Homicides haunting residents

Darrell Todd Maurina

Jackie Davidson couldn’t stop crying as she described her reaction to the shooting of her father, J.C. Tucker.

Tucker was shot to death at his auto salvage and storage room business near Cannon Air Force Base on Sept. 4, and the case hasn’t yet been solved.

The homicide is one of a growing number that have plagued Curry County in the last 16 months, prompting fear and confusion among victim’s families and a number of area residents.

“The police said it was just a horrific scene with all the blood in that shop,” Davidson said. “It’s been a hard thing for me to accept that they never found anybody. I don’t know how to block it out of my mind.”

Davidson said Clovis is nothing like the town she remembers as a child.

“It was such a nice small town when I grew up, but it’s changed so much,” Davidson said. “It has affected the way I think now. I’m kind of paranoid now because my father has been murdered. I don’t trust anybody now.”

Davidson said some of her most difficult memories include watching old home movies of her father in his 20s and noticing how closely her son, now 24, resembles his father at the same age.

“I believe in the power of prayer and I want people to keep praying for justice,” Davidson said. “When my father got murdered, something got murdered inside of me, too.”

Like Davidson, Cristina Madrigal said she’s seen Clovis change for the worse in the six years she’s lived in the city.

“When I was new to Clovis, I thought it was a nice small community. I have watched the decline of the community,” said Madrigal, co-manager of Bath and Body Works in the North Plains Mall. “I never used to lock my door. Now I turn on the TV and it’s Clovis, not Roswell, in the news for crime.”

Madrigal said her most recent experience with crime was watching two teenage girls attack each other in the mall outside her store. Madrigal rushed to intervene but the others broke up the fight before she arrived.

“To see these two little girls who should be cheerleaders fighting like that in public just makes me sick,” Madrigal said.

The Rev. Roy H. Stewart’s understanding of crime in Clovis runs a little closer to home — literally.

Stewart and his wife Nathalie expected Jan. 4 to be like most other Sundays. The retired pastor’s morning routine included raising the American flag outside his home and getting ready for church, but those plans changed when his wife received a shocking call that morning.

“How would you like to wake up in the morning and hear your phone ring, and it’s your daughter telling you there is a car in your driveway, and there is a dead man in it, and your whole neighborhood has crime scene tape around it?” asked Nathalie Stewart. “The words of the call just kept getting worse and worse.”

The dead man was Carlos Murillo, shot at the corner of Concord Street and Marvin Hass Boulevard during a chase through Clovis streets. His car rolled into the Stewarts’ driveway as he was dying in the driver’s seat.

That wasn’t the first time police showed up at the Stewarts’ door.

“We are right across from the theater and they had two robberies, and the first thing you know we had two police officers on our doorstep asking if we’ve seen anything,” Nathalie Stewart said. “I think Clovis is definitely getting worse. We used to live in Truth or Consequences and there was some of this, but nowhere near as bad as this.”

Roy Stewart said he’s still nervous every time he hears a car speeding through the neighborhood.

“My first reaction is I just wonder if we’re going to hear gunshots,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t really bother me but it brings that crime scene back to our mind.”

Clovis resident Mary Jane Finnell had an even closer brush with crime when she fled out a window of her home as her fiance was shot to death.

Police say her fiance, Ricky Gallegos, was killed on Jan. 13 at their home on the corner of Sunrise and Mercury streets by Steve Robert Duran, 34, who faces a number of charges including murder and armed robbery.

“I know he was looking for me too, and if I hadn’t gotten out of the window I’d be dead,” Finnell said. “He took a long time coming out of there and I saw his shadows on the windows as he was hunting for me.”

Finnell, who lived in Las Vegas, Nev., before coming to Clovis 10 years ago, said she wants to leave Clovis as soon as possible after the upcoming trial because the community is steadily getting worse.

“The first thing wrong here is the gangbangers and the drugs,” Finnell said. “I guarantee that if they had a detox, the burglaries would be very, very low,” Finnell said. “You know why I think the crime rate is so high? They’re hooked on heroin, crack and meth. You get a little taste, you’ve got to keep having it, and that’s why they burglarize everybody to get money.”

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Homicide by numbers
Homicide victims in Curry County, except vehicular homicide
1998: 2
1999: 1
2000: 1
2001: 3
2002: 4
2003: 6
2004: 5 (to date)
Vehicular homicide:
2001: 1
2003: 1
Source: 9th Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter