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Entries in New Mexico (32)

Wednesday
Dec282011

Santa Fe Introduces GPS Tracking Instead of Jail Time For Burglars

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- Santa Fe has introduced a new system that tracks convicted burglars through GPS devices rather than putting them in jail. Police began monitoring the first offender last week.

The program will start with just five GPS devices to gauge its effectiveness and collect data.

Santa Fe Police Capt. Aric Wheeler told ABC News the idea for the program originated as an alternative to repetitive incarceration, which is expensive. It also did little to deter burglaries. Wheeler said that police would see an immediate spike in burglaries as soon as criminals got out of jail.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. You have to come up with new and creative ways to deal with them,”  Wheeler said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Couleur told ABC News the program targets individuals facing long sentences, those with a large number of burglary charges, or people who have a juvenile history. Prosecutors and police will work in conjunction with the offenders’ attorneys to evaluate their cases and agree if the individual should be included in the program.

Couleur says within the negotiations, there are multiple issues that must be agreed to by the defendant in order to uphold the constitutionality of the program.

“A person who goes into the program has to specifically consent to it because they waive any issues to unrestricted access to their data by police department,” Couleur said. A clause in the program mandates employment.

“They can contribute to society and they have to go out and get a job. We can reintegrate them into the community,”  Wheeler said. “If they truly want to be rehabilitated and they know ‘Big Brother’ is watching them, I’m hoping they will be more reluctant to commit burglaries again.”

The anklets have two types of monitors, active and passive. Santa Fe police will track them passively, meaning the devices won’t give live GPS data to police computers. However, if there is reason for suspicion, such as multiple burglaries reported in one area, or if a crime fits the monitored burglar’s previous modes of operation, then police can send a request to the 3M, the GPS device company, to get the live locations so they can intervene.

The plan could also be beneficial for many cities and states struggling fiscally, as it could be a way to alleviate the financial toll of incarceration. It could also help the problem of jail overcrowding. These issues were major catalysts in initiating the plan.

Couleur agreed, telling ABC News, “You can’t put everyone in jails. There is no money for new jails and there are no beds in the jails. There have to be alternatives for jails and this is a pretty good one.”

Not everyone thinks this is such a good alternative. Assistant Public Defender Joseph Campbell thinks defendants might not “really understand the full ramifications to what they are agreeing to.”

“If this person picks up new charges through the monitoring program, as a defense attorney I am going to look at whether that initial plea was voluntarily and if they knew it could come back and hurt them,” Campbell said.

However, Wheeler told ABC news he believes this is the “technology of the future,” and thinks even though it is still in its preliminary stages, the program has a lot of potential.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

FBI Search New Mexico Lake for 'Toy Box Killer's' 40 Victims

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M.) -- Authorities searched a New Mexico lake on Tuesday for victims of alleged serial killer David Parker Ray, who once boasted of killing as many as 40 women.

The FBI, New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department scoured through Elephant Butte Lake in Truth or Consequences, N.M., but found none of the victims' bodies.

"Today's search of McRae Canyon near Elephant Butte Lake for possible victims of David Parker Ray yielded no human remains," FBI Spokesman Frank Fisher said Tuesday.  "However, searchers plan to return to the Elephant Butte area at an undetermined date in the near future to further search some areas of interest."

Ray died from a heart attack in prison in 2002 when he was 62 years old.  He was serving a more than 223-year sentence for the sexual torture of two women.  Before his death, he boasted of torturing and killing women in his trailer.  No bodies have ever been recovered.

“David Parker Ray wrote in his journals that he had up to 40 victims.  We suspect that he could have killed some.  We don’t know how many,” said Fisher.

Fisher said they received new information that led them to search the lake, but won’t disclose what that tip is.

Ray is sometimes called the “Toy Box Killer” because of how he used his trailer to torture his victims.

“His trailer is a 22-foot long white trailer that he had behind his residence near Elephant Butte Lake.  He called it a toy box and it was equipped with various instruments of torture,” Fisher said.

Ray equipped the trailer with things like whips, knives, handcuffs and a gynecological exam table.

“He would tie a lady on to it and for a period of days subject her to various tortures while videotaping her,” said Fisher.

Signs in the trailer read “Satan’s Den” and “Bondage Room.”  He reportedly got tired of telling his victims what he was going to do to them, so instead he played an audio recording of his instructions.

