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Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Marilyn Velasquez and her family spent Christmas Eve at her sister’s house, playing games and celebrating long into the night.
So when the family didn’t answer calls Christmas morning, family members grew concerned and went to check on them at their Rio Rancho home.
Inside, they found the bodies of Marilyn, 45, her husband, Carlos Velasquez, 50, and their two sons, Roberto, 22, and Adrian, 14.
All four had been shot; the two sons were still in their beds. A gun was found beneath the body of Carlos Velasquez – who had recently retired from the Army.
Capt. Andrew Rodriguez, a Rio Rancho Police spokesman, said detectives believe it’s a case of murder-suicide. According to court records, Carlos Velasquez suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the couple was in the midst of getting a divorce.
Police note in an affidavit that a bed was made up on the couch “as if someone was sleeping there for the night.”
Family members describe Marilyn as a “beautiful person” and hard worker who loved Puerto Rican music and watching the Dallas Cowboys play. Adrian was a Cleveland High School student and avid soccer player. Roberto, who graduated from the University of New Mexico in May, was studying electrical engineering at Stanford University and hoped to work for NASA someday. He was in town during winter break for the holidays.
“This is a tragic event for the family and for the people in our communities,” Rodriguez said in an emailed news release. “Our officers and detectives understand the impact this incident has on our entire city.”
Police are not releasing any other details of the investigation.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed Thursday in 13th Judicial District Court:
Officers were called around 4:15 p.m. to the home in the 3400 block of Martin Meadows NE.
Relatives had called 911 after finding the sons dead in their bedrooms, according to the affidavit. Both had been slain in their beds, and Roberto Velasquez, the elder son, had been shot several times.
When officers arrived, they discovered Marilyn Velasquez dead with her back against the wall. She was at the foot of her teenage son’s bed. Carlos Velasquez was found facedown, draped across his wife’s legs.
A black handgun was found under Carlos Velasquez’s body, and shell casings littered the floor.
Those who made the initial discovery, Marilyn Velasquez’s brother and her sister’s boyfriend, told police the whole family spent Christmas Eve playing games at the home of Marilyn Velasquez’s sister.
The Velasquez family left around 1:30 a.m., and Marilyn Velasquez’s brother and mother were supposed to spend Christmas with the family, but nobody answered the phone. That’s when the two men went to the house and found the bodies.
“Through additional interviews, it was learned that Carlos suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he and Marilyn were in the process of obtaining a divorce,” the police affidavit says.
As night fell Wednesday, the twinkling lights and decorations in the middle-class neighborhood were overshadowed by the red and blue lights of Rio Rancho police vehicles. Crime scene tape wound around the block as officers stood outside talking in the chilly night air.
By Thursday afternoon, the police vehicles had mostly left, making way for co-workers and friends of the family to arrive and pay their respects. Soon, relatives gathered inside the Velasquez home, where deflated Christmas decorations lay in heaps out front.
Family members and friends mourned the loss over social media.
“My sister was an amazing person and loved her boys with all her soul,” one man wrote in a post. “May God grant us the understanding to deal with this. … Fly high my angels give hugs and kisses to papa and mama in heaven.”
Another man shared a link to a news story on the shooting.
“Can I wake up from this nightmare already. … Please pray for our family,” he wrote.
By 6 p.m. Thursday, a GoFundMe set up for the “funeral expenses of 3 family members” had raised nearly $8,000 beneath a picture of Marilyn Velasquez and her two sons.
“We recently lost an amazing family over Christmas,” the GoFundMe page said. “It was unexpected and is leaving the family utterly destroyed as they’re having to pick up the pieces and try to understand this tragedy.”
Neighbors said they are still trying to comprehend it.
“It is a very, very quiet neighborhood,” nearby neighbor Missy Creel told the Journal. “The last time we even saw an ambulance on our street was when a guy … died from old age two houses down.”
Creel said that she had never met the family but that she would often see Carlos Velasquez leaving the home in an Army uniform. She said they had lived there for over a decade.
“They seem like a nice family. Real quiet,” she said. “I remember when we first moved in here, the wife used to walk the one little boy down to the school bus stop. The boy was young then, but that was 10 years ago.”
Journal staff writer Rick Nathanson contributed to this report.