Police investigating death

By Kevin Wilson and Darrell Todd Maurina

Portales police on Friday discovered a body buried in the back yard of a north Portales home. The body was discovered about 3 p.m. while police executed a search warrant.
Two people found at the 717 N. Ave. J residence were arrested on unrelated misdemeanor warrants and were in jail on Saturday night, Roosevelt County Detention Center officials said.
No one has been charged in connection with the death.
Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department would not say if the death was a homicide, which would be the city’s first since 1998. Police also declined to identify the victim, specify the cause of death, or release the victim’s age or gender.
Berry said an autopsy set for Monday morning would provide the department with more information.
“We know this is a suspicious-in-nature death,” Berry said. “The autopsy’s going to tell us a method of death.”
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter said Saturday evening an anthropologist from the state Office of the Medical Investigator is still working to identify the body and determine if the body is that of a missing person reported to police in late April. Carter said the search warrant was issued based on tips to police.
“The police department had received some information that the victim may have been at that residence within the last couple of weeks,” Carter said. “Somebody had noticed something in the back yard that was unusual.”
“We have two suspects, but no one has been charged with a homicide at this time,” Carter said.
Berry said a search of the house led officers to believe there was a struggle, and blood patterns were found inside. Officers found fresh dirt and what appeared to be a partially buried body during a search of the premises, he said.
Roosevelt County Detention Center officials said one man found at the residence is being held without bond on a probation violation. The other is being held on a $20,800 cash-only bond on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
Carter said police needed to withhold detailed information until all witnesses have been interviewed.
“We want to make sure what the witnesses are telling us comes from what they saw firsthand, not what they read in the newspaper or saw on TV,” Carter said.
New Mexico State Police and officials with the district attorney’s office were assisting with the investigation on Saturday. Berry said a medical examiner was on the scene Saturday morning, and officers have spent most of the weekend searching the scene and talking to neighbors and acquaintances.
“The biggest issue is we’ve spent quite some time processing the scene,” said Berry.
Berry said the medical examiner would determine if the death was by homicide.
“We’re obviously proud of the fact we’ve gone several years without a homicide,” Berry said, “but we want to make sure we do everything right to make sure that every stone is checked.”