Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Murder In The First

By Dennis Domrzalski

MAY 17, 1999:  It doesn't happen as often now as it did a year ago, but Odelia Sedillo still finds herself gripped by a compulsion. If she's out driving and she spots a white Chevy S-10 pickup truck, she follows it. She writes down the license plate number and the address at which its driver parks. If she sees a white Chevy pickup parked, she gets out of her car to check its front grill for damage.Odelia Sedillo's compulsion takes her out on Albuquerque's streets at 3 a.m. She cruises the dark streets of the Southeast Heights near Wellesley and San Joaquin, looking for a white Chevy S-10 pickup truck and anything else that she thinks will help her.

Odelia Sedillo can't help herself. She must follow white pickups at three in the morning. She must because she is a mother whose son was murdered. And until she or the cops find the person or persons who chased down her son's car and shot it and him full of bullets, she won't rest.Sedillo has been following white pickups for more than a year now, ever since April 7, 1998, when her son, Raymond, 28, the father of five, was killed shortly after 4 a.m. She does it in part because she thinks the Albuquerque Police Department mishandled the case at first, and because, like many crime victims, she needs answers and the names and faces of those who killed Raymond."I need to lay him to rest. I need to put a face to these people. If they were brought to trial, I probably wouldn't attend. But I need to lay it to rest," Sedillo says.

The Shooting

Sedillo, 52, feels that she actually did say goodbye to Raymond before he died. Her son, a tattoo artist, was playing with his band, Colon Vision, in the garage of her San Jose neighborhood home on the evening of April 6, 1998. When Sedillo got home from her job, helping to run a Head Start program for Youth Development Inc., she went to the garage to say hello to Ray and the two other band members. She offered to make them sandwiches. Ray declined, saying his wife Laura was planning a spaghetti dinner that night."So I hugged him and told him 'goodbye,' and I told him that I was going to his sister's house," Sedillo says. "That is the last I saw of my son."The first call on the shooting came into the Police Department's 911 operators at 4:10 a.m. on April 7, 1998, by someone who reported hearing gunshots in the area of Carlisle Boulevard and Smith Avenue Southeast.Witnesses told police what little of the incident they saw. Ray Sedillo was driving his 1995 Silver Chrysler Sebring in the area just south of Nob Hill. A white pickup truck, possibly a Chevy, was chasing the Chrysler and ramming it from behind. Someone in the pickup was firing a gun at the Chrysler. Witnesses reported that at least six shots were fired. The Chrysler eventually jumped a curb, knocked over a stop sign and then rolled to a stop at 928 Carlisle SE. The pickup sped away.Ray had been shot twice in the upper chest with a .380-caliber gun. A witness told police that she heard someone calling for help. She went outside to Sedillo's car and asked him if he knew who shot him. He mumbled something, but the witness couldn't understand it. Sedillo did manage to tell the witness that his name was Ray. That was it. Ray was taken to the hospital shortly thereafter and was pronounced dead.

Drugs and Addiction

No one knows exactly why Ray was driving around the Southeast Heights at 4 a.m. that day. But there are some good guesses.When police officers told Odelia Sedillo later that day that her son had been murdered and where he had been murdered, she told them that he was addicted to crack cocaine and that she had occasionally followed him to the area near Thaxton and Carlisle SE, where she believed he bought drugs.Her son fought the addiction for years, Sedillo says. But it always seemed to win. She hopes that if anything comes out of Ray's case it is that people will recognize how destructive and addicting crack cocaine is."My son was addicted to crack cocaine for eight years," Sedillo says. "But the fact that my son was a drug addict [isn't justification for] someone to murder him. He had two lives. A family life and his job, and drugs. He was in and out of rehabs."He would binge. He would do it for two days straight and then not do it for two weeks. When he was on a binge, he would use as much [cocaine] as possible. He told me that he would wake up thinking about it and that he would go to bed thinking about it. That is the kind of hold this drug has on people."As Sedillo says, Ray tried repeatedly to break his addiction and to get off the drugs. His most recent attempt came when he checked himself into Memorial Hospital, just six days before he was murdered.Sedillo remembers the day."Ray called me at the office," she says. "He was admitted into Memorial. He said he did not want to live anymore. I told him that I needed him in my life."Ray's medical records from Memorial tell part of his battle with cocaine:"The patient used crack cocaine again this past week for approximately three days. He states that he became increasingly depressed and anxious and stated he felt increasingly hopeless. The patient states he feels very guilty about using cocaine again. He states that things in his life are generally going well."Ray was observed at the hospital for 24 hours and released.Sedillo said her son felt humiliated by his addiction. But she said his drug use was a very private matter. He binged by himself, not with groups of people, and he did it in his car in the hills in back of the airport and not at home."It was his addiction. It was his humiliation. He was embarrassed," Sedillo says.But addiction or not, Ray was a human being, and he was her son."I am not ashamed of my child, and I am not ashamed that he had an addiction," Sedillo says. "I am very proud of what he accomplished in life."

