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Death of APD Officer's Wife Investigated

By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
    An Albuquerque police officer was placed on leave Tuesday as police in Valencia County continue their investigation into his wife's death.
    Officer Levi Chavez's wife, Tera, was found dead Oct. 22 inside the couple's home on Ash Place in rural Los Lunas from a gunshot wound. Valencia County sheriff's deputies initially thought it was a suicide.
    But on Tuesday, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said he was informed that the investigation "has gone into a different direction" and placed Chavez on paid leave.
    Valencia County Sheriff's Lt. James Purdy said the investigation is still pointing to the death as a suicide, but "we are expanding our investigation and looking into other avenues based on information we have received," he said. "It may still turn out to completely be a suicide."
    "We are broadening our investigation to prove or disprove suicide or any other criminal act."
    Chavez is not a suspect, a sheriff's spokesman said.
    According to sheriff's deputies, in the early morning hours of Oct. 22, Levi Chavez called 911 from a separate location and reported "there was a problem" at his house.
    When deputies arrived, officer Chavez met them there, and they found Tera Chavez, 26, dead from a gunshot wound. Nearby was her husband's police-issued 9 mm Glock handgun.
    Deputies also found a "minute portion" of marijuana on her, said Deputy Ed Chavez, spokesman for the Valencia County sheriff's Department.
    "Initially it appeared to be a suicide because the weapon was there and in close proximity to the body," Ed Chavez said. "Our department, in conjunction with the Office of the Medical Investigator, decided the (cause of) death is now undetermined."
    "It means our investigators are going to go back to the drawing board again and revisit all of the information they have collected."
    Schultz said Levi Chavez, 26, transferred to the Albuquerque Police Department in January from the aviation police.