January 21st, 1979. Austin, Texas. Super Bowl XIII had just ended and the newlywed Reiding couple were leaving a family member’s home. Robert and Debra were heading home after a fun day. They were looking forward to a long future together and taking some time to build that future in Austin. The two were only in town for a few months to save some money, and get away from the harsh Montana winter. Robert had family who could get him a good job for a few months while Debra found employment at a nearby restaurant. Things seemed to be going well and only getting better.
January 22nd, 1979. Robert was on his way home at approximately 6:00 PM to the couples apartment off of Algarita Ave. What he was greeted with was not love, but horror. Debra would be found brutally strangled in the young couples bed. Her body was still bound and gagged, blankets covering the corpse due to the murders inability to face what they’d done. A pillow placed on top of her head. She had been sexually assaulted as well. Debra was just 18-years-old and had only been married a few short months. Robert left the home immediately to alert authorities of the terrible events. Law enforcement arrived, started their investigation and collected any evidence that could be obtained from the scene.
Debra had been expected at her job that day but was considered a no-show. No call, no show. Despite the obvious reasons as to why she was unable to show up, this gives a possible timeline as to when she was attacked. Despite being able to narrow down the timeframe, police were unable to zero in on a suspect. There were a number of strong candidates but authorities were unable to gather enough evidence to prove what had happened. One of the suspects being investigated was Michael Anthony Galvan. He was looked at closely. He initially claimed to not know who the victim was despite the two working together at the same restaurant. He had a working relationship with Debra, and the two appeared to be friends. Michael knew where she lived, just a few blocks from the restaurant and it was claimed that Michael would sometimes give Debra a ride home. Just before the murder, Michael would quit his job. Michael maintained he had nothing to do with Debra’s murder and that he had never been inside her home. Despite suspicions however, police were forced to move on. With no new leads surfacing the case quickly drew cold.
Decades went by, and one could assume that the case would remain cold and forgotten had it not been for the determination of Debra’s brother. He maintained contact annually and requested any updates on the case. He refused to let the case be forgotten. Detectives would funnel in and out of the case but her brother was a constant. Galvan remained in the crosshairs and in 2013, again new detectives were assigned the case. They took another stab at cracking the case. The evidence was examined once more and it was discovered that previously untested DNA was present. To either confirm or rule out Galvan, authorities needed to compare his DNA with the evidence collected at the scene. Detectives were able to obtain a toothpick used by the suspect and it was sent off for testing.
Within a few years, a match would be made, a family would have closure and Galvan would be locked up for good. A match was made with the toothpick and DNA found on the robe worn by the victim. Michael Galvan had remained in the Austin neighborhood for almost 40 years, in the same area he once killed a young woman without coming forward. He was reported to be a quiet individual who stuck to himself, reported by neighbors. Michael was 64-years-old at the time of his sentencing and will likely die behind bars.