Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
Before he took their children to school Tuesday morning, Carlos Baca Jr. kissed his wife, Frankie, goodbye and asked her to pick him up for lunch at a Northeast Albuquerque house where he would be with his older brother.
Carlos told her he loved her and would see her soon, Frankie said in an interview with the Journal on Wednesday.
Instead, she found him and his brother, Joe Baca, bound in handcuffs, dead.
Frankie said that when she arrived at the house in the 3400 block of Morningside NE, near Comanche, on Tuesday afternoon, she couldn’t reach either brother so she called Joe’s girlfriend for help.
The two women kicked in the door to find a horrible scene.
“Someone murdered my husband and murdered my brother-in-law,” Frankie said. “Nobody should ever have to see their husband like that, the father of their children.”
Police haven’t said how 29-year-old Carlos and 31-year-old Joe died, but their deaths are being investigated as a double homicide.
Tanner Tixier, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, said the homicides did not appear to be random, but he declined to discuss any possible motive.
He said a third man, who Frankie said is her cousin, has been reported missing and endangered in connection with their deaths.
Family members, loved ones and friends gathered across the street throughout the night, crying and talking to detectives.
On Wednesday, officials could be seen boarding up the single-story stucco home in a quiet neighborhood. A spokeswoman from the city planning department said “the property was posted as substandard due to biohazard fluids and electrical concerns.”
Frankie said she did not know what the brothers were doing at the house and had only ever been there once before. She said it was empty except for a futon mattress on the floor the day she found them.
On Joe’s Facebook page, he had posted photos of multiple marijuana plants in a room.
In 2011, he was arrested on charges related to running a grow house after police discovered 12 plants and 20 pounds of marijuana in zipper freezer bags. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana over eight ounces and conspiracy. The charges were later dismissed. He has other drug-related charges on his record, but they were also dismissed.
Neighbors say they rarely saw the two brothers, who they believe began staying at the house in the past year.
They say they’re concerned because police haven’t said much about what happened, but they have been told they’re not in danger.
Janice Borra, a neighbor, said the neighborhood is usually very quiet and she was surprised to hear something so horrible could have happened nearby.
She said she hadn’t seen many people at the house until family members started congregating outside during the investigation Tuesday.
Police identified the missing man as 29-year-old Celestino Lopez. They said his girlfriend told police he had said he was heading home Monday night, but he never arrived.
Frankie said she doesn’t know what might have happened to Lopez or who might have done this to her husband and brother-in-law. She said there weren’t any hints that Carlos was worried someone was after him, but she believes the brothers were the intended targets.
“I believe this was something personal,” she said.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe website to raise money for the brothers’ families.
Frankie said Carlos was a great father to their five children and had recently taught one of their daughters to ride a bike. She said he would shower his nieces and nephews with gifts for their birthdays.
“He was quiet and shy,” she said. “He didn’t open up to people until you got to know him, then he was funny and sarcastic. He prided himself in being the best father he could be.”
She said Joe, who had three children, was always cracking jokes and didn’t ever like to admit he was mistaken. She said the two brothers were very close.
“They were inseparable,” Frankie said. “Joe could do no wrong in Carlos’ eyes.”
Digital editor Robert Browman and staff writer Nicole Perez contributed to this report.