WAGONER, Okla. — Talina Galloway left home in April, terrified that COVID-19 symptoms she was experiencing meant she would be hospitalized and eventually placed on a respirator, her roommate told Oklahoma authorities last spring.
Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliot announced Friday that everything Kore Bommeli told investigators was false. The dismembered remains of Galloway, 53, were found in a freezer stashed in the Arkansas woods earlier this month.
Bommeli, who had relocated to Dane County, Wisconsin, has been charged with first-degree murder and desecration of a human corpse. She remained in the Dane County Jail on Tuesday, awaiting extradition to Oklahoma to face the charges.
Wagoner County District Attorney Jack Thorp said during a news conference Friday that the crime was one of the worst he’s experienced.
“Talina Galloway died a brutal death, where her killer had no regard for her life in any way,” Thorp said. “While all murders are abhorrent and detestable, the grisly manner in which Galloway was dismembered and disposed of makes this case one of the worst I have seen in my career.”
Elliot praised the investigators in the case, who he said worked to ensure that Galloway “did not die in vain.”
“Virtually every member of our investigative division worked around the clock, traveling to multiple jurisdictions across multiple states, during a global pandemic, navigating difficult investigative barriers, to solve this terrible crime,” Elliot said.
The sheriff said investigators’ hearts go out to Galloway’s family.
“They are certainly in our prayers,” he said.
Watch Friday’s news conference below.
Galloway’s family told Dateline in May that they were very worried about the missing woman.
“This is not her character,” Galloway’s niece, Chantel Jones, told the program. “She would not let us worry like this.”
Bommeli, 59, of Verona, first became the prime suspect in Galloway’s disappearance last summer after detectives “realized that Kore Bommeli knew much more than she was sharing with investigators,” Elliot said.
They also found evidence that Bommeli had lied to detectives, destroyed evidence in the case and stolen personal items and money from her missing roommate. She was charged in June with five counts of obstruction, four counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, two counts of destruction of evidence and a single count each of credit card fraud and larceny from a home.
In August, she was once again arrested after she allegedly took Galloway’s 2007 Dodge Ram to a scrap yard and tried to have it scrapped.
“Witnesses at the scrap yard noted that Kore brought the vehicle to them with a story that the car had belonged to a close relative (not Talina) and that the vehicle was in very poor working condition and wasn’t worth trying to sell locally,” authorities said at the time. “Witnesses noted that the vehicle appeared to run just fine, and that they gave her approximately $200 in scrap value but believed they would have no issue selling the vehicle locally for far more than that.”
Bommeli, who claimed to be the owner of the truck, was charged with felony fraud and felony embezzlement.
Elliot said Friday that Bommeli first reported Galloway missing April 17, at which time she claimed the missing woman had left home after becoming ill with what she suspected was COVID-19. Bommeli said her roommate had been to a doctor’s office, where she was screened for the virus and told to quarantine at home.
“Kore stated Talina left home out of fear of being intubated, and that she left with her driver’s license, $700 cash, a 9 mm firearm, a .45-caliber firearm, her cellular phone, her medications and a bottle of alcohol,” a probable cause affidavit in the case states.
Jones, Galloway’s niece, told Dateline her aunt was last in contact with anyone other than Bommeli on March 27, when she communicated with her boss at Microsoft. Galloway, who was a widow, worked from home.
An April 7 post on Galloway’s Facebook page stated that she believed she had COVID-19 but would not go to a hospital. Her cellphone was turned off that same day, friends said.
The Sheriff’s Office immediately began a missing persons investigation after Bommeli reported Galloway missing, Elliot said. At first, Bommeli was believed to be solely a reporting witness, and she was treated as such.
“Ms. Galloway did not have any immediate family members in the Wagoner County area, so naturally we relied on what we believed was the person who knew her best, Kore Bommeli, as the best source of information of the possible whereabouts of Talina Galloway and the habits of Talina Galloway,” Elliot said.
Bommeli’s behavior soon was seen as suspicious, however. She gave inconsistent statements, and later, detectives discovered that Galloway had never been screened for COVID-19.