Fisher said that Ray’s own writings reveal that he began having fantasies about torturing women as early as 1955.  He was arrested in 1999 after a woman escaped from his trailer.  The woman was wearing only a dog collar and chain.  Ray, his daughter and two others were arrested and charged with sexual torture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

FBI Search New Mexico Lake for ‘Toy Box’ Killer’s 40 Victims

Comstock/Thinkstock(TRUTH OF CONSEQUENCES, N.M.) -- Authorities are searching a New Mexico lake for victims of alleged serial killer David Parker Ray who once boasted of killing as many as 40 women.

The FBI, New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department will search Elephant Butte Lake in Truth of Consequences, N.M., Tuesday for Ray’s victims.

Ray died from a heart attack in prison in 2002 when he was 62 years old. He was serving a sentence of more than 223 years for the sexual torture of two women. Before his death, he boasted of torturing and killing women in his trailer. No bodies have ever been recovered.

“David Parker Ray wrote in his journals that he had up to 40 victims. We suspect that he could have killed some. We don’t know how many,” said FBI Spokesman Frank Fisher.

Fisher said that they received new information that has led them to search the lake, but won’t disclose what that tip is. Ray is sometimes called the “Toy Box Killer” because of how he used his trailer to torture his victims.

“His trailer is a 22-foot-long white trailer that he had behind his residence near Elephant Butte Lake. He called it a toy box and it was equipped with various instruments of torture,” Fisher said.

Ray equipped the trailer with things like whips, knives, handcuffs and a gynecological exam table.

“He would tie a lady on to it and for a period of days subject her to various tortures while videotaping her,” said Fisher.

Signs in the trailer read “Satan’s Den” and “Bondage Room.” He reportedly got tired of telling his victims what he was going to do to them, so instead he played an audio recording of his instructions.

Fisher said that Ray’s own writings reveal that he began having fantasies about torturing women as early as 1955. He was arrested in 1999 after a woman escaped from his trailer. The woman was wearing only a dog collar and chain. Ray, his daughter and two others were arrested and charged with sexual torture.

One of Ray’s victims may be Jill Troia. Troia was 22 when she disappeared in 1995 and was the girlfriend of Ray’s daughter, Glenda Jean Ray. Troia was in the Air Force living in New Mexico when she vanished.

“It’s been 16 years. Every September gets really hard. It’s just overwhelming in your thoughts,” Ann Troia, Jill Troia’s mother, told ABC Affiliate KOAT reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Robbie Romero Case DNA Results: Teen Is Not Missing Boy

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- The teenager claiming to be Robbie Romero is not the missing boy, after all, according to DNA results released Friday.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Terrezas' DNA did not match with Romero, who disappeared in June 2000 at age 7, police said.

Terrezas met with Romero's mother, Evelyn, and his brother Ricky earlier this week, and told to police that he was Robbie.

Evelyn and Ricky Romero remained unsure whether the teen was the little boy who went missing while walking home from a friend's house one summer afternoon.

The police have said that Romero's disappearance is still an open case, though his older brother, Ronnie Romero, was the only person of interest in the case and died in 2008. Investigators classified the disappearance as a missing persons case and a homicide, but a body was never found.

Evelyn Romero told ABC News earlier Friday that she was being cautious about raising her hopes that Robert Terrezas was her missing son.

On Wednesday, police learned that Terrezas was claiming he was Robbie Romero.

Terrezas made the eerie claim to Ricky Romero and told him he goes by Robbie's name, according to ABC affiliate KOAT.

Ricky Romero brought Terrezas to the Romeros' home, where he met with Robbie's mother, Evelyn Romero. She then notified the police.

The police took a swab of saliva from Terrezas for DNA testing on Wednesday night, according to Santa Fe detective Lt. Luis Carlos.

Evelyn Romero said the wait for the DNA test results was trying.

"It is [hard], especially for Robbie's brothers and sisters, who have a lot of anxiety just not knowing," she said.

Yolanda Almendariz, Terrezas' mother, told a local news station that the teen was not Robbie Romero, and was born in Mexico and moved with Almendariz to Utah years ago.

"This is my son, this is my son," said Almendariz, who showed local news station KOB childhood photos of the boy. "Friends call my son Robert Romero because they have the same face."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Robbie Romero: Teen Claims to Be Missing Santa Fe Boy

Robbie Romero was last seen on his way to a friend's home in the Bellemah area of Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 7, 2000. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- A teenager has told police in Santa Fe, N.M., that he is Robbie Romero, a boy who vanished more than 10 years ago at the age of seven.

Police spoke with the 18-year-old Wednesday night following a confidential phone call alerting them that someone was claiming to be Romero, according to detective Lt. Luis Carlos.

The teen told police he was indeed Robbie Romero and agreed to give a swab of his saliva for DNA testing.

Robbie Romero disappeared in June of 2000 as he was walking home from a friend's house. The case was treated as a missing person case and a homicide case, though a body was never found.

Police said that the man they spoke with Wednesday told them certain details that were significant before deciding he didn't want to talk anymore and walking away.

Carlos said that police do have some identification documents that match the man they spoke with, though Carlos would not say if those documents identify him as Robbie Romero.

"I'm going to have to remain stoic on that because I don't want to give the family a sense of hope or not. We can't speculate. We are cops and we have to know the facts first," Carlos said.

ABC News affililate KOAT reports that the man told police had been living in a neighboring state but had been in Santa Fe for years. He has not been questioned about who took him, according to the report.

Police contacted the mother of the missing boy, Evelyn Romero, and told her of the events. Carlos said she was reserved and did not want to get her hopes up at the news. Police have also heard reports that the man has met with Evelyn Romero, who was unsure whether or not it was her son.

Police are monitoring the current whereabouts of the man in case the DNA test comes back positive, in which case they will consider the case closed. The DNA testing was sent to multiple labs in Santa Fe to expedite the typically month-long testing process, police said.

Romero's older brother, Ronnie, was long held as a person of interest in the case, though he was never charged. He died of a heroin overdose in prison on unrelated charges in 2009.

In addition to Ronnie Romero's death, Robbie's father Rudy has also died since Robbie disappeared. Evelyn Romero has publicly criticized the Santa Fe police department for their mishandling of the case and their accusations of Ronnie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep092011

Electrical Worker Blamed for Black Out in SoCal, Arizona, Mexico

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- A single worker's error led to a massive power outage on Thursday that swept across Arizona, Southern California and Mexico, leaving millions of people in the dark and bringing major West Coast cities to a standstill, according to a local power company.

The North Gila-Hassayampa 500 kV transmission line near Yuma, Arizona was tripped offline when a single APS employee was carrying out a procedure in the North Gila substation, according to Arizona Power Service.

Typically, in such an instance, the outage would be isolated to the Yuma area.  The investigation is now focusing on the reason that did not occur in this case, APS said Thursday.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. president and CEO Michael Niggli earlier said that 1.4 million affected customers could be without power through the night and into Friday.

A multi-stage restoration plan was started to get power back to everyone, according to the San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

The outage, which started at 4 p.m. PST, appeared to stretch west from Yuma to San Diego, as far north as San Clemente, California, and as far south as the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

The loss of power led to a shutdown of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.  Officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency said it appeared to have shut down automatically at 3:38 p.m. because of the change in the power grid -- as it is designed to do, kind of like a circuit breaker.  

Grocery stores across San Diego that have back-up generators were filled with people grabbing non-perishable food, water and ice.  Most of the gas stations are closed, as people are being advised to use as little gas and water as possible.  There were people stranded whose gas has run out, and all landline phones aren't working.

Some hospitals that usually provide urgent care were closed, while some were under emergency lock down -- frustrating and frightening many.

Non-functioning traffic lights have caused delays everywhere, making it difficult for ambulances to get to where they needed to go.  And all flights out of San Diego International Airport have been suspended.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug252011

Cousins Blamed for Massive Arizona Wildfire

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- A Gummi Bear wrapper may have touched off the largest wildfire in Arizona's history.

The blaze, which began in late May, scorched 538,000 acres in Arizona and a portion of western New Mexico.  All told, 32 residential structures were destroyed along with 36 outbuildings.  It cost an estimated $79 million to extinguish the fire.

According to authorities, cousins Caleb Joshua Malboeuf and David Wayne Malboeuf, both of Arizona, are charged in connection with the wildfire.  The two men said they were camping at the Apache National Forest and had taken all precautions to douse their campfire.  However, David Malboeuf said that before leaving he'd tossed an empty Gummi Bear wrapper on the fire and thought it was okay to leave for a hike because it didn't melt.

As they returned, they noticed a forest fire had developed and was too intense for them to retrieve their two dogs and camping gear.

The cousins, who will appear in court next month, are charged with five counts including leaving a fire unattended and unextinguished and leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it.  If convicted, they each face a maximum of six months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

New Mexico Father and Stepmother Charged in Suicidal Son's Death

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) -- A New Mexico father and stepmother have been charged in the death of their suicidal and drug-addicted 15-year-old son, who lost consciousness after a night of drinking with them and then died 10 days later, according to police.

Joe Torres Sr., 39, and Heather Soto, 31, both have been charged with intentional child abuse resulting in death and negligent child abuse resulting in death.

