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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Police investigate possible ambush in murder-suicide

Staff Writer

PECOS, September 27, 2000 - The man whom Pecos Police believe murdered his wife and a friend Monday before killing himself had been arrested by Pecos police just a week earlier in connection with a domestic altercation, while reports from police and family members said the murder victims may have been ambushed by the suspect as they entered the house around noontime on Monday.

"We had visited the residence in the past," said Pecos Police Investigator Kelly Davis, referring to the home of Luis and Lupe Mora, at 1310 S. Cypress St.

Davis stated that he knew of at least one incident within the past week that had resulted in the arrest of Luis Mora. Police believe Mora killed Manuel "Bobby" Bitolas at the Cypress Street home, then drove his wife to a motel at White's City, N.M., Monday night, where he killed her and then committed suicide according to officials with the Eddy County, N.M., Sheriff's Department.

Pecos Police Department reports indicate that Mora was been arrested seven days before the murders, on Sept. 18, in the 2200 block of Cactus Street, for Assault Under the Family Violence Act.

"We had also referred him once to Mental Health Mental Retardation after a disturbance call in which we found him in his pickup truck with a gun," said Davis. "He had threatened suicide."

Officials from the local MHMR office were unavailable for comment today on what action, if any, was recommended for Mora following the police department referral.

Davis stated that at the time of the Sept. 18 arrest all of Mora's guns had been confiscated and that they didn't know where he had purchased the one that was used in the incident.

The gun used in all three shootings was a Lorcin 380, police said.

"We've interviewed some people and nobody heard anything," said Davis. "Of course, in cases like this the gunshots can't be heard outside the house."

According to the Eddy County Sheriff's Department, at approximately 10:28 p.m., MDT they received a 911 call from the desk clerk at the Best Western Hotel in White's City, N.M., located at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, an a 90-mile drive northwest from Pecos. The desk clerk advised that a male subject in Room 162, had called and advised that he had killed his wife and was going to kill himself.

Sheriff's deputies and the New Mexico State Police responded to the location. After clearing the surrounding rooms and securing the area entry was made into the room. Two persons were found inside dead from gunshot wounds.

Victims were identified as Luis Mora, 59 and Lupe Mora, 57, both of 1310 S. Cypress St. in Pecos.

Eddy County officials called Pecos Police about Mora's threat at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, 77 minutes after receiving the original 911 call, and went to his house on Cypress Street, where they found Bitolas' body. An ambulance was called to the scene but no transport was made, and Davis said the gap of over an hour between the 911 call and the call from the Eddy County Sheriff's Department to Pecos Police did not make a difference in Bitolas' fate.

"This is just an estimation, but we've estimated the time of death for Bitolas, at noon Monday even though Mora didn't contact police until (Monday night)," Davis said.

Bitolas family members said the Moras had been separated. "She (Lupe) had asked my son Bobby, if she could stay with him for a few days, until she found a place to live," said Manuel "Bibi" Bitolas, Bobby's father.

Bitolas explained that Lupe had told her son, that she was leaving her husband because the week before he had flown into a rage and had cut her hair off. "She just wanted to leave and he had told her to go ahead," said Bitolas. "My son then asked me if he could borrow my pickup truck."

According to Bibi Bitolas, Bobby said he needed the pickup truck to move some of Lupe's belongings from the home. "The caller ID at my son's house shows that Luis called Lupe at 11:35 a.m. and told her he was going to Lubbock for three days and to go ahead and go get the rest of her belongings out of the house," said Bitolas, who added he was worried about lending his son the truck to go over to Luis Mora's house.

Luis also told his estranged wife where the keys to the home were and that he would be taking her car and leaving his pickup at the home, but for her to go and move her items out, that he would not bother her. "We think that he didn't leave, but instead hid somewhere inside the house and my son was shot as soon as the two walked in," said Bitolas.

The couple walked into the home around lunchtime, after having picked up the older Bitolas' pickup truck.

The call on the caller ID at Bobby Bitolas' home coincides with the time of death estimated for him. "The police told us that he had been dead since noon, which is exactly when the two walked into the house to remove her things," said Bibi Bitolas. "When he killed her we still don't know exactly."

Police and Eddy County deputies are also investigating how Mora transported his wife up to the Best Western Motel in White's City, and got her into the motel room, without anyone else noticing a problem.

Bitolas, 57, was pronounced dead Tuesday by Justice of the Peace Amanario Ramon, and an autopsy was ordered to officially determine the cause and time of death.

His body was sent to Lubbock for the autopsy and funeral services have been scheduled for Friday, with Pecos Funeral Home.

Bitolas was identified as a male friend of Lupe Mora, who had been estranged from her husband.

"We've interviewed quite a few people and are in the process of investigation," said Head Detective for the Eddy County Sheriff's Department Gary McCandless.

The bodies of both Moras have been sent to Albuquerque, N.M., for autopsy. Final determination is pending on the outcome of the autopsy, but preliminary indications appear to be a homicide and suicide, the Eddy County Sheriff's Department's report said.

"One of our detectives, Jim Estrada, is in Albuquerque today, where they are conducting the autopsies," said McCandless. "We will hold a briefing as soon as he gets here and release more information after that."

McCandless said that the sheriff's department would also release a preliminary autopsy report, but the toxicology part of the autopsy won't be available for another 6-8 weeks. "That part takes longer, but a preliminary report will be issued," he said.

RCH board asked for UP motel tax abatement

Staff Writer

PECOS, September 27, 2000 - Reeves County Hospital Board heard a request for tax abatement and approved a contract for radiology services during last night's regular meeting.