The Investigation

Perhaps there is nothing that police can do in the immediate aftermath of a homicide to totally please the victim's family. The survivors want suspects, arrests and convictions.But Sedillo says that in the beginning, police didn't seem to be doing an adequate job of investigating the case.She feels that the initial detective on the case, Scott Kenna, wasn't pursuing the proper leads. She says that Kenna suggested that Ray might have been a peeping tom. She also feels that police might not have given the case top priority because they suspected it involved drugs. Kenna did not return her phone calls about the case, Sedillo says.Kenna also did not return a Weekly Alibi phone call.Sedillo feels that she has had to do some of APD's legwork. In the days after the shooting, her husband, Ramon, was out taking pictures of tire skid marks from Ray's car as well as pictures of the bullet-riddled car. And Odelia Sedillo has spent hours--sometimes at 3 a.m.--following white Chevy pickup trucks and cruising the neighborhood where Ray was killed.Sedillo and her daughter, Stephanie Martinez, think that some leads should have been followed. First, they say that Ray always bought drugs from people he knew. He did not buy from strangers. Ray carried a pager. He had it on him the morning he was killed. Perhaps it could have been checked for phone numbers. Although Ray rarely took a wallet with him, he had one on April 7, and his drivers license was missing from it.And Sedillo thinks the police might not be acting on the biggest lead of all. She says she has a prime suspect in the case, nicknamed Cricket. He is a man who is being held in Silver City in connection with the Dec. 26, 1997, murder of 14-year-old Joe Lucero. A second man has already been convicted in connection with that murder.Cricket is awaiting trial on 19 counts in connection with the Lucero murder, including accessory to depraved mind murder.But the new detective on the case, Carla Gandara, says she has interviewed Cricket."I have told Mrs. Sedillo that he was very adamant that he was not involved," Gandara said.Gandara inherited the case from Kenna. She too is frustrated that there are no good leads in the case, even though it has been featured on Crime Stoppers and even though flyers with Ray's photo have recently been put in the area near the killing."It is very difficult when you pick up a case that you have not been involved with from the beginning," Gandara says. "I have a good working relationship with Mrs. Sedillo. I am very open. I think she knows there is a possibility that her son's murder may not be solved."The case is active. I have had to start from the beginning and had to interview people all over again. We have put it on Crime Stoppers. We have put up flyers in the neighborhood. We have put up flyers in businesses that he [Ray] frequented, even in certain bars, and I have not had a response. It is very frustrating. It is very frustrating because you know there is somebody out there who knows."Sedillo says she has had a good relationship with Gandara. She and the detective talk several times a week about the case. But that relationship can be strained.Two weeks ago, Sedillo's niece had a conversation with a man about Ray's murder. The man mentioned Cricket. The niece found out where the man was staying. Sedillo called the detectives and suggested they interview the man. But, she says, they didn't seem too interested.Finally, Sedillo had to give the police an ultimatum:"I told her either they go or I go. I was willing to do it," Sedillo says, adding that police went to interview the man on May 2.

No Reparation

Shortly after the murder, Ray's widow, Laura, applied to the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission for benefits allowed victims of crime. The Commission can pay up to $20,000 for things like mental health counseling, funeral and burial expenses and loss of earnings.Laura applied, but on Oct. 3, 1998, she got a letter saying that the Commission couldn't pay out any claims in Ray's case.The letter was vague, saying only, "The purpose of the Crime Victims Reparation Act is stated in Section 31-22-2, which in part states, 'Implementation of the Crime Victims Reparation Act will promote the public health, welfare and safety of the citizens of New Mexico.'"Sedillo said that when she called the Commission to ask why her daughter-in-law's claim had been denied, she was told that it was because cocaine had been found in Ray's blood during the autopsy.Commission Director Larry Tackman said he couldn't comment on a specific case, but he did say that drugs and illegal activity do factor into the Commission's rules and decisions about paying claims.

Who Gets the Best?

In June 1998, Sedillo watched TV and read newspaper stories about the killing of a female Albuquerque police officer. She was struck by a quote from Police Chief Jerry Galvin that APD was putting its finest detectives on the case. Sedillo wondered why the same determination to find some killers didn't apply to her son's case."A month ago, one of the department's own was murdered, and the chief had the best of his force out there," Sedillo wrote on July 13, 1998, to Galvin. "Well, sir, we as survivors of homicide would also like that consideration. I want to go to bed at night knowing that these people are off the streets."

Dreams and Mental Replays

Dreams are crazy things. Not long before he was killed in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln dreamed about someone lying in a coffin in the White House. Two weeks before Ray was murdered, Odelia Sedillo had a dream that she now believes foretold Ray's death. In the dream, Ray was a little boy. His grandfather had come to the house to take him on an outing of some sort."I needed to dress him so he could go, and I could not find socks for him," Sedillo says. "So I finally found a long sock and a short sock, and that is what I put on him, but his granddad would not take him, so he stood at the window crying for his grandfather."Ray's grandfather was long dead at the time of Sedillo's dream. He died on April 7, 1976, of liver cancer."If I could have interpreted that dream, I might have been able to prevent Ray from going somewhere, or I would have known that Ray was going to die," Sedillo says. "It is too coincidental."The anguish of parents whose children have been murdered is really known only to them. Sedillo says that on some days that anguish will just creep up and consume her day. She will relive what she knows of the murder and try to imagine what her son went through."It goes over and over in your mind. It is just like a video camera," she says. "You relive what they must have gone through, the pain they must have felt, the fear they must have felt. It has been over a year now, and every once in a while it will creep up and hit me, and all I do is think about it all day."There are still no good leads in the case. But that won't stop Sedillo from following white pickups or from roaming the Southeast Heights looking for clues to Ray's murder. She says she has to for two reasons. The first is that she is a mother whose son was murdered. The second she sums up in one sentence:"Somebody out there killed. They probably did it before and they will probably do it again."

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