Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, November 18, 1999
More arrests made in Tercero murder case
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Nov. 18, 1999 - Two more arrests have been made in connection
with a body that was found buried near the Pecos River in Ward County in
May of this year.
Warrants had been issued earlier this year, for Mario Hernandez, Jr.,
30 and Arturo Ortiz Gallegos, 27, both of Pecos, and were being sought
in connection with the death of Ruben Garcia Tercero, whose body was found
in Ward County on May 20.
The warrants out of Ward County were both felony murder charges, according
to sheriff's department reports.
Hernandez was found in Kansas following a traffic violation, while Gallegos
was located in Corpus Christi.
Hernandez, who also uses an alias, Mario Hernandez Navarette, had his
bond set at $150,000, while Gallegos' is facing a $50,000 bond. Both are
still in Ward County Jail.
"We're trying to finish up the case, so that we can take it before the
grand jury," said District Attorney Investigator Freddy Contreras.
Contreras added that there was more evidence and that the case was still
being investigated thoroughly.
The 39-year-old Tercero had been sought since mid-1998, after having
been reported missing in April of that year.
Acting on a tip received by Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, Ward County
sheriff's deputies and Texas Rangers excavated a grave site on the east
side of the Pecos River below Barstow Dam, where Tercero's body had been
With tears streaming down her face, Tercero's mother, Catalina Garcia,
recounted today how she waited for her son to come home _ he never did.
"I knew something had happened to him and deep in my heart, I knew he
was already dead," she said.
A third suspect had already been served with a warrant for murder earlier
this year, in connection with Tercero's death. Joe Angel Hernandez, 31,
of Pecos, was served with a warrant for murder and his bond for that offense
set at $100,000, according to Ward County Sheriff Jerry Heflin.
The warrant was served in the Ector County Jail, where the suspect was
being held on other charges, according to Heflin.
Hernandez was in the Ector County Jail charged with evading arrest,
robbery, evading arrest, threat causing bodily injury and death, murder
Total bonds for Hernandez have been set at $202,000, according to Ector
County Jail personnel.
At the time of his arrest Heflin said, "We're still investigating this
incident and more arrests will be made."
The grave, about the length of an adult male and three feet wide, was
not filled to the top. Anthropologist Dr. Robert Paine of Lubbock was called
to the site and helped officers to excavate Tercero's body.
In an interview last year with the Enterprise, Garcia said she had not
seen her son since April of 1998, when he told her he was going to a friend's
"My brother gave him a ride to his friend's house because he said they
were having a meeting," said Garcia.
The friend Tercero was visiting turned out to be Gallegos.
"He stayed at Arturo's house and I went and questioned him," said Garcia.
Garcia said she never got a straight answer from Gallegos. "He kept
telling me different stories, including that my son had taken off for San
Antonio," she said. "But I didn't believe him."
Garcia said her son had a drug problem and knew there was a warrant
out for his arrest, but said Tercero had been planning to turn himself
in after he visited with his two sons who were scheduled to be in Pecos
"He was just waiting to see his children and he said that after that
he would turn himself in and seek some help for his drug problem," she
"He's my youngest son, and yes, I know he has problems, but I don't
want to think the worst right now," she said.
Now, Garcia is seeking justice for a son she'll never see again. "I
want the same thing for them, that my son received," she said. "I have
heard that he died brutally."
Garcia said she has been told several things, including that her son
had to dig his own grave. "Then they tell me that all of them got to shoot
him first," she said.
"I just want to talk to somebody and let them know that what I want
for them, is the same thing my son received _ death," she said.
Garcia also is seeking answers for this terrible tragedy. "I want to
know why they killed him, what were their motives," she said.
She said she is still not completely at ease and has not found closure
to her dilemma. "I feel sick all the time, I don't feel like things are
right," she said.
So far a funeral for Tercero has not taken place either, since his remains
are still in the custody of law enforcement officials.
"We want to plan a funeral for him, when they release him," said Garcia.
"We want to remember the good times we had with him and pray for him, that
he be in a better place."
Trucker critically burned in Salt Flat blast
By JON FULBRIGHT
SALT FLAT, Nov. 18, 1999 - Two truck drivers were injured Wednesday
afternoon, one critically, when their vehicles were blown off the highway
by a pipeline explosion along U.S. 62-180 near Salt Flat, in northeastern
The explosion occurred about 3:30 p.m. CST on a liquid propane transmission
line operated by Rio Grande Pipeline Co., just outside Salt Flat, about
110 miles northwest of Pecos. The explosion sent a 200-foot tall flame
into the sky alongside the highway, and set the two trucks on fire while
blowing them off the road just past the Salt Flat Café.
According to Department of Public Safety Trooper Lucila Torres of El
Paso, the drivers were identified as Oscar Acosta and Umberto Villalobos.
Torres said MASH helicopter units from El Paso flew both men to Thomason
General Hospital, and Villalobos was later airlifted from El Paso to University
Medical Center in Lubbock. He was listed in critical condition this morning
in the hospital's burn unit.
Acosta was treated for minor burns at Thomason General and released
In order to get through the 5,700-foot Guadalupe Pass just 10 miles
to the east of Salt Flat, several pipelines run alongside U.S. 62-180 between
El Paso and the Midland-Odessa area. Their close proximity caused the Rio
Grande Pipeline blast to engulf a pipeline operated by Chevron USA, which
supplies crude oil to the company's El Paso refinery.
A Chevron Pipeline employee in the company's Midland office said crews
are being assembled to go to the explosion site, but could give out no
The fire continued to burn all night and into this morning, Torres said.
