ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A couple accused of killing an acquaintance and leaving him face down in a South Valley drainage ditch last week had reportedly planned to flee to Mexico.
Instead, they were arrested in Belen on Thursday.
Tommy Rodriguez, 39, and Rose Montano, 41, were booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center and are charged with murder, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and other charges in the death of 54-year-old Mark Pena.
Around 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25, deputies called to the area near the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge found Pena dead in the Barr Interior Drain. It appeared he had been dragged there, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.
A break in the case came a couple of days later when Albuquerque police found Pena’s car abandoned in a neighborhood near Broadway south of Avenida Cesar Chavez. It still had traces of blood in it, although it appeared to have been scrubbed and cleared of all belongings. However, deputies did find a receipt for Walmart purchases in the car.
When they reviewed the footage from Walmart they saw a woman, later identified as Montano, making the purchase, according to the complaint.
Deputies tracked down Pena’s friend who told them that two days before he was killed the two of them went to a house on Gibson SE to do drugs.
She said a man with a mustache tattooed on his upper lip, later identified as Rodriguez, kept asking Pena “to provide his ‘girl’ (Montano) with drugs, saying it was for her birthday.”
It’s unclear exactly what deputies believe caused Montano and Rodriguez to kill Pena, but Rodriguez told Montano’s cousin “he murdered the man because he had threatened to rape a friend,” according to the complaint. It’s unclear whether deputies found this friend or if the threat was substantiated.
Deputy Felicia Maggard, a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, did not answer questions about the motive.
Montano’s aunt said the couple showed her an article about Pena’s death in the Journal and told her “that’s why the cops are going to be looking for us,” according to the complaint.
Montano’s cousin told deputies she had helped Montano ditch the car and Montano and Rodriguez had been staying with her in Belen for the past three days. She said her cousin told her “she and Tommy were fleeing to Mexico because they were wanted.”
The District Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to keep both Montano and Rodriguez in jail until their trials. That motion will be heard by a judge.