Police: Tucumcari suspect has history of violence, illness

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico

TUCUMCARI — The man arrested Wednesday in connection with the slaying of a Tucumcari motel worker has a history of violence and mental illness, a state police officer said.

James Benuska, 39, being held in the Quay County Detention Center, is charged with an open count of murder in the death of Nancy Archibeque, 60, a night clerk at the Microtel Inn, State Police Sgt. Andrew Tingwall said.

Benuska has previous arrests on domestic violence charges, and a history of mental illness, Tingwall said.

He was riding with his father from Arizona to Florida in a recreational vehicle when the two men got into an argument, Tingwall said. The father flagged down an officer from the Department of Transportation.

“James didn’t want to ride with his dad,” Tingwall said, so the DOT officer took him to the Tucumcari bus station.

Benuska then got a room at the Microtel, which is across the street from the bus station.

Benuska disagreed with hotel management about which room he was getting, Tingwall said. And he was described as talking to himself and “acting odd” by motel workers on duty before Archibeque began her shift at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Tingwall said.

On Wednesday, Benuska was arrested as he was heading out of town toward Interstate 40, Tingwall said.

Earlier that day, Benuska had tried to solicit rides out of town, Tingwall said.