Bommeli’s claim that she was in communication with Galloway’s doctor was also false, authorities said.
She soon ceased cooperating with authorities.
“Evidence shows that Kore burned Talina’s brand new bed in the back yard two days prior to reporting Talina missing, then rearranged the furniture in the house to appear that no bed was missing, and to make it appear that Talina slept in the front bedroom of the house when, in reality, she slept in the rear room,” the affidavit states.
Bommeli also lied about owning a white tandem-axle trailer, investigators said.
A witness reported that on June 8, she spotted a pickup truck towing a small, enclosed trailer into a secluded patch of woods adjacent to the Ouachita National Forest, located south of Mena, Arkansas. The witness, finding the activity suspicious, walked into the area and found the truck and trailer.
“The witness documented the tag number on the vehicle and denoted that there was foul odor coming from the trailer, and that there was a foul-smelling thick liquid pooled on the floor of the trailer,” Elliot said Friday.
The witness also called the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to report the suspicious truck and trailer. A deputy was dispatched to the area to investigate, and the witness, assuming that the situation was resolved, did not follow up with deputies.
As detectives continued to investigate Galloway’s disappearance, they learned that Bommeli owned a white trailer. She told the investigators that she’d sold it in March, but witnesses and deputies spotted the trailer after Galloway’s disappearance.
“After being questioned about the trailer, evidence shows Kore actively attempted to hide the trailer at a friend’s house, and then at a storage facility in Edmond, Oklahoma,” the affidavit states.
While the trailer was at the friend’s home, it was plugged into an electrical outlet, detectives wrote.
“From witnesses, investigators determined a white chest freezer was missing from the kitchen of Galloway’s house and was likely inside the white trailer as it was being stored at a friend’s house and while it was connected to electricity,” the court document states.
Bommeli still had the trailer as late as May 28, the court records show. Upon executing search warrants at the storage unit, detectives found Galloway’s cut-up driver’s license.
Investigators learned that Bommeli had sold the trailer to a scrap yard in Muskogee. When they found the trailer, they discovered blood in it.
In a separate storage unit in Muskogee, rented by Bommeli under a fake name, they found a trailer tire, two firearms and several hundred rounds of ammunition.
Back at the women’s home, crime scene technicians used a forensic spray that reacts with blood to make it glow blue, even if the blood appears to have been cleaned away.
“A large area in the garage and in the rear bedroom reacted to the spray,” according to the affidavit.
During the searches, detectives learned that Bommeli had painted the floor of the garage after her roommate was reported missing. In addition, she found that she possessed one of the firearms she’d said Galloway had left with.
Bommeli, who had a prior conviction in Wisconsin for identity theft and fraud, also used Galloway’s credit card to pay $1,500 to her attorney, the document states.
“Kore has also been continuously selling property belonging to Talina on the online auction website eBay, including very personal and sentimental items,” detectives wrote.
Considered a person of interest in the case at that point, Bommeli was arrested in June and charged with the crimes stemming from those alleged activities. After being released on bond, she moved out of state.
The case heated up on Jan. 14, when the same witness who had previously spotted the truck and trailer in the Arkansas woods made a gruesome discovery — a white freezer in the woods, its lid taped shut.
“The witness reported that there was a foul smell in the area of the freezer,” Elliot said. “The witness notified the Polk County Sheriff’s Office of the discovery and the tag number of the vehicle that she had documented the previous year.”
The tag number was registered to Galloway.
Deputies responded to the scene and opened the freezer, which contained human remains. Five days later, the Arkansas state medical examiner tentatively identified the body as belonging to the missing woman.
Thorp obtained an arrest warrant for Bommeli on Thursday. The motive for the killing was not immediately clear.
Nicole Bellenfant Carr, a friend of Galloway’s in Tennessee, told Dateline in May that her friend, who had a tattoo of a sun symbol on her wrist, was radiant.
“My friend Talina is like feeling the sun on both sides of my face,” Carr said about the then-missing woman. “She is warm and radiates positivity, and she is exactly what the world needs right now.”
Cox Media Group