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Bonnie Gamboa (1955 - 1980)

A photo of Bonnie Gamboa
Bonnie Gamboa
1955 - 1980
Born
November 7, 1955
Arkansas, United States
Death
c. September 25, 1980
Modesto, Stanislaus County, California, United States
Other Names
Bonnie Sue Dixon
Summary
Bonnie Gamboa was born on November 7, 1955 in Arkansas United States, and died at age 24 years old c. September 25, 1980 in Modesto, Stanislaus County, California.
Updated: August 4, 2022
Biography ID: 86398005

Bonnie Gamboa's Biography

Family, friend, or fan this Collaborative Biography is for you to show & tell Bonnie's life so that she is always remembered.
About Bonnie

Introduction

This case is featured on the TV show: Buried in the Backyard. Season 3 episode 1.

Note: the date of death for Bonnie differs slightly, depending on the source. Find A Grave lists it as December 25, 1980. Other sources list the date that her body was found: October 1st. (See Bonnie Gamboa: Obituary)

Bonnie was the youngest of 11 children. She was born in Arkansas but the family moved to Modesto CA in 1961. She married and began working in a nursing home but, according to her father-in-law, Bonnie became disappointed in how the elderly were treated there and went to (seasonal) work at a local nut packing plant before the birth of her baby.

The Gamboas were a close family: Bonnie visited her husband, Richard Alphonse Gamboa, for lunch at work (he was a cabinet maker) whenever she could and they both visited his father, Richard Sr., almost every day. Desperately wanting to expand their family circle, they tried for a baby for almost 3 years. Finally, on September 22, they had the child of their dreams - a baby boy.

After the birth, the local paper (the Modesto Bee) announced the happy event. Shortly after, the Gamboas received a call offering them a free photography session of the infant. A kind and trusting person, Bonnie accepted the offer. The supposed photographer's name was Mary Alice Wry. It turns out that the perpetrator "Mary Alice Wry" had targeted & solicited multiple families with this offer but Bonnie was the only one to accept.

On the day of the photo session, Richard Gamboa called his wife to remind her of an errand. She answered the phone and told him that the photographer was there. However, when he called about 30 minutes later, the phone wasn't answered. He became concerned and went home. Finding no one there, he went to the hospital fearing that the baby had become ill. They weren't at the hospital and he immediately called the police, and an extensive search ensued.

Four days after their disappearance, on September 29th, the police received a tip. Mary Alice Wry (5 foot 1 inch and 125 lbs and a mother of 3), who claimed to have been pregnant but who never looked pregnant, now had a small infant. When the police investigated, they found the baby (who they identified by some family traits) but not Bonnie. Two days later, the decomposed body of Bonnie Gamboa was found in a local peach orchard. The autopsy showed that she had 57 stab wounds. Mary Wry plead "not guilty." According to contemporaneous reports, Mary had a tubal ligation after her 3rd child and was unable to conceive with her new boyfriend. She therefore decided to kidnap an infant. She was convicted of kidnapping and murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. She died in prison sometime around 2016 -2017

According to records, Bonnie's husband Richard killed himself 8 years later. And what happened to baby Gamboa? Read a 2020 update on his life at What Happened to a Baby Kidnapped By His Mother’s Killer?
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Bonnie Gamboa
Most commonly known as
Bonnie Gamboa
Full legal name
Bonnie Sue Dixon
Other names or aliases

Name & aliases

Where did Bonnie Gamboa last live?
Last place lived

Last residence

November 7, 1955
Birthday
Arkansas United States
Birth location

Birth details

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Ethnicity & Family History

What is Bonnie's ethnicity and where did her parents, grandparents & great-grandparents come from?

Nationality & Locations

Born in Arkansas, Bonnie and her family moved to Modesto California in 1961.

Education

Did Bonnie finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did Bonnie attend?

Religion

dd/mm/yyyy
Baptism date
Unknown
Place of worship

Baptism date & location

Was Bonnie a religious woman?

Professions

Bonnie worked in a nursing home, but felt as though the residents of the home were mistreated so worked seasonally at a local nut packing plant in Modesto California.

Personal Life

She was a person who truly valued family & worked hard to grow her immediate family with her husband, Richard Alphonse Gamboa who she married in Carson City, Nevada on June 9 1977.

