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Las Cruces detectives investigating dozens of new tips in bowling alley massacre case

The scene of the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre 30 years ago.
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The scene of the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre 30 years ago.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Las Cruces police detectives are researching dozens of new tips related to the massacre at the city's bowling alley more than 30 years ago.

It's been a month since they announced a $30,000 reward for information leading to the suspects behind the unsolved crime -- the largest of its kind in U.S. history.

The detective leading the investigation told ABC-7 he hopes among those tips is the one that can solve the mystery.

"We're going to do this as if this is the first time we've received this (information)," said Det. Amador Martinez. He has been combing through 50 to 60 tips he's received since holding a news conference Feb. 6, looking for help finding whoever shot seven people on Feb. 10, 1990.

Four of the victims were children, and four of the seven victims were killed: bowling alley employee Steven Teran, 26; his daughters Valerie Teran, 2, and Paula Holguin, 6; and Amy Houser, 13. Manager Stephanie Senac, 34, died nine years later of complications from her injuries.

Martinez is careful sharing details.

"I can't go too into it because (the tipsters) name people who haven't been charged or they're just suspects at this time. It wouldn't be fair to them," Martinez said. "Some of the people who have been suspected of this crime in the past, their names have popped up again. And even though they've been looked into, I've decided we're going to do it all over again."

"Some of the tips are just additional information off old leads," Martinez added. "And that's always helpful because then we can kind of pick up right there and go from there."

But could one tip in particular be the one to crack the case open?

Just after ABC-7 anchor Stephanie Valle posted her Borderland Crimes podcast focusing on the bowling alley massacre last month, she received a call from a woman originally from Las Cruces who gave her the name of a man the tipster is certain is the younger attacker.

She claims his family knew he committed the crime but remained quiet.

Even though the man killed himself in 1997, ABC-7 has opted against revealing his name because he has not officially been named a suspect.

But ABC-7 confirmed with the Las Cruces Police Department that she also passed the information to investigators.

"The forensics I was able to get on the person suspected from this woman have been sent to the lab for evaluation and I'm just waiting for results," Martinez said. He hopes to get results from the lab in the coming weeks.

But he doesn't want to get his hopes up. He said the family of that man denied ever acknowledging he was involved in the massacre.

"We need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction," Martinez said. "We could probably reach probable cause and get an arrest, but if it's thrown out in court because there's not enough evidence to back it, then what good is that effort?"

Martinez's work could ultimately turn a cold case into a closed one.

Meantime, his efforts can address questions lingering in the mind of Ida Holguin, the former cook at the bowling alley who survived the massacre.

"Do they really have the case open?" Holguin told ABC-7 in February during an interview about the 30th anniversary of the shooting. "That's what I want to know."

LCPD still urges anyone with information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

New Mexico / News / Top Stories / Video

Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.


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