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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Top Stories

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Three dead in two-state murder/suicide

Staff Writers

PECOS, September 26, 2000 - A domestic violence incident turned deadly Monday evening, and left three people dead in an apparent double murder/suicide that is being investigated by law enforcement officials in Pecos and Eddy County, N.M.

Pecos Police officer Juan Vasquez said the department received a call at about 12:45 a.m. today from New Mexico law enforcement, in reference to a call his department received from a motel in White's City, N.M., at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns.

"Carlsbad called us and told us a gentleman had called and said he killed his wife and said he was going to kill himself," said Vasquez, who was one of several officers who then went to the couple's home, at 1310 S. Cypress St.

"We knew where he lived and when we went inside we found one male subject dead. We then secured the scene," Vasquez said.

Manuel "Bobby" Bitolas, 57, was pronounced dead today, after he was found inside the residence that belonged to Lupe and Luis Mora. Bitolas reportedly had been shot twice in the chest, but an autopsy has been ordered to officially determine the cause and time of death.

His body was sent to Lubbock for autopsy, and funeral services are pending with Pecos Funeral Home.

White's City is a resort area at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, located 17 miles southwest of Carlsbad, N.M. and 95 miles northwest of Pecos.

According to the Eddy County Sheriff's Department, at approximately 11:28 p.m., they received a 911 call from the desk clerk at the Best Western Hotel in White City, N.M. The desk clerk advised that a male subject in Room 162, had called and advised that he had killed his wife and was going to kill himself.

Sheriff's deputies and the New Mexico State Police responded to the location. After clearing the surrounding rooms and securing the area entry was made into the room. Two persons were found inside dead from gunshot wounds.

Victims were identified as Luis Mora, 59 and Lupe Mora, 57, both of 1310 S. Cypress St. in Pecos.

During the time officers were vacating the area, an attempt was being made to determine as to whom was actually in the room. Pecos Police were contacted at that time, and asked to do a check at the Mora residence, where Bitolas' body was discovered.

He was identified as a male friend of Lupe Mora, who had been estranged from her husband.

An ambulance was called to the Mora house shortly after 1 a.m. today, but no transport was made. After officers roped off the yard around the house, Pecos Police investigators Kelly Davis and Olga Lopez searched both the inside of the house and the area around the building for evidence. Neither Davis nor Lopez were available to comment about the incident as of press time.

Police had been called to the Mora house last week in connection with another incident involving the couple, and officials in both Pecos and Eddy County, N.M. are continuing their investigation.

The bodies of both Luis and Lupe Mora have been sent to Albuquerque, for autopsy. Final determination is pending on the outcome of the autopsy, but preliminary indications appear to be a homicide and suicide, the Eddy County Sheriff's Department said. Next of kin have been notified.

This is the first homicide in Pecos in two years, according to police, but the second and third deaths in the past 18 months at Carlsbad Caverns. A Massachusetts man was killed by his companion after the two became lost for two days while hiking at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in May of 1999.

Lack of entries threatens Fair's cookoff

Staff Writer

PECOS, September 26, 2000 - The 28th Annual World's Championship Barbeque Cookoff during the Reeves County Fall Fair is in jeopardy of being cancelled.

Pecos Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera said if they do not receive 25 entries by this Friday the cookoff, which has been held in conjunction with the fair for 25 of the past 27 years, would be cancelled.

Last year's cookoff had 29 entries, but as of today there are only two entries.

"I think people have lost interest," Rivera said.

Rivera said the interest has been dwindling every year. He said there were 56 entries in 1990 with even more entries in the previous years.

The cookoff had as many as 104 entries in the mid-1980s, but dropped off, especially among out-of-town competitors, after it was moved from being part of the Fall Fair to its own separate weekend in late October for two years.

Cold weather plagued those staying overnight at the cookoff sites when it was moved to late October, and the event was returned to its place during the Fall Fair weekend in 1992, but has not attracted more than about 45 entries in any year since then.

Rivera said that in previous years the prizes have been cash payouts. This year the cash payouts would be based on the number of entries because the Chamber has lost money on the event in recent years, according to Rivera.

"We can't keep having events that lose money," he said.

This year's cookoff is scheduled for Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7.

Rivera said the entrants would start cooking Friday night and have a good time and the judging would be at 3 p.m., on Saturday.

Out-of-town judges would be brought in to choose the winners.

Entrants would be able to pick up the meat provide by the Chamber at 8 p.m., on Friday.

The entry fee is $75 per team, which is lower than previous years.

Rivera said he is sorry that no one seems to want to enter the cookoff anymore.

"I'm disappointed to see the lack of interest," he said.

The Fall Fair Committee already canceled the Fair's concert, which had been held at the West of the Pecos Rodeo Arena since 1992. This year it has been replaced by a Ranch Rodeo Competition at the rodeo arena.

Rivera said the community had also lost interest in the concert, causing the Chamber to lose more money, but hopes the rodeo would bring out the community.

"Hopefully this will be the start of something different," he said.

Anyone interested in entering the 28th Annual Barbeque Cookoff needs to call the Chamber of Commerce at 445-2406. The deadline for entering is this Friday.

PSAT testing set for Oct. 17 at high school

PECOS, September 26, 2000 - The PSAT/NMSQT will be administered to all interested sophomores and juniors, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Pecos High School.

Registration deadline is Oct. 6 at the Pecos High School Counselor's Office and fee is $9.50.

Take the PSAT _ it can be the first step on the road to college and help with:

· Practice for the SAT.

· Assess your skills in three areas: verbal reasoning, mathematical reasoning and writing.

· Enter scholarship competitions (juniors: National Merit Scholarship).

· Ask colleges to send you information.

· Compare your academic skills with other students who are considering college.

For more information, call the PHS counselor's office at 447-7229.


Manuel Bitolas

Services are incomplete for Manuel "Bobby" Ortiz Bitolas, 57, of Pecos, who died today.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, September 26, 2000 - High Monday 75. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low in the mid 40s. Light south wind. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. High in the mid 80s. South wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Low around 50. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Low in the 50s. High in the 80s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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