Slaying victim may have known killer

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Laura McNaughton was probably not a random homicide victim, Curry County’s undersheriff said on Tuesday.

Doug Bowman said investigators are talking to “less than 10” people who may have knowledge about the 30-year-old Clovis woman’s slaying. Bowman said he believes McNaughton may have known her killer.

Officials declined again on Tuesday to release the cause of McNaughton’s death, saying it could hamper their investigation. She was found in a ditch about 2:15 p.m. Saturday, two miles south of the Pleasant Hill Fire Department north of Clovis.

“There is no reason for people to panic,” Bowman said. “I don’t think there’s a serial killer on the loose. That’s just a gut feeling I have, (based on) what we’re working with here.”

But Bowman said officials do not know where McNaughton was killed and they have not identified a murder weapon.

He said law officers have not released the cause of death because “right now, only the (killer) knows” how McNaughton died.

Officials have said hunters found the victim’s body.

Two of those hunters talked with the Clovis News Journal on Tuesday, but asked their names not be released because of safety concerns.

Both said she was naked, had been bleeding from her left ear and had a gouge or cut on her left knee.

“Her ear was mangled,” one hunter said. “It was pretty disturbing.”

Both men said McNaughton’s body appeared to have been carefully placed in the ditch, not pushed from a vehicle.”

“Her left arm was up in the air,” one hunter said. “Her hand was across her stomach; legs together.”

Both hunters said they talked with police, who took pictures of the hunters’ boots.

“It’s been hard to sleep and everything (since then),” one hunter said. “To see a sight like that and it being in your home town … I’d just like to know who did it and how it happened. She has family.”

Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico Editor David Stevens contributed to this report.