"Since the boy had suicidal tendencies and previous rehab stints for alcohol and drug abuse, the fact that his father and stepmother allowed him to consume alcohol is kind of like feeding gas to a fire," said Dan Trujillo, a spokesman for the Las Cruces Police Department.

Though Torres Sr. and Soto were under arrest, an official with the Las Cruces Magistrate Court said she did not know if they had yet retained lawyers.

According to a police timeline of events, the family was at a relative's house on the night of July 3 and returned home at around 2 a.m. on July 4. Around 6:30 a.m., a relative called police to Torres' home in Las Cruces, where Joe Torres Jr., 15, was unconscious police said. Police believe members of the family may have spent up to a half-hour trying to resuscitate the teen before calling 911.

The boy was rushed to a local hospital before being moved to the University Medical Center of El Paso.

Detectives discovered that Torres Sr. had allowed his son to drink beer and Soto had given him a wine and brandy concoction, according to the Las Cruces Police Department.

Hospital examinations determined that Torres Jr. had a blood alcohol level of 0.115 and opiates in his system, according to police.

Aside from it being illegal for a 15-year-old to consume alcohol, the blood alcohol level at which it is illegal for an adult to drive a car in New Mexico is 0.08.

Torres Jr. died on July 14 after being removed from life support. He was in critical condition and unconscious for the 10 days he was in the hospital. Medical professionals told detectives that not knowing exactly what Joe Jr. had ingested hindered their ability to treat him.

After their Wednesday arrest, Torres Sr. and Soto are each being held on $50,000 bond and could face up to 18 years in jail.

Torres Sr. was arrested in El Paso, Texas, which is 45 miles from Las Cruces, and is expected to be extradited to New Mexico. Soto was arrested in Las Cruces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Caught on Tape: New Mexico Judge Charged with Raping Prostitute

Pixland/Comstock/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- A long-serving New Mexico criminal court judge has been arrested on charges that he raped a prostitute who videotaped the encounter and sold it to undercover Albuquerque detectives.

Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch was arrested on Tuesday on charges of criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. Murdoch presides over the criminal division for the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court and is a well-known and respected judge who has been serving for 26 years.

If convicted, Murdoch could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

One of his most high-profile cases was the 2010 Desert Divas case, regarding a prostitution ring. He ultimately suppressed the prostitution ring's client list.

Murdoch has also made rulings in numerous prostitution and rape cases, and Albuquerque Police Department Commander Doug West said there is a "good possibility" that the judge's arrest "has the potential to put all the cases in jeopardy."

The alleged victim in the charges against Murdoch is an Albuquerque woman who said Murdoch contacted her after seeing her advertisement for sexual services online. She said she met with him and he took her to his home where she was paid $200 for sexual favors, according to court documents.

The woman told detectives that she went to Murdoch's home eight times and that he forcibly performed oral sex on her, despite her objections to oral sex. After he did this a first time, she said, she hid a video camera in his room and recorded him forcibly doing this to her again amid her protests.

The police report said "her statement was supported by the video" and that her protests were audible on the tape.

West said the case cannot be tried in front of the district attorney in Bernalillo County because so many of the community members are the judge's friends and clients. The Supreme Court will have to decide in which county or district the case can be heard.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Los Alamos Fire: First Air Samples Show No Elevated Radiation

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LOS ALAMOS, N.M.) -- The wildfire that surrounds the nuclear lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico, has grown to at least 61,000 acres amid mounting concerns about what might be in the smoke that's visible from space.

Such fear has prompted fire crews to set their own fires along the perimeter of the lab.  So far, the strategy is working.  The first air samples show lots of smoke, but no signs of elevated radiation.

"Those results show that what we see in this fire is exactly what we see in any fire across New Mexico," said Charles McMillan, the lab's director.

Environmental officials aren't taking any chances.  The Environmental Protection Agency is bringing in dozens of air monitors all around the state, along with a special airplane that takes instant radiation samples.  So far, officials have not been able to find anything amiss.

"Our facilities and nuclear material are protected and safe," McMillan told ABC News.

Some observers are worried not just about the barrels of nuclear waste stored at the lab, but also what's in the canyons that surround the sprawling complex.  Nuclear tests were performed in the canyons dating back to the 1940s.

"The trees have grown up during that time frame and the soil could be contaminated," said Rita Bates of the New Mexico Environment Department.  "If it gets heated and that stuff goes airborne, then we are concerned about that."

The canyons were a dumping ground for radioactive materials decades ago, but are now open to the public and are considered safe.

Still, one graduate student armed with a Geiger counter took to YouTube to show there was no shortage of metal or radioactivity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio