By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff
A fugitive wanted in connection with the shooting death of a 9-year-old Clovis boy more than a year ago has been spotted in New Mexico recently, area law enforcement officials said.
In response, Curry County Crime Stoppers officials more than doubled the reward for information leading to the capture of Noe Torres to $2,500, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.
Torres, 27, is being sought in connection with the September 2005 death of Carlos Perez, who was struck in the head by a bullet while sleeping. Police believe Torres fled to Mexico in the days following the shooting.
Torres, who should be considered armed and dangerous, the release said, was indicted on charges of first-degree murder in October 2005.
Police received reports he was spotted Tuesday at a home in Clovis near Horn and Manana streets, according to the district attorney’s office.
State police were able to positively identify Torres after they encountered him and a family member at Santa Rosa Hospital on Dec. 1, a press release from the district attorney’s office said.
He ran during the encounter, avoiding arrest, 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said.
He was also sighted Dec. 10 in Albuquerque and around Thanksgiving in Clovis at a car wash on Llano Estacado Boulevard, the release said.
In the spring, federal marshals obtained a federal warrant on Torres for flight to avoid prosecution.
“We are positive that he will be captured soon,” Chandler said. “We want to encourage him to turn himself, but in one way or another he will be captured,” he said.
Senior investigator Dan Aguilar of the district attorney’s office is the lead agent in the case. He said Torres is the missing piece to his case.
“He thinks he can run forever, but we’re going to catch him. If he chooses to cooperate, he can fill in a lot of answers that we don’t have yet. But that’s going to be up to him,” Aguilar said.
Four people have been arrested and charged with the slaying to date: brothers Edward, 22, Demetrio, 21, and Orlando Salas, 16, and David Griego, 30.
Orlando Salas accepted a plea agreement in May and was sentenced as a juvenile to five years in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department. Upon completion he will be paroled, officials have said.
The other three are still in custody at the Curry County Adult Detention Center awaiting a joint jury trial scheduled for March.
Aguilar said Torres has extensive ties to Clovis through friends and family.
“I’ve always thought it was just a matter of time that he would come back — we’ve gotten close a couple of times and the longer he’s out there, the more careless I think he’s going to be.”