Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Police have arrested a man who they say killed his wife with an ax and left her body in the Gila National Forest.
Erica Zamora, 39, of Silver City had been reported missing on Oct. 1 after her family said they hadn’t heard from her for several days.
Her family said the last time they had talked to her was the previous Sunday when she told them she was driving with her husband, Armando Zamora, to go chop firewood near Mimbres, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Grant County District Court.
Erica had grown up in Silver City, the second oldest of four siblings, said her younger sister Adriana Escobar.
“She was kind of like a mom, not only to me but for a lot of friends growing up,” Escobar said. “She was like the mom to a lot of us. She would watch out for all of us and take care of us.”
She and her brother added that their older sister was “good with people, very empathetic and compassionate.”
Erica and Armando, 35, had been married since 2011 and he filed for divorce in June, according to a petition for dissolution of marriage.
According to the affidavit, police narrowed in on Armando as a suspect because while he initially said he had dropped Erica off at her house a couple of days after they chopped firewood, he was wearing a GPS monitor that proved otherwise.
In 2019, Armando had pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact with a child under 13 and was sentenced to six years in prison with all but one year suspended, according to court documents. He was put on supervised probation in December 2020.
Investigators say they reviewed the data from the GPS monitor and found that Armando was in the area near Mimbres and returned to Silver City that afternoon. Erica was not seen again.
“Agents obtained video surveillance from several businesses that Armando Zamora stopped at once he arrived back in Silver City and could not confirm that Erica Zamora was with him,” a detective wrote in the affidavit. “Agents discovered based on the ankle GPS data that Armando Zamora never went to Erica Zamora’s house on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, to drop her off as he had stated.”
On Oct. 3, investigators used the GPS data to find the area where the Zamoras had been chopping wood, off North Star road. That’s where they found Erica’s body.
It appeared she had injuries “consistent with a physical altercation.”
When investigators talked with Armando again he said he and Erica had been arguing off and on and continued to argue while they drove into the forest.
“Armando told agents once they arrived at the wood cutting site, he began to load wood into his pickup truck,” the detective wrote. “Armando told agents Erica Zamora had punched him and he took his axe and killed her.”
The ax was later found in his house, according to the affidavit.
Armando was arrested and is charged with murder. He was booked into the Grant County Detention Center. It’s not clear who his attorney will be.