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Suspect sought in theft of diamond from museum

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An arrest warrant has been issued for a 25-year-old Bernalillo man in connection with the theft of an uncut 3-carat diamond that was stolen, and then returned, to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science last week.

According to an arrest warrant issued by Metro Court Judge Ross C. Sanchez, John Murphey tried to sell the diamond to four retailers within hours of the diamond’s disappearance last Wednesday. The diamond, part of a display about volcanoes, disappeared shortly after the museum opened at 9 a.m.

Whoever took the diamond broke a lock on the diamond’s display case. The display case does not have a separate alarm, and no cameras were set up to record activities in that area of the museum, according to museum officials. The diamond has been on loan to the museum from the Harvard Mineralogical Museum for 28 years.

According to a criminal complaint accompanying the arrest warrant, Murphey went to Southwestern Minerals at 7008 Central SE about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, saying he wanted to sell a diamond that had been left to him by his recently deceased grandmother. When the clerk said she wasn’t interested, Murphey left.

Investigators said Murphey also tried to sell the diamond to Beauchamp Jewelers, Albuquerque Pawn and ABQ Gold and Silver before returning to Southwestern Minerals and receiving $400 for the diamond, which, according to court documents, is valued at about $20,000.

Murphey was “positively identified by video surveillance” at the four stores, the affidavit says.

Museum officials were allowed to pick up the diamond Thursday, according to Carrie Moritomo, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, and court documents.

Murphey is facing charges of receiving stolen property. According to Metropolitan Detention Center records, he had not been arrested by late Monday,

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