Roy Riggs of Lodging Enterprises asked the board to consider approving the contemplated Union Pacific Railroad sleep-point facility for inclusion in the designated enterprise zone.

Inclusion in the zone would grant the facility several benefits, including tax abatement from most local taxing entities.

Riggs explained that his company was planning on building a 40-room facility just west of the Flying J truck stop on Interstate 20.

The facility would be used as a layover for Union Pacific train crews who had worked the maximum eight hours allowed by federal regulations.

Riggs said that while the facility would be open to the public that he expected very few vacancies, if any, since this kind of facility usually runs and more than a 100 percent occupancy rate.

Riggs said that since many crews would spend less than a full 24-hour day in the facility at least for one of the days the crew was in Pecos.

"If we get the abatement we will turn around and cut the hospital a check for the exact amount we would have paid," Riggs said.

"I'm not sure I understand why an abatement would be of any value to you if you are going to donate the money to the hospital anyway," board president Marcella Lovett said.

Riggs said that inclusion in the Enterprise Zone had several other advantages other than tax abatement.

The board agreed to look into the possible abatement.

The board also approved a contract for radiology services with Dr. Paparao Adusumilli.

According to the contract Adusumilli will be on sight at Reeves County Hospital on Monday evenings and on Tuesday and Thursday mornings until all exams and X-ray readings are completed.

The hospital will pay Adusumilli $4,000 a month for the service.

"This is a temporary agreement. The medical staff still feels that we need a full-time radiologist and this contract can be terminated by either side on 60 days notice," Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. W.J. Bang said.

Business Office and Medical Records Director Lily Serrano informed the board that accounts receivable for out-patient care was down by about 30 percent and that she expected the deficit to continue for some time.

The problem is with the new Ambulatory Payment Classification System for Medicare, which also includes Medicaid, Serrano said.

She explained that the government had changed the billing system as of August 1, and that since that time the system had been a mess.

"Out-patient care is a very important part of our services and out-patient receivables are a lot higher than our in-patient," she said.

Serrano said the government might get the problem straightened out as early at November but that there was no guarantee. Until that time, Medicare and Medicaid collections will be several months behind for the hospital.

In other business the board approved a contract for election services with Debbie Thomas. By the terms of the contract Thomas will coordinate the board elections for the hospital, school board and city again for the 2000-2001 election cycle.

According to the contract the combined districts will pay Thomas $8,000 for her services, divided evenly between the three entities.

Motel request, budget approval on council's agenda

PECOS, September 27, 2000 - Roy Riggs of Lodging Enterprises will ask for property tax abatement from the Town of Pecos City Council in the regular meeting at 7:30 a.m., on Thursday at City Hall.

Riggs already met with the Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors last night to discuss building an Oak Tree Inn in Pecos.

Riggs informed the Reeves County Hospital Board last night that the new motel would be for Union Pacific train operators coming through and around Pecos and would be located near the Flying J Truck Stop on the south side of Pecos.

In other action, the council will have the final reading for the approval of the budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year as well as the second reading for the amended water and sewer rate ordinances.

Also on the agenda is discussion of the city's Duncan Disposal contract for waste hauling with Duncan representative Jack Burns.

The previous meetings the council has met with representatives from Duncan to discuss the contract and services they provide for Pecos. Duncan is seeking a sharp increase in their trash hauling fee, and the city is studying seeking an arid exemption permit to construct a new landfill instead of using Duncan to transport waste to their site near Penwell.

Pecos Fire Chief Roy Pena will request for authorization to advertise for bids on a new fire truck during Thursday's council meeting.

Sul Ross shifts `Family Day' to late October

PECOS, September 27, 2000 - Due to a conflict in community and area activities, Family Day at Sul Ross State University has been changed from Saturday, Oct. 7 to Saturday, Oct. 28.

Activities will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. A full schedule of events will be published in the near future.

For more information, contact Sul Ross Advising Center, (915) 837-8203.


Guadalupe Mora

Guadalupe Nunez Mora, 57, of Pecos, died Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000, in White's City, N.M.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 29, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

She was born July 9, 1943, in Fort Stockton, was a housewife, a lifetime Pecos resident and a Catholic.

She was preceded in death by Atanacio and Catalina C. Nunez and one brother Nicolas Nunez.

Survivors include one son, Bernardino Mora of Houston; three daughters, Melinda Ramirez of Houston, Grace Marie M. Peters of Converse, Tx., Melissa M. Orona of San Marcos; two brothers, F.C. Nunez of Madisonville, La., Benito Nunez of New Mexico; one sister, Eulalia Valdez of Lubbock and eight grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Luis Mora

Luis Mora, 59, of Pecos, died Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000, in White's City, N.M.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 29, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born Feb. 3, 1941, in Pecos, had been a member of the Army National Guard, was retired from Pennzoil, was a lifetime Pecos resident and a Catholic.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Bernardino D. and Elena A. Mora; one brother, Manuel Mora and one sister, Mary Castro.

Survivors include one son, Bernardino Mora of Houston; three daughters, Melinda M. Ramirez of Houston, Grace Marie M. Peters of Converse, Tx., Melissa M. Orona of San Marcos; two sisters, Delma Mosby of Carlsbad, N.M., Ramona Jimenez of Odessa and eight grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, September 27, 2000 - High Tuesday 86. Low this morning 48. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low near 50. Light southeast wind. Thursday: Mostly sunny. High 85-90. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Low 50-55. Friday: Partly cloudy. Low in the 50s. High 85-90.

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