Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
Three months and three days after a former firefighter was found slain in his garage, police arrested his ex-wife’s husband at a truck stop outside of Holbrook, Ariz.
Terry Lee White, 50, is charged with murder and tampering with evidence in the death of 54-year-old Don Fluitt late last year. He was arrested at the Hopi Travel Plaza off Interstate 40 on Saturday.
Two of Fluitt’s co-workers found him dead in his garage in late December after they went to his Northwest Albuquerque home because his 11-year-old daughter couldn’t reach him on the phone.
Fluitt, a former firefighter with the Bernalillo County Fire Department, and his daughter had returned to Albuquerque on Dec. 28 after visiting his mother for Christmas. He dropped his daughter off with her mother at a nearby Dion’s restaurant and then returned home alone.
The next day, he was found dead.
After months of mulling over every possible suspect in his brother’s killing, Dennis Fluitt said the family is happy to have some answers.
“I still can’t believe it,” Dennis said. “Here’s a man living in the same house with my niece, consoling her during this time and he’s the one that did it. How deplorable and reprehensible is that?”
Dennis said after talking with Don’s ex-wife – White’s current wife – it’s clear she is shocked and horrified that her husband could have done something like this. She did not respond to a request for an interview.
“Until Friday, she didn’t know it was her husband,” Dennis said. “She didn’t have a clue, and police don’t have any reason to believe she had anything to do with it.”
Police haven’t said exactly what happened or why White allegedly killed Don. Dennis said although he has not met him, he has heard White disliked Don and was jealous.
According to an arrest warrant filed in Metropolitan Court, detectives found Don had an ongoing custody dispute with his ex-wife, whom he had divorced in 2009. They had a court hearing scheduled for early January to discuss changes in child support payments.
Detectives got a big clue in the case by watching surveillance footage provided by Don’s neighbor. On the video, detectives say they could see a figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt outside Don’s home during the brief window of time when he was dropping off his daughter with her mother.
Then, when Don returned shortly before 8 p.m., the suspect was able to follow him into his garage, according to the affidavit.
Although White initially provided an alibi, detectives said they found discrepancies that led them to file a search warrant to test his DNA. A crime lab analysis found what is likely White’s DNA underneath Don’s fingernails, although he had told detectives he had not seen him in at least a month, according to the affidavit.
Dennis said he plans to attend every court hearing after White is extradited to Albuquerque. White has no criminal history in New Mexico, according to online court records.
“Nobody wins here,” Dennis said. “We’re happy they caught this person. I didn’t care who it was, all I wanted was for whoever did it to be held in custody and be held responsible for what they’ve done.”