There are many proverbs along the lines of “you reap what you sow.” As a society, we believe in the idea of seeking justice. However, when a horrific crime remains unsolved, it compounds the pain for the victims’ families and leaves us with questions. Here are four unsolved cases in New Mexico, one historical and three more recent.
1. Las Cruces bowling alley massacre
On the morning of February 10th 1990 a horrendous crime, which is still unsolved, occurred in Las Cruces.
Stephanie Senac (aged 34) arrived at Las Cruces Bowl along with her daughter Melissa Repass (aged 12), and Amy Hauser (aged 13). Senac worked at the bowling alley, while the girls worked in the daycare there.
Two armed men were waiting for them. They ordered the three, along with Ida Holguin (the cook) into a back room. Employee Steven Teran (aged 26) and his two young daughters, Paula and Valerie, were forced into the room a short time later.
The criminals opened the safe and stole $5000. Then they shot all seven victims, lit the office on fire, and left.
Despite her injuries, Repass successfully called 911 and gave a description of the perpetrators.
Only Repass, Senac and Ida Holguin lived through the shooting.
The case remains open.
2. The mysterious case of Arthur Manby
In 1883, an Englishman named Arthur Rochford Manby arrived in New Mexico. He was a controversial and wacky figure. Many viewed the land speculator as a crook - he certainly had few friends.
After all, it’s a strange man who invents his own secret society then uses it as a weapon against anyone who opposes him.
On July 3rd 1929, a headless body was found inside Manby’s home. That’s about the only part of the story that sources agree upon. Some believe Manby staged the scene, leaving a dead (or murdered?) homeless person in his place. He was allegedly sighted in Europe after his “death.”
Others think that Manby was murdered. The suspect list was lengthy and, at the time, no one was motivated to solve the case.
The building next to Manby’s home became the Doc Martin Restaurant, inside the Taos Inn. Paranormal activity has been reported in the restaurant, including the apparition of a man said to look a lot like Manby…
The mystery remains: was the body Manby’s and, if so, who killed him?
3. The disappearance of Tara Leigh Calico
Tara Leigh Calico disappeared after going for a bike ride on the morning of September 20th 1988. She left her home in Belen and was last sighted on Highway 47 in Valencia County.
Her mother reported her missing.
Calico’s cassette tape was found by the side of the road and part of her Walkman was located near the John F. Kennedy campground.
In June of 1989, a photo was discovered in a convenience store parking lot in St. Joe, Florida. It depicted a young woman and a boy, both with duct tape over their mouths. Authorities remain undecided about whether the woman in the picture was Calico.
The case has been featured on shows like “America’s Most Wanted” and “Oprah.” It’s also been the subject of a documentary called “Vanished: The Tara Calico Story,” but she has never been found.
4. The mass grave in West Mesa
On February 2nd 2009, the bodies of 13 women and one unborn child were found in a mass grave on the edge of Albuquerque.
The victims’ bones were uncovered during a construction project. A woman who was walking her dog spotted what appeared to be a human femur on the construction site. She alerted authorities.
It took almost a year to identify all the bodies.
Here are the names of the victims: Jamie Barela, Monica Candelaria, Victoria Chavez, Virginia Cloven, Syllania Edwards, Cinnamon Elks, Doreen Marquez, Julie Nieto, Veronica Romero, Evelyn Salazar, and Michelle Valdez (who was pregnant).
It’s unclear how the women died.
The perpetrator has been dubbed the 118th Street serial killer, because the bodies were buried adjacent to 118th Street SW, in Albuquerque.
What do you think about these mysteries? Will they ever be solved? Is there a New Mexico mystery that continues to haunt you?