Suspect may have used Newmans’ debit bank card.
By David Stevens: CNJ Editor
David Sanders will never understand why anyone would want to harm Odis or Doris Newman.
“They were the kind of people that would open the door to anybody,” he said. “They figured if somebody knocked on their door, they needed something, so they were there for them.”
The Newmans, long-time operators of Valley Electric in Portales, have been missing since Wednesday. Human remains were found in the trunk of their car on Thursday morning. Law-enforcement officials have not identified the remains, but friends and family fear the worst.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said Sunday that officials hope to have preliminary autopsy results in the next 48 hours, which could identify the bodies. medical investigators have requested dental records, he said.
Chandler said state police are following up on a “handful” of calls to a crime stoppers line, but no suspects had been arrested by Sunday night.
Sanders, a Roosevelt County Commissioner, said the Newmans came to Roosevelt County in the late 1950s, where they opened an electric shop on the north side of town.
“They were good, honest people and they built that shop into a large business,” Sanders said. “They went from starters and generators to electric motors and up to large electric motors and when the sprinkler business got started in Roosevelt County, Odis began to handle (sprinkler systems).”
Sanders said the Newmans retired about eight years ago, and their daughter and son-in-law run the business now.
He said the community is stunned at the events of last week.
“I know the man (Odis Newman) well,” Sanders said. “If anybody in Roosevelt County didn’t like him, they didn’t know him. He was so fair in business. … He wasn’t the kind of man who would sue somebody when they didn’t pay him — he would just write it off. There’s no telling how many dollars he wrote off when people wouldn’t pay.”
Floyd McAlister, the county’s agriculture extension agent, echoed Sanders’ sentiments.
“Odis was a fellow that was easy to get along with,” McAlister said. “I never knew of anybody that spoke harshly of him. He was a very hard-working, dedicated individual and a good neighbor.”
McAlister said Doris Newman worked alongside her husband at Valley Electric until they retired about eight years ago.
Sanders said the Newmans provided jobs for numerous youth through the years, including his two sons.
“These were the kind of people that we will have fond memories of for the rest of our lives,” Sanders said. “We can live off those memories forever.”
Roosevelt County timeline
10:15 p.m. Wednesday: Officials said a car similar to one belonging to Odis and Doris Newman was at ACCESSBANK in Portales, where someone attempted to use a debit card that belonged to the Newmans. A bank camera captured a photo of a man who may have used the debit card, District Attorney Matt Chandler said. He declined to say if the debit card has been used since then.
8 a.m. Thursday: Firefighters were called to a car fire southeast of Portales, where human remains were found in the trunk. The car may have been the same one seen at ACCESSBANK on Wednesday night.
3 p.m. Thursday: Firefighters were called to the Newmans’ home at Roosevelt Road 4 Lane. Officials said the house fire started in the kitchen. Officials have not released the amount of damage, but the home appeared to have sustained minimal structural damage.
4:45 p.m. Thursday: A blue Ford pickup belonging to the Newmans was seen at an Allsup’s convenience store at 14th Street and Avenue D. Chandler said he believes a suspect connected to the deaths and fires was driving the pickup, which was later found abandoned in Portales.
The latest: The human remains from the car have been sent to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque.
Evidence was gathered from the car fire, house fire and pickup. Officials would not discuss what kind of evidence they found, but Chandler said the evidence has led law-enforcement to seek “persons of interest” in connection with the case.