned down in Big Cottonwood Canyon during a rage of jealousy.

Police know who killed her.

Although featured on America’s Most Wanted, no trace of Jesse Vega has been seen for seven years.

Trisha's family is hanging on to hope that someone out there knows something.

"It never gets easier you just get numb to the pain, it's always there," said Trisha’s older sister Suzette Beristain.

"We still keep her in our hearts and our minds and we will never ever forget her," said Trisha’s father, Fred.

In 1998 the 19-year-old woman was brutally murdered by Vega. Detectives say he drove her up Big Cottonwood Canyon and shot her to death with a .9 mm handgun, execution style.

Vega was last seen in Illinois, but that was many years ago. Police say he has ties to gangs in Chicago, but he could be anywhere now.

"We keep her alive we try to get everybody up here, talk about her," said Trisha’s younger sister Laura Beristain.

Since her death family, friends and even strangers gather near the place of her murder to remember Trisha, all in hopes that the public never forgets her story and her killer's face.

The most painful part, Laura Beristain said, is “that he’s still free and I can’t even give my sister a hug, I miss her every single day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. She was my best friend.”

Fred Beristain said his family needs closure and justice for his daughter.

"That's why we do this every year is for the hope that just like the flame it will never go out, we will never forget her,” Fred Beristain said. “It is very had to know that she's gone and the person that killed her is possibly roaming the streets."

Those with information about this case have been asked to call Unified Police at 801-743-7000.