ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Announcing breaks in two unrelated, high-profile crime cases, Albuquerque Police say they’ve positively identified a suspect accused of killing a massage parlor employee in February, while officers have also made an arrest of an alleged serial bank robber. APD and city leaders made the announcements in a sudden news conference Tuesday afternoon.
APD says Rafael Marquez, 31, is presumed to be responsible for shooting and killing a woman inside the Canna Spa near Coors and Fortuna on February 15, 2022. Marquez, who is now deceased, is the same man who APD says went on crime spree across the city on a Sunday night earlier this month. That February 20th crime spree involved multiple kidnappings, carjackings and gunfire.
Marquez was killed by police on February 25, 2022, following a pursuit and shooting in Valencia County involving New Mexico State Police and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Officers shot Marquez after her rolled his vehicle in a crash during the pursuit. Following Marquez’s death, Albuquerque Police identified Marquez as the suspect in the February 20 crime spree on March 3.
During the news conference Tuesday, they were in part able to tie Marquez to the Feb. 15 massage parlor murder after the department received a tip that Marquez admitted to the killing. APD says officers later found the black pickup truck shown in the spa’s surveillance video which the massage parlor murder suspect was thought to have driven away in.
Investigators further found Marquez’s fingerprints inside the Canna Spa following the murder. His fingerprints were also found inside the black truck. In addition, APD also says officers also found a DVR system in the truck Marquez was connected to, which was taken from the massage parlor.
APD says Marquez is also thought to be connected to a December 24, 2021 homicide in southeast Albuquerque near Zuni and San Mateo. 32-year-old David Brown was killed in that case. When asked about that case Tuesday, APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said the case is still in the early stages of invetigation.
“We still don’t have too much extra to release than we already did on that,” Hartsock said. “We do believe it was a robbery, so the [modus operandi] is matching and there’s more information than that, but there’s other persons out there that we’re still interested in talking to and so we’re not going to release anything further at this point.”
The February 15 massage parlor murder was the second shooting death to happen inside an Asian-owned massage parlor in Albuquerque in 2022. The first shooting happened on January 24 at the Wonderful Massage business on Menual near San Padro.
APD says during an attempted robbery at Wonderful Massage, 45-year old owner Shihui Fang was shot and killed in a shootout with two suspect. APD arrested both of the suspects in that case, 18-year old Jorge Rivera-Ramirez and 19-year old Juan Carlos Hernandez. So far, Albuquerque Police have given no indication that either of the two shooting cases are connected.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Executive Director of the Asian Business Collaborative Kristelle Siarza said her group has been working with all Asian-owned massage businesses and Asian-Pacific Islander businesses to help them feel safer. Siarza says the group has also been working on the issue with the New Mexico Asian Family Center.
“[The New Mexico Asian Family Center] has been real champions for the Asian community because they have been helping all API families throughout this difficult time period,” Siarza said. “Not only are they advocating for safety and security, but they’ve been the key piece of advocating against sexualization of women in the API community, which is potentially what led to these strings of crimes or our API businesses.”
Bank Robbery Arrest Announced
Albuquerque Police also announced the arrest of an alleged serial bank robber. APD Chief Harold Medina said officers arrested Evan Lemmon on Monday. Lemmon is accused of having as a role in as many as nine bank robberies in the Albuquerque area since late September.
“This was a huge arrest for us in our fight against violent criminals,” Chief Medina said. “It’s the boots on the ground, the officers out there every day and the hard work and the great leadership by our investigative section that is getting to a lot of cases and clearing them up.”
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Tuesday, Lemon is accused of robbing nine different banks in Albuquerque between September 29, 2021 and March 7, 2022. Investigators claims Lemmon stole as much as $25,473 dollars by robbing Bank of the West, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo branches on Eubank, Wyoming, Louisiana and Montgomery over the last six months.