ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Relatives pointed the finger at him from the get-go. Now, more than a year later, Albuquerque Police charged their prime suspect in a double murder case. In the months leading up to this latest charge, investigators believe John Paul Ballejos killed again.
So, why wasn’t he charged sooner? KRQE Investigates shows viewers the new evidence police say finally made their case.
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A Lapel video from September shows officers arresting John Paul Ballejos. He was charged with murdering his downstairs neighbors at an Albuquerque apartment complex, Daniel Humphrey and Sonia Tenorio.
Surveillance video captured the cold-blooded killing, where investigators say Ballejos walked up behind Humphrey as he was opening his door, and shot him in the head … before going inside to shoot Tenorio. Today, Ballejos is charged in a second double murder case; murders that family members claim they knew he committed months prior to his arrest.
However, Ballejos wasn’t charged for that first double murder case, until now. “Well, I’m really grateful that charges have been filed, mostly for the family to start their journey on healing and finding closure in this matter,” explained David Adams.
Adams is an attorney representing Humphrey and Tenorio’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department, Ballejos’ apartment complex management, and the third-party agency assigned to conduct background checks on tenants. All of which, Adams claims, should have flagged Ballejos as a dangerous felon.
“I think that if this case was looked at in a timely manner, it may have saved the lives of two other people that were subsequently murdered after this particular case,” Adams told KRQE News 13.
Double Murder in May 2022
Ballejos has been in custody for the apartment complex murders since September. A criminal complaint filed three days ago now charges Ballejos with the May 2022 murders of his uncle, Hesiquio Cordova, and Cordova’s longtime girlfriend, Virginia Serna.
KRQE Investigates highlighted the cases in February, showing Cordova and Serna raised concerns about Ballejos before their murders. Cordova filed a restraining order against his nephew in 2020, writing Ballejos was violent and, “constantly reminds us that he’s murdered someone before and got away with self-defense…and that he will not be afraid to kill us.”
Hesiquio Cordova and his wife, Virginia Serna were found shot to death inside their home in May, 2022. They’d been babysitting their two-year-old granddaughter at the time of their murders.
While family members pointed the finger at Ballejos, he remained uncharged in their murders until now.
July Shooting Investigation
Then, in July of 2022, Tenorio’s niece called 911 after a gunshot was fired through her bedroom ceiling. The bullet came from her upstairs neighbor, John Paul Ballejos’ apartment, which she noted, “creeped her out.”
“It definitely came from his apartment,” an officer told her on scene. However, officers explained to her they couldn’t prove it was intentional or that Ballejos fired the shot.
Two months later, police were back at the apartment complex for the double-murder investigation of the 911 caller’s aunt and brother.
At the time, officers traced an SUV parked outside Ballejos’ apartment to his murdered uncle, Hesiquio Cordova. But it’s unclear whether detectives knew then that his uncle was killed in May, or that Ballejos was a suspect.
“It probably should have raised some red flags then as well,” said Adams.
What’s changed since last year?
New charging documents show just last month, detectives ordered an additional request to compare bullet casings from the apartment complex murders to the May murder scene, and linked casings at both locations. Investigators also traced the gun’s purchase to Ballejos’ grandfather, who lived in the home where the first double murder happened.
Now with two wrongful death lawsuits and two separate double murder cases still making their way through the court process, Adams is hopeful Ballejos’ case file could serve as a case study.
“It’s a good opportunity to look back now and see what could we have done differently,” said Adams. “When it comes to this type of work and there’s somebody that’s a danger to our community, the more timely an investigation and the more timely the advocacy is, the outcomes will be tremendously different.”
Ballejos is set to face a jury trial for the apartment complex double murders in November. A hearing has yet to be scheduled for the new murder charges. He will remain in custody until the November trial on a preventative detention motion granted by a judge.