Military Service

Did Bonnie serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?
c. September 25, 1980
Death date
Murdered, stabbed 57 times
Cause of death
Modesto, Stanislaus County, California United States
Death location

Death details

dd/mm/yyyy
Funeral date
Grave or burial unknown
Burial location

Gravesite & burial

Obituary

The Modesto Bee (Modesto California) 03 Oct 1960 Fri Gamboa - Modesto, Found October 1 1980. Bonnie Sue Dixon Gamboa, beloved wife of Richard A Gamboa of Modesto, mother of Richard Anthony Gamboa of Modesto, daughter of Robert W. Dixon of Los Banos, sister of Charles Dixon, Barbara Allen, and Larry Dixon of Modesto, Jessie Dixon, L.D. Dixon and Eddie Dixon of Manteca, Rosa Lee Kubala of Los Banos, Louise Sheets and Lorine Evans of Arkansas. A native of Arkansas, aged 24 years. Services will be conducted Saturday 9:00 A.M. at Franklin & Downs - McHenry Chapel, McHenry & Palm Committal, Lakewood Memorial Park. No visitation at the chapel.

Average Age & Life Expectancy

Bonnie Gamboa lived 43 years shorter than the average Gamboa family member when she died at the age of 24.
The average age of a Gamboa family member is 67.
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Memories: Stories & Photos

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Bonnie Sue Dixon Gamboa
A photo of murder victim Bonnie Gamboa added to Find A Grave by "MTC" on February 28, 2022
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What Happened to a Baby Kidnapped By His Mother’s Killer?
Q News Hub by Shreya Bhatt - September 4 2020 (excerpt)

Baby Gamboa Is A Father and About to Be Married

"Richard Gamboa Jr. is the proud father to a boy and a girl. He is divorced from his first wife, but he is about to remarry. According to the wedding website, on September 19, 2020, Gamboa is marrying his longtime friend Christina Moreno.

Their wedding story reads, “I met Richard 2001 at Denny’s, I was the hostess and he was a busser. He was mad that I had taken his hostess position. So he was quite the brat, he used to give me a hard time and would spray me down with the dish hose. We built a great friendship. Started hanging out then decided to stay friends. We came back together as friends in 2012, we were there for each other through some really hard times. Then life took us in different directions again. In 2017, I was sitting on my front porch as he drove by and saw me … We went out that night and have been together ever since. Third time really is a charm. We are inseparable, we love to be with each other he is my best friend, lover, and companion. We really are blessed to have each other.”

The article goes on to say:

Gamboa Was Raised by His Aunt and Uncle

"It is remarkable that Gamboa has found such happiness considering the tragedies that befell him at such a young age. When he was just an infant, Mary Alice Wry murdered his mother Bonnie, and kidnapped him. The family had no idea what had happened to Bonnie or the baby for over a week, until eventually Wry was found with the baby and Bonnie’s body later turned up in an orchard outside Modesto, California.

“I was told when I came home my dad was overwhelmed with emotion, full of joy and pain at the same time because one of us came home and the other didn’t,” said Gamboa in the Buried in the Backyard premiere, adding, “My dad was broken …. it was like a piece of him died with [my mother].”

Gamboa went on to say that eight years after his mother’s death, his father, Richard Sr., “lost his own battle with addiction.”

“I really got angry, I lashed out at the world, but eventually, I moved in with my aunt and uncle. They treat me like one of their kids,” he said, adding, “Once I got married and had kids, all that anger and pain went away.”
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Richard Gamboa, kidnapped infant
A 1980 newspaper photo of baby Richard Gamboa, son of Bonnie and Richard, who was kidnapped.
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Bonnie Gamboa
A photo from the San Francisco Examiner of murder victim Bonnie Gamboa.
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Family Tree & Friends

Bonnie's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Gamboa family tree.

Bonnie's Family Tree

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Bonnie Gamboa Bonnie Gamboa
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Partner
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Sibling

Friends

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1955 - 1980 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Bonnie's lifetime.

In 1955, in the year that Bonnie Gamboa was born, on September 30th, movie star James Dean, 24, died in a car accident. He was headed in his new Porsche 550 to a race in Salinas California when, traveling at 85 mph, he collided with a 1950 Ford Tudor, also speeding, driven by a 23 year old college student. Dean died, his passenger and the other driver survived.

In 1965, by the time she was just 10 years old, from August 11 to 16, riots broke out in Watts, a Black section of Los Angeles. An allegedly drunk African-American driver was stopped by LA police and, after a fight, police brutality was alleged - and the riots began. 34 people died in the rioting and over $40 million in property damage occurred. The National Guard was called in to help the LA police quell rioting.

In 1966, when she was just 11 years old, on September 8th, the first Star Trek episode, "The Man Trap," was broadcast on NBC. The plot concerned a creature that sucked salt from human bodies. The original series only aired for 3 seasons due to low ratings.

In 1975, Bonnie was 20 years old when in January, Popular Mechanics featured the Altair 8800 on it's cover. The Altair home computer kit allowed consumers to build and program their own personal computers. Thousands were sold in the first month.

In 1980, in the year of Bonnie Gamboa's passing, on December 8th, ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his home - the Dakota - in New York City. Chapman was found guilty of murder and still remains in jail.

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