On Saturday, January 26, 1991, Rio Arriba County Deputy Sheriff Jerry Martinez went to Ricky Abeyta’s residence near Chimayo to serve a restraining order. Ricky Abeyta had fired three shots at Ignacita Sandoval and Celina Gonzales on the previous Wednesday. The deputy didn’t find Abeyta at home and departed before 4:00 p.m.
Ricky Abeyta returned home soon after Martinez left. Trouble began when Abeyta came home and found his girl-friend moving her things out of the mobile home they shared in Chimayo, 100 miles north of Albuquerque. According to witnesses, he said, “!Con esto pagan!” (With this I pay you back!) Then he began shooting the people there with a rifle. He killed five people immediately: three women, a man and a five-month-old baby.
Deputy Martinez returned to the scene, apparently as the initial shooting ended. Abeyta confronted the officer at gunpoint, and, according to witnesses, he shot the deputy twice in the head at close range. Martinez’s body was found later beside his patrol car. Abeyta also subsequently killed State Police Officer Glen Huber. Other officers arrived as Abeyta managed to escape. Roadblocks were established and scores of officers took up the search for the fugitive. A helicopter rigged with night vision equipment was brought in. The fugitive evaded capture throughout the night and well into the next day.
The Surrender of Ricky Abeyta
Then, at about 9:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, State Police officers received word that Abeyta, along with some of his family members, were at the District V State Police office in Albuquerque. The killer wished to surrender. Captain James O. Jennings, Sgt. Gary Smith and Officer Danny Lichtenberger took Abeyta into custody. Abeyta expressed concern that if he continued to run and hide, he would not be taken alive by police officers when they found him. He asked arresting officers not to hurt him, and said he did not want to be handcuffed. Captain Jennings told him that he would not be hurt, but that he would be cuffed. He was taken to Santa Fe without incident.
Tried for his crimes in November 1991, Ricky Abeyta was convicted on four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Combined, and to be served consecutively, Abeyta’s sentences totaled 146 years.