New Mexico State Police said on Monday (June 4) that a home surveillance system captured the killings of three people at a residence near Dixon. The next day, investigators said they had found a new clip, which allegedly shows one victim’s relatives looting the bodies and the crime scene.
Late Friday (June 1), state police announced the capture of murder suspects Roger Gage, 33, of Arroyo Hondo and John Powell, 34, of Taos, in El Prado.
The men, identified as brothers in an affidavit for arrest warrant, were arraigned Monday (June 4) in Río Arriba Magistrate Court. They face first-degree murder and other charges related to the shooting deaths of April Browne, 42, Kierin Guillemin, 27, and Abraham Martinez, 36, at a residence in Cañoncito, a small neighborhood located in the hills 2 miles east of Dixon.
The next day, Tuesday (June 5), state police arrested Martinez’s brother, Ezekiel Martinez, 29, who had reported the crime to state police after finding the bodies, and his father, Robert Martinez, 70, on suspicion of robbing the corpses and the crime scene before making their report.
According to state police, Ezekiel Martinez reported the crime around 8 p.m. Wednesday night (May 30), telling state police that he and his father had discovered the bodies at the residence, but making no mention of what investigators say they later saw on a surveillance system.
Over the course of the next two days, investigators combed the house and its surroundings, uncovering several clues – a sliding door that had been broken out, blood trailing through a kitchen and drawers that had been ransacked – before they stumbled upon an unusual piece of evidence, which may offer a glimpse into one of the most brutal crimes committed in the Embudo Valley in many years.
Searching the home, investigators came across surveillance cameras installed in and around the residence, according to state police.
Although investigators found that the cord to the camera system had been cut, a digital video recorder had stored footage captured by the cameras. Investigators sent the recorder to the FBI Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Albuquerque for analysis.
One camera, in a master bedroom where all three victims were found shot to death, appears to have captured the murders and the alleged looting, according to investigators.
While the videos have not yet been made public, the affidavit released on Monday (June 4) stated that two armed suspects appear on camera as they enter the bedroom Tuesday (May 29) around 12:30 a.m.
They “immediately” shoot Kierin Guillemin, 27, who is seated in a chair, state police agent Joey Gallegos Sr. wrote.
The suspects, one brandishing a revolver and the other a semi-automatic handgun, move further into the frame and shoot April Browne, 42, as she sits on a bed. They then shoot Abraham Martinez, 36, as he lies under the covers on the bed.
According to the affidavit, the suspects can then be seen going through drawers at the residence, “stealing items and suspected drugs.”
The affidavit also states that “multiple cellular phones were observed in the residence as well as drug paraphernalia, which had what appeared to be heroin residue on them.”
The camera recorded the men shooting each victim once more in the head before they leave, according to the affidavit.
State police say that the video quality was sufficient to identify Gage and Powell as the suspects in the murders. According to court records, the two men had never before been charged with violent crimes in New Mexico.
After investigators processed the surveillance footage on Monday, state police announced on Tuesday that they had come across another clip, which allegedly shows Ezekiel Martinez and Robert Martinez looting the victims’ bodies and stealing from the crime scene shortly before they contacted state police.
“The video shows them going through a purse, wallet, and drawers and stealing items from within the residence,” a state police press release states. “They also steal items off the deceased bodies.”
The father and son have been charged with burglary, larceny and tampering with evidence.
State police said on Tuesday, however, that no evidence tied the father and son to the homicides.
Robert Martinez was released from custody this week due to medical issues. Ezekiel Martinez, however, remains incarcerated at the Río Arriba County Adult Detention Center, where suspects Powell and Gage are also being held on no bond holds.
In the wake of the grisly crime, many people in Dixon, Cañoncito and surrounding communities have been in shock. As of press time, a vigil had been planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday (June 6) in Dixon.
Some neighbors, who gathered at the edge of crime scene tape surrounding the home on Thursday (May 31), were less surprised at the news of the crime, with some alleging a history of drug activity at the residence.
“I used to see a vehicle going up there every day,” said Bruce Gonzales, who lives nearby on State Road 580. “People used to go pick up their drugs.”
Other area residents, such as Shirley Atencio, librarian at The Dixon Public Library, said that concerns surrounding drug activity and related crimes have been simmering beneath the surface in the Embudo Valley in recent years, but often go unseen. Atencio said the library recently sponsored a community watch program to combat what she and others see as a growing subculture fueled by the drug problem.
Asked for comment on drug-related crime in the area, other residents hesitated to go on the record.
Like other parts of New Mexico, drug activity in the Embudo Valley has reared its head in the recent past.
In March, a New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) operation swept up suspected heroin traffickers in Peñasco, Cordova and Dixon, where 34-year-old Leonard Gallegos was arrested.
Few incidents, however, have placed the drug problem in such clear view as the triple homicide.
With a yet unknown store of video evidence now in the hands of state police, questions remain as to what else investigators might discover in coming days.