Part 2 of The Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in New Mexico
Last week, we looked at some of the biggest unsolved mysteries in New Mexico. Little did we know that we had barely scratched the surface of the world of mysteries in this intriguing state. We asked you, our dear readers, if you knew about any other unsolved mysteries, and you delivered.
Thanks to your eye opening comments, we now want to know what ever happened to…..
Albert Jennings Fountain and His 8 Year Old Son Henry
“Surprised the murders of my Grandfather Albert Jennings Fountain and his 8 year old son Henry was not mentioned. These murders are the oldest unsolved murders in NM history. We do not want them to ever be forgotten! They were murdered on the White Sands in Feb . 1896.” – Mary Olberg
“There is still the unsolved mystery of Albert Jennings Fountain and his young son Henry who disappeared in the White Sands area in 1896.” – Sandy Broadbent
As Mary Olberg and Sandy Broadbent brought to our attention, 58 year old Albert Jennings Fountain disappeared from the White Sands in Doña Ana County, New Mexico Territory. He was traveling with his eight year old son, Henry Fountain, also missing from the scene of the apparent crime. The two victims disappeared in February of 1896, leaving behind little more than a bloody scene that suggested a murder had taken place.
Fountain was a Civil War veteran who fought for the Union Army and later became a lawyer. He famously defended Billy the Kid against murder charges, and was elected to the New Mexico legislature in 1888. He also founded the ‘Mesilla Valley Independent,’ a newspaper printed in Spanish and English.
Before Fountain and his young son disappeared, they were on their way home to Mesilla from Lincoln, New Mexico, where Fountain had assisted in the prosecution of Oliver M. Lee and William McNew. Police suspected that someone murdered the two victims. They left nothing behind aside from a bloody scene, multiple cartridge cases, and the small bit of property that they carried with them.
Theories abounded on what happened to the two likely murder victims, as their bodies were never found, nor was any clear evidence concerning who might have done it. The only missing items were a couple of blankets and Fountain’s rifle. As a lawyer and politician, Fountain was not without enemies. Among those enemies were a couple of powerful landowners, including Lee. Lee and his employees were suspected of murdering Fountain and his son, though nothing was ever proven and nobody was convicted.
Who Killed Father Reynaldo Rivera in Santa Fe?
“What about Father Reynaldo?” – Annette Gutiérrez-Millspaugh
Annette Gutiérrez-Millspaugh shared with us that nobody had ever solved the 1982 murder of Father Reynaldo Rivera. Someone called Father Reynaldo at the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe to provide the last rites to a dying grandfather. By the next day, he had still not returned, so his colleagues reported him as missing. There was a massive scale search of the area, and they found his body after three days. The location of his body was roughly three miles from where the unknown caller requested that he perform those last rights. Gunshot wounds were the cause of death. Police suspected that he was lured to the location by two criminals who overpowered and killed him. To this day, nobody has solved the crime, and many questions still remain.
Who Killed Thomas and Judy McKnight in 1984?
“The McKnight murders in Picacho were never solved either.” – Karen Brown
Karen Brown remembered the McKnights. In November of 1984, the bodies of Thomas ‘Cotton’ and Judy McKnight were found in the kitchen of their Lincoln County ranch house. They were both killed by gunshot wounds, but there was no indication of forced entry. That suggests that they knew their attacker. That’s really all that anyone knows since the case went cold without any evidence to point to motive or the identity of the murderer.
The 1977 Abduction of Lollie Wood Tipton from a Convenience Store
I remember [Lollie] Tipton abducted from a [convenience store] in … the late 1960’s early 1970’s. I wonder if she was ever found??? – Nancy Bowns
Finally, Nancy Bowns brought our attention to the case of Lollie Wood Tipton. A knife wielding criminal abducted Lollie from the Paralta, New Mexico, Circle K store in 1977. The good news is that we can answer this question for you, Nancy: a well respected sheriff solved this mystery. The bad news is that Lollie did not survive.
Lollie was only twenty years old and the mother of two young children in 1977. She was working the graveyard shift at the Circle K convenience store when a man came in with a knife. Then, two customers showed up during the struggle. So, the kidnapper stabbed one of them multiple times and threatened the other with a knife to the throat. Then, the abductor took Lollie to his car and fled the scene. Sherriff Lawrence Romero solved this crime.
In this case, it was Romero’s wife, Hazel, who suggested that the man may have been drinking at a nearby bar prior to committing the crime. Then, with nothing more than a police sketch created from interviews with the witnesses, Romero went to that bar and found out that his wife’s intuition was spot on. The bartender recognized the kidnapper’s image, and this led to the arrest of William T. Altum. Kidnapping and armed robbery were in the criminal history of Altum. In fact, a mental institution had just recently released him back into society.
Unfortunately, the news wasn’t good for Lollie’s family. Altum led investigators to the location of Lollie’s body in Albuquerque. A massive skull fracture was the cause of death.
Stay Tuned for Part Three of the Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in New Mexico
Thank you dear readers for contributing to this conversation with the mysteries you recall that we had yet to discover. We couldn’t include them all in this post, but if we didn’t get to your comment, stay tuned for Part 3 in our series of unsolved mysteries in New Mexico. We look forward to investigating the disappearance of Orlando Valdez and young Robbie Romero, as well as who killed Cricket Coogler and young Rosemary Tellez.
If you know of any others, keep sharing in the comments.