ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Navy veteran Dave Archibeque heard screaming coming from the small Northeast Heights apartment above him, he stepped outside to see what was going on.
As he looked to the lit sliding door upstairs in apartment A19, he saw a woman’s bloody face slammed into the glass by an attacker, later identified by police as 32-year-old Eric Coleman. Soon after, officers would be knocking on his door, looking for more details as they investigated a machete attack and stabbing that left his 26-year-old neighbor, identified by police as April Briceno, dead in her bedroom on Saturday night.
“He was beating the (expletive) out of her. She was already pretty much a bloody mess by the time I saw her, it was just so bad, it really bothered me to the point where I had to go do something,” Archibeque said. “She was screaming for her life.”
Coleman was arrested Monday after witnesses, including Archibeque, saw him leaving late that night. He had returned to the apartment complex’s leasing office Monday for a key to get his cellphone and wallet, according to the criminal complaint, which is when he was taken into custody. Letters between Coleman and Briceno were found in the apartment, along with a bloodied machete.
According to the complaint, he admitted to stabbing Briceno “repeatedly” with a knife he had bought her for self-defense, and an autopsy found there were “chop” wounds consistent with an axe or machete. She had been stabbed in the skull, chest and arms.
He told police the pair were doing dishes when they started arguing about “heaven and hell,” and he said he was on methamphetamine and blacked out, according to the complaint. But he later admitted to the stabbing, the complaint states.
“I lost it, if I can’t have her then I will take my consequences,” Coleman told police, according to the complaint.
He left without knowing whether she was dead or alive and said he felt no remorse, according to the complaint. He had just been released from the Santa Fe County jail last week, the complaint states.
Archibeque said he heard a man yelling obscenities at the woman, before thuds and more yelling. He called police twice and thought about going upstairs to intervene, but didn’t know how many people were involved in the confrontation.