New Mexico’s Top 10 Major News Stories of 2018

New Mexico News

Here’s a look back at major news stories that happened throughout New Mexico in 2018. 

Eleven children found at a northern New Mexico compound

In August, authorities raided a compound near Amalia in Taos County. Eleven malnourished children were found. This all started when a man from Georgia was accused of abducting his toddler son.

After authorities searched the compound, the remains of the missing toddler were found. 

Related Coverage: 

Two fatal bus crashes took place in New Mexico

One happened in July, that left three people dead and hospitalized 24. The crash happened along I-25 north of Bernalillo after a car rear-ended a pickup truck. 

The second happened in August, where eight people died. Police say a blowout tire caused a truck driver to swerve across I-40 and hit a Greyhound bus head-on.

Woman killed in Southwest Airlines jetliner explosion was from Albuquerque

Jennifer Riordan was a prominent community member who many remember locally as the head of community relations for Wells Fargo in New Mexico, where she oversaw volunteer and charitable programs for the last decade.

Riordan was critically injured on board a Southwest Airlines flights from New York to Dallas. 149 people were on board the flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

The airline says the plane’s left engine exploded in mid-flight. The force was enough to break a window and send shrapnel into the aircraft. 

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Justin Hansen sentenced to 18 years for 2008 shovel beating case

Justin Hansen was sentenced to the maximum, 18 years for beating then Cibola High school student Brittani Marcell with a shovel in her home back in 2008. 

Brittani Marcell’s family and Justin Hansen’s former friends took turns to try and convince the judge to give him the max.

Related Coverage:

Victoria Martens mother takes plea deal; unidentified 4th suspect still at large 

Victoria Martens mother, Michelle, took a plea deal resulting in most of the charges against her being dropped. 

Fabian Gonzales, was also charged with murdering Victoria in August 2016. However, in June 2018 District Attorney Raul Torrez revealed that another man, who is still out there, could be involved in Victoria’s murder. 

The charges were changed and now Gonzales is facing a child abuse resulting in death charge. He is awaiting trial.

Jessica Kelley, another suspect in the chase is charged with child abuse resulting in death. Kelley’s trial is set to begin next month. 

Related Coverage:

3 people were arrested for torture, death of a 13-year-old boy

Jeremiah Valencia was found in a shallow grave along a highway outside of Nambe in January. Santa Fe County Deputies said the 13-year-old boy spent his final days living in a dog kennel after suffering years of abuse.

His mother, Tracy Pena, her boyfriend, Thomas Ferguson, and his son, Jordan Nunez, were all arrested.

Pena took a plea deal and will spend 12 years in prison. A big part of the plea deal is Pena will have to testify against accused killer, Jordan Nunez. Thomas Ferguson who was also accused of killing the teen, killed himself in prison.

Related Coverage:

University of New Mexico cut four sports programs

The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents approved the recommendation to cut four sports. The four teams sports programs that were cut were men’s soccer, men’s and women’s skiing and beach volleyball.

Related Coverage

Albuquerque to become Netflix new production hub

Netflix announced it’s setting up its own production studios in Albuquerque. The streaming company said they will be taking over Albuquerque Studios. 

New Mexico wildfires

One of the biggest wildfires that erupted this year was the Ute Park Fire. The fire grew to an estimated 36,740 acres and caused all residents in the nearby area to evacuate. 

Fugitive priest Arthur Perrault arrested, extradited to New Mexico

Former Albuquerque priest Arthur J. Perrault, who fled the U.S. in the 1990s after being accused of sexually abusing children, was been caught and extradited back to New Mexico. 

Brian Urlacher inducted into the Hall of Fame

New Mexico’s own Brian Urlacher is now officially an NFL legend.  Urlacher is a Lovington High School graduate and Lobo Football alum.

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