MODESTO (CBS13) – It happened in one single blast – a young mother from Modesto killed by a mysterious bomb.
It’s a cold case murder that’s now 30 years old.
They are the sounds and images of peace. A young girl practicing her violin. A family circling the tree to open Christmas presents. A brother and sister posing for a moment in time.
But what those images won’t show you is the dark cloud that hangs over the Holloman family since the day their peace was shattered in one sudden blast.
Gary Holloman broke down in tears as if the crime that tore apart his family just occurred. It didn’t.
It’s now been more than 30 years.
And just as CBS13 news reported on that Sunday afternoon Sept. 19, 1982, the crime that rocked a Modesto family remains unsolved.
“We heard the blast and then he started screaming for help,” a witness told the TV reporter that day.
It was too late to help Jenny Holloman, Gary’s wife, a 21-year-old mother of two small children who opened up a mysterious tool box left on her property. She was blown to pieces. The pipe bomb inside created a hole 3 feet deep.
His wife was gone. Gary was inside their small trailer but he wasn’t hurt.
“A piece of shrapnel I noticed come through the wall 6 inches from my head and went through the next wall,” he said.
Their young daughter Robin, not quite 2 at the time, was critically wounded by the explosion:
“And when the paramedics took her away, just before they took her away, she turned blue and closed her eyes,” Gary remembered.
And he can still see this image through his tears, video our cameras captured of a young father bending down to give his daughter perhaps one last kiss.
Robin would survive but would grow up never talking with her dad about what happened. Now, more than 30 years later, she doesn’t talk with her father at all because she believes Gary Holloman is the main suspect in her mother’s murder.
“So when you were implicated, what went through your mind?” CBS13′s Tony Lopez asked Gary.
“I was in shock,” he said.
Robin refused our requests for an interview. Her husband told us the three-decade-old wounds are still too fresh and the lie detector test given to Gary in the days after the murder said it all.
“It wasn’t until after I took the polygraph when they turned on me,” Gary said.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s investigators say Gary Holloman failed the polygraph, but they never had enough evidence to arrest him:
“The problem with this crime is that I can’t prove I didn’t do it by proving I was somewhere else,” he said.
Gary calls the lie detector results “bogus.”
“I had absolutely nothing to do with the bombing,” he said. “I had no reason to want to harm her.”
In fact, Gary believes Jenny was not the intended target. He said she simply got in the way of an ugly domestic battle between his brother Gene and his wife, Harriet, who Gary calls “the real killer.”
Gary’s theory: Harriet planted the bomb to kill her emotionally abusive husband.
The toolbox was found in a field, partially hidden yet brightly colored. It’s Gary’s belief the bomb inside that tool box was set to blow when his brother, who was working in a field, would come in contact with it.”
But Harriet’s alleged plan took a wrong turn when two kids found the tool box and took it to Jenny, who opened it up.
“The next thing i knew was the boom,” Gary said.
Harriet, now 63, didn’t respond to our request for an interview, but a private investigator hired by Gary doesn’t buy the theory that Harriet was behind the fatal blast.
Louis Galindez surprised his client and us with his own theory:
“I don’t believe she had anything to do with it,” he said. “The intended target was him, Gary.”
But why would his brother want him dead? “Well, apparently during that time there was jealousies going on,” Galindez said.
“Gene liked Gary’s wife?” we asked.
“Yeah, he had a thing for her,” Galindez said.
“I disagree with that completely,” Gary said. “All of the stories about that came from Harriet.”
Gene Holloman died several years ago.
Despite their disagreement over who’s behind the bombing, Gary did find an ally in Galindez.
“I just feel sorry for the guy,” he said. “I mean, the guy has been on a quest ever since the bombing.”
The former sheriff’s detective, now a private investigator, was hired by Gary to examine the cold case:
It didn’t take long for him to realize “something is not right here. Something is missing.”
Galindez says pages of the investigation are missing and the failed polygraph, he claims, was incomplete. The P.I. had a message for Stanislaus County detectives:
“I said ‘I wouldn’t consider him a suspect based on what I see here,’” he said.
So Louie says Gary didn’t do it but that Gene did. Gary say Harriet was the mastermind. And Gary’s daughter Robin still points the finger at her dad.
One thing is clear: the peace in this family was shattered long ago by a single explosion that killed a young mother, but left so many wounded souls behind.