By Kevin Wilson
Five days after Roosevelt County officials discovered two bodies in the trunk of a burned car, law-enforcement officials shot a man they believe was involved in the slayings.
Officials said Jerry Fuller, 32, of Portales, was in critical condition late Tuesday night at Lubbock’s Covenant hospital after police shot him at least once about 8 a.m. Tuesday. Officials were attempting to arrest Fuller on murder charges in connection with last week’s deaths of Odis and Doris Newman of Portales. They said he appeared to have a weapon and was shot after police told him repeatedly to drop it.
Police declined to say late Tuesday if Fuller actually had a weapon.
Family members said Fuller is a nephew to the Newmans, by marriage.
Officials would not speculate on a motive for the Newmans’ slayings.
Three other Portales residents — Cynthia Peninger, 22, Stanley Bedford, 41, and Archie Crawford, 27, were also arrested and charged with possession of stolen property, in connection with the Newmans’ deaths.
District Attorney Matthew Chandler said there is still plenty of work to be done, and said he anticipates more arrests will be made and more charges will be filed on those already in custody.
Chandler said events leading directly to Tuesday’s shooting began mid-afternoon on Monday.
“We received a tip from a pawn shop in Clovis that property of the Newmans was being pawned off,” Chandler said. “The Clovis Police Department responded and came into contact with three individuals. They were questioned at that time and taken into possession, (and) arrested for possession of stolen property.”
Through information acquired from the three suspects and other tips left to the New Mexico State Police and Roosevelt County Crime Stoppers, Chandler said the investigation led to Fuller’s girlfriend. The prosecutor said the girlfriend told investigators that Fuller had substantial information about the Newmans’ deaths and that he was carrying a handgun.
About 1 a.m. Tuesday, police put out a bulletin for a white Mercury Sable registered to Fuller. The car was discovered at 3 a.m. at a residence at 1020 N. Main, officials said.
“At approximately 4 this (Tuesday) morning … a special response team … set up a perimeter around a house where we believed Mr. Fuller was inside, and we still considered him armed and dangerous,” Chandler said.
The perimeter was set up on North Main, between West Ivy Street and West Juniper Street.
Nearly three hours later, at 7:58 a.m., Chandler said Fuller came out of a nearby shed and appeared to have a handgun.
The special response team, made up of Clovis police officers, told Fuller several times to put down his weapon and show his hands. Chandler said Fuller did not comply and was shot once in the torso. Fuller was then given aid, taken into custody and moved to Roosevelt General Hospital.
He was later airlifted to Covenant hospital in Lubbock, where he underwent surgery for the bullet wound.
Lt. Jimmy Glascock of the New Mexico State Police said three officers discharged their weapons during the incident. None of those officers were identified, but Glascock said they were placed on paid leave — a standard procedure when an officer discharges his or her weapon.
Officials for the first time on Tuesday confirmed the Newmans had died. They had been missing since Wednesday.
Officials said their burned car was found about 8 a.m. Thursday southeast of Portales. Two bodies were found in the car’s trunk. As officers investigated the incident, they were led to the Newmans’ home at Roosevelt Road 4 Lane, which was on fire.
Officials said both fires are believed to be arson, intended to destroy evidence.
Law officers said they have been in contact with state medical investigators, but would not comment on information they had received. Officials have not revealed how the Newmans died or whether they were killed in their home.
Crawford, Peninger and Bedford were in the Curry County Adult Detention Center on Tuesday night with $10,000 cash-only bonds. Chandler said no bond has been set for Fuller.
Glascock said state police officers and Texas Rangers will maintain a presence with Fuller in Lubbock until he is transported back to the Roosevelt County Detention Center.