Solving Cold Cases with Modern Forensic Technologies

The New Mexico Department of Justice is proud to introduce our new Cold Case Unit, a team of dedicated and seasoned investigators committed to revisiting unresolved cases in our community. Armed with advanced forensic technology, a fresh perspective, and a collaborative effort with statewide law enforcement agencies, this specialized unit is determined bring justice to the victims and closure to their families.

Do You Have a Tip?

The New Mexico Department of Justice wants your help! If you have any information related to the cases on this page, please submit your tip to the Cold Case Unit using the button below. Alternatively, you can call our Cold Case Tip Line at (505) 570-5244.

Cold Cases

Thomas and Judy McKnight

 - 11/15/1984

On November 15, 1984 a couple were found deceased from gun shots in their rural Lincoln County home. Cotton and Judy ran the Upper McKnight Ranch in southeastern Lincoln County. They were found shot to death, execution style, in the kitchen of their home. Each had last been seen alive two days earlier. The report also stated that there was no sign of forced entry, indicating that the victims likely knew the person or persons who shot them.

Stephen Sandlin

 - 05/07/1988

Mountainair Police Patrolman Stephen Sandlin was shot and killed inside of the Mountainair Police Department building at approximately 7:30 pm on Saturday, May 7, 1988. The last person to talk to Steve before his death was his girlfriend. The two were making plans for the next day. At around 7pm, their conversation was interrupted by an unidentified female who came into the station. She felt that the two were getting loud and possibly arguing. When he came back on the phone, he said that it was “no big deal” and that he had to go. He then hung up the phone.

Jack Lee Elkins

 - 11/07/1992

On November 7, 1992, Jack Elkins, was found deceased from a single gun shot in his home, which was behind his business, the Correo Trading Post located on Old Highway 66 near I-40 in Valencia County. Elkins had been the elected Sheriff for Valencia County Sheriff from 1967 to 1971.

Annie Tapia

 - 03/23/1995

On March 23rd, 1995, the Santa Fe Police Department conducted a welfare check at the San Franciscan Liquors/Rocking Tee Pee located at 4300 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe New Mexico. While conducting the welfare check the Body of Annie Tapia was discovered. The Office of the Medical Investigator ruled the death as a Homicide. The cause of death was blunt trauma to the head.

Judy and Gary Wilson

 - 11/09/1995

On November 9, 1995, Judy and Gary Wilson were reported missing. The Wilson’s moved into the Antelope Run Subdivision roughly 20 miles southwest of Quemado in rural Catron County, New Mexico in June of 1995. Gary and Judy were last seen on November 8th and their disappearance was reported the following day to the Catron County Sheriff’s Office by a neighbor. The Wilson’s truck was later located on December 30th several miles southeast of the Antelope Run Subdivision and the remains of Gary and Judy were found more than 9 months later, on September 1, 1996 in the Johnson Basin area by hikers. Both Gary and Judy had sustained apparent gunshot wounds.​ The disappearance and murder of the Wilson’s was investigated extensively by the New Mexico State Police as well as the Catron County Sheriff’s Office.

Erilaina Chavez

 - 01/10/2017

On the evening of January 10, 2017, at about 7:30 PM, Erilaina Chavez was driving her truck near Highway 118 where it crossed the railroad tracks, near I-40 in Williams Acre, NM; near Gallup.​ An unknown assailant riding in the vehicle, shot Erilaina and pushed her out onto the roadway. She was still alive when an unknown bystander found her. Another person driving down the road also stopped to help and called 911. Erilaina’s truck was found two days later at the Manuelito Chapter House.