Four arrested in 'chainsaw' burglary north of Questa


The Taos County Sheriff's Office arrested four individuals Thursday (Feb. 15) who had allegedly burglarized a cabin north of Questa by carving through a wall with a chainsaw.

Deputies responded to a call of the burglary Thursday afternoon, which Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said a witness had first reported to him directly.

According to a press release disseminated Monday (Feb. 19), the witness told Hogrefe they had seen a grey Suburban with a trailer parked along Cabresto Road near a seasonally used log cabin. They said they also saw three individuals acting suspiciously and then flee the area in the Suburban.

Inspecting the cabin, the witness said they noticed a hole that appeared to have been cut into a wall "using a chainsaw."

Hogrefe shared the information with Taos Central Dispatch, which then notified law enforcement to be on the lookout for the suspicious vehicle.

Around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, Sgt. Jason Rael and Questa Police Officer Miguel Cardenas stopped a Suburban headed southbound on Highway 522 that matched the description the witness had provided.

Sgt. Rael detained four occupants, Steven Hatley, Tabitha Hatley, Celso Cornelio-Molina and Phillip Carpio-Torres.

According to the release, law enforcement found probable cause, including "suspected stolen property" located inside the Suburban, to arrest and charge all four individuals.

Hogrefe said his office is applying for a search warrant for the vehicle "to inventory the stolen items." Thus far, the sheriff's office has identified ski and fishing equipment among the items allegedly stolen from the cabin, Hogrefe said.

Steven Hatley is being held on a $20,000 bond for charges that include residential burglary, possession of a firearm by a felon and tampering with evidence.

Hatley's wife, Tabitha Hatley, was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, but was later released on her own recognizance.

Cornelio-Molina is also being held on a $20,000 bond. He was charged with residential burglary and conspiracy.

Carpio-Torres' bond was also set at $20,000. He has been charged with burglary and tampering with evidence.

Hogrefe said that other charges, including those for property damages, may be added at a later date.

The sheriff's office notified the owners of the cabin of the alleged burglary. They traveled to Taos County over the weekend to identify the items allegedly stolen from the cabin, a residence that has been in their family for more than 50 years.

For more on this story, pick up the Feb. 22 edition of The Taos News.

burglary, Questa