Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
Nearly 40 years after Jose Farfan disappeared, his family has filed a civil lawsuit against the city, claiming that two rogue Albuquerque police detectives involved in a burglary ring in the late 1970s also killed Farfan and the city appeared to cover it up.
The suit also says then-officers Robert Earl Davis and Robert Todd Hobson were suspects in two other slayings.
Dino Farfan, Jose Farfan’s son, is alleging wrongful death in the suit filed last month in state District Court, and is seeking compensation for lost wages and other damages.
City spokeswoman Rhiannon Samuel said the city legal department does not yet have a copy of the suit and cannot comment on it. The Farfan family’s attorney, Matthew Garcia, could not be reached for comment.
Jose Farfan was shot to death near an arroyo in the east mountains in April 1976, the suit alleges. A recent cold case investigation “strongly suggested” that evidence linking Davis and Hobson to his killing “was buried.”
Journal reports from 1982 describe the two as being part of a foursome “charged in connection with a seven-state, 2,000-felony crime spree.” Davis went on to escape from a medium security prison in Los Lunas. Two years later, he escaped a maximum security prison in Santa Fe before being transferred to an out-of-state facility.
The Journal could not locate Davis or Hobson for comment.
The lawsuit said that, on April 26, 1976, Farfan was booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of receiving stolen property. But he was released “because the matter required further investigation.”
After Farfan left jail, Davis and Hobson hatched a plan to apprehend him as he traveled home, according to the suit. Hobson would interrogate Farfan and if he “did not provide any information, he and (Davis) intended to murder (Mr. Farfan),” the complaint said.
The duo drove Farfan to a remote spot in the mountains east of Albuquerque, where they forced him to stand beside an arroyo before assaulting him with a pistol, according to the complaint. Davis, in a confession, said he fired a shot at Farfan before Hobson shot the man in the head with a shotgun, the suit said.
“Farfan was decapitated by the blast,” the complaint says. His body was left in the arroyo.
Hobson, on the other hand, allegedly confessed to “a similar set of facts” and said they both fired shots, but that Davis was the one armed with a shotgun.
The suit says Farfan’s family was never told about this evidence, and only learned that he was murdered and about the circumstances surrounding his death in January – nearly 40 years after Farfan was reported missing.
The Journal wrote in March 1982 that investigators said Farfan, 38, had gone missing shortly after being released from police custody in April 1976, then had been shot to death in the Sandia Mountains.
APD cold case investigator Rich Lewis started looking into Farfan’s case in 2008, but he found that “evidence of the crime had gone missing,” according to the complaint.
Three years later, Lewis was contacted by Gene May’s granddaughter, who said that May was murdered in 1979 and she hoped for an update on the investigation into his death.
Lewis tracked down the May case file and learned that Hobson and Davis were once suspects in May’s murder, too.
A decades-old report indicated that, as investigators tried to solve May’s murder in 1981, Hobson confessed to participating in Farfan’s kidnapping and killing, according to the lawsuit.
The police report also suggested that the duo killed Raymond Robert Campos, who is called Robert Ramon Campos in some references, the suit alleges.
“(Campos’s) head was also blown off similar to the Farfan murder,” the suit says. His body was abandoned in a remote locale in the east mountains.
Another similarity between the Farfan and Campos cases – APD records were absent of any information about the killings, the suit held.
In 2008, Lewis spoke with a retired APD deputy chief who, according to the suit, confirmed that the department investigated Farfan’s murder and determined that Davis and Hobson were responsible. Lewis never found the case file. He never found reports documenting Farfan’s arrest or the fact that he’d gone missing, either, the suit alleges.
In 1983, the suit says an assistant district attorney wrote to the Office of the Attorney General documenting “the wealth of evidence showing Davis and Hobson had murdered (Campos).” But Lewis was also unable to find a file at the Attorney General’s Office.
“Neither APD nor anyone from the Office of the Attorney General was able to provide an explanation for the disappearance of the case file pertaining to Mr. Farfan’s murder,” according to the suit.
Five unsolved homicides?
Newspapers reported in the early 1980s that investigators were trying to determine whether the former police officers could have been involved in up to five unsolved homicides, including the Farfan, Campos and May killings.
The Tribune reported in a January 1982 story accompanied by mugshots of Davis, Hobson and two others that APD had reopened homicide cases and that a former officer confessed to shooting a person while on the police force. By March 1982, the Journal reported that charges were unlikely after the investigation “apparently failed to produce enough evidence to get grand jury indictments.”
That story named Davis and John Harper, rather than Hobson, as the “principal suspects.”