Two final suspects take plea deals in brutal killing


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The final suspects in a heinous kidnapping and murder case in Albuquerque have taken plea deals in federal court. Mariah Ferry plead guilty on Thursday to two kidnapping-related charges in the murder of John Soyka, sharing gruesome details in her written statement.

Soyka went missing in 2017. His body was later found in a shallow grave in a rural area outside Albuquerque.

According to the plea agreement, then 19-year-old Ferry conspired with her boyfriend, Chase Smotherman, as well as Jose Torrez, to abduct Soyka and another man after the men broke into Smotherman’s home and stole marijuana and cash. Soyka was reportedly living in Torrez’s garage at the time.

Torrez texted the couple when Soyka was home, knowing they planned to harm him. Ferry said they blocked the exit while Smotherman beat Soyka with a baseball bat.

Then, they put Soyka in the trunk of Ferry’s car and bound his hands, ankles, and mouth with tape. Next, Ferry said she hit Soyka’s legs with the blunt end of an ax while he was tied up, and Soyka died shortly after.

Ferry then said they mutilated his body in a shed nearby. Next, she and Smotherman lured the second man involved in the burglary to their home, subsequently assaulting, bounding, gagging and torturing him for hours.

The couple showed him a picture of Soyka dead and told him the same would happen to him unless he showed them where to find the stolen drugs. Ferry said they did what the did to get drugs back and, “serve as a lesson to others.”

Torrez also plead guilty on Thursday for his part. He said he was the only one present for what happened in the garage, and he was paid for his involvement with meth.

Smotherman entered his guilty plea last month. Sentencing hearings have not yet been set.

Federal prosecutors are recommending 40 to 60 years in prison for Smotherman, 30 to 40 for Ferry and 14 for Torrez.

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