"They have not been able to shut it down yet, and all four pipeline companies
have people out there," Torres said. Mid-America and Navajo Pipeline are
the other two companies with transmission lines through Salt Flat.
U.S. 62-180 remained closed as of late this morning, and traffic between
El Paso and Carlsbad, N.M. is being detoured along Interstate 10 and State
Highway 54 through Van Horn to avoid the explosion site.
The fire was not expected to continue burning until the oil and propane
in the two pipelines had burned off.
According to the El Paso Times, a pocket of gas that had built
up from the leaking pipeline was ignited when two westbound school buses
carrying about 20 children passed by, a Texas Department of Public Safety
trooper said at the scene. The children were not harmed, but the two trucks
driving behind the buses were engulfed in flames, he said.
A secretary at Dell City High School said the buses involved did not
belong to the Dell City ISD. Salt Flat is part of the Dell City ISD.
Ex-guard gets probation in coke case
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, Nov. 18, 1999 - Former Reeves County Detention Center corrections
officer Ruben Baeza was sentenced yesterday in federal court to five years
probation with an $1,100 fine by U. S. District Judge Royal Furgeson.
Baeza plead guilty to two counts of a three-count indictment on September
10. The third count was dismissed on motion of the state during the sentencing
hearing, assistant U. S. District Attorney Jeff Parras said.
Parras was not the prosecuting attorney on the case since he knew Baeza,
but did stand in for Assistant U. S. District Attorney J. Miller during
the sentencing phase.
Count one charged Baeza with using the U. S. Mail to obtain marijuana
and cocaine with intent to distribute.
Count two charged him with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute
cocaine and count three charged him with possessing marijuana with intent
Baeza plead guilty to the first and third counts and the second count
Approximately one half of the public seating in the courtroom was filled
with supporters of Baeza during the hearing.
"I have received an incredible number of letters on your behalf from
your friends and family," Ferguson said. "All of these letters speak of
you as a good guy with great potential and express astonishment that you
got yourself into this position."
The judge asked everyone in the courtroom who was there to show their
support for Baeza to stand and then thanked them all for attending. He
then asked Baeza if he would like to make a statement.
Baeza, reading from a prepared statement, told the court that he knew
that what he did was wrong and accepted full responsibility for his actions.
"In a way getting caught was a blessing in disguise," he said. "It forced
me to realize that I was an addict and I thank God for the treatment I've
Baeza also spoke of his desire to be a good father to his seven-year-old
son and two-year-old daughter and his goal to eventually become a licensed
counselor for those with addictions.
"At this point I would appreciate the opportunity to get back on the
right track," he said.
"In some ways I guess I'm a second chance judge as far as probation
goes," Ferguson said in reply.
Ferguson told Baeza that he had made a terrible mistake, compounded
by the fact that he had been a law enforcement officer.
"On the good side, you've done so many of the right things after making
this terrible mistake and shown a wonderful commitment to getting it back
together," Ferguson said. "You've also obviously led a good life for most
of your life and that counts for something."
Ferguson also told Baeza that while he might be a second-chance judge,
he was not a third chance judge and that if Baeza came before him again
he would "lock him away for as long as the law allows."
Ferguson then sentenced Baeza to five years probation and fined him
a total of $900 plus another $200 special assessment ($100 for each count
"I hope it works for you," Ferguson said.
According to Parras, Baeza was involved in a scheme where a relative
of an inmate would mail drugs to Baeza and then Baeza would deliver a portion
of the drugs to the inmate.
A drug dog alerted on a package at the post office leading to Baeza's
eventual arrest, Parras said.
In other proceedings Parras tried a case before a jury on Tuesday.
Rosalba Dominguez-Hernandez was convicted of possessing 125 pounds of
After the one-day trial the jury only deliberated nine minutes before
returning the guilty verdict, Parras said.
PIP meetings for parents, kids set for Saturday
PECOS, Nov. 18, 1999 - The first meetings for both children involved in
the Players in Progress youth basketball program and their parents will
be held this Saturday at the old Pecos High School gym.
The PIP program is sponsored by the Reeves County Community Sports and
Recreation Department and is for boys and girls in kindergarten through
sixth grade. It is designed to teach them both ball handling skills and
the fundamentals of basketball.
The first session for the players will start on Saturday at 9 a.m. in
the old Pecos High School gym, with a parents meeting to follow at 11 a.m.
For further information on the PIPs program, call the RCCRD at 447-9776.
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning
numbers drawn: 1-15-16-35-36-50. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number
matching six of six: 1 Winning ticket(s) sold in: Cockrell Hill. Matching
five of six: 96. Prize: $1,056. Matching four of six :3,493. Prize: $105.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas
Lottery, in order: 0-2-6 (zero, two, six)
James R. Leigh
Services are incomplete for James R. Leigh, 74, who died Tuesday, Nov.
16, 1999, at his residence.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Thomas Lee Payne
Thomas Lee Payne, 80, of Pecos, died Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1999 at Methodist
Hospital in Lubbock.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 19, at the
Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. J.E. McCormick and Monty Huffman officiating.
He was born Oct. 24, 1919, in Pampa, was a U.S. Army Veteran of World
War II and a retired shift supervisor at the Automotive Proving Grounds
Survivors include one nephew Roy D. Prewit of Pecos; two nieces, Beverley
Lindemann of Pecos and Barbara Bradley of Girvin, their children and many
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, Nov. 18, 1999 - High Wednesday 86. Low this morning 47. Forecast
for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 40s. West to northwest wind
10-20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid 70s. North to northeast
wind 5-15 mph.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise