Homicide victim believed to be Tucumcari truck driver

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Law enforcement had blocked roads to traffic approximately one mile in each direction from the intersection of Sugarbeet Road and State Road 523 on Thursday morning after police discovered a dead adult male in a ditch.

CNJ staff writer: Sharna Johnson

Investigators believe a homicide victim found in eastern Curry County on Thursday morning is a 51-year-old truck driver from Tucumcari.

But officers are hesitant to conclusively identify Ronnie Ernest Hittson as Thursday’s victim, Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said, until a full investigation is performed by medical examiners.

“At the time we began inquiring about (Ron Hittson), it was determined that his whereabouts were unknown,” Waller said.

“We’ve tentatively identified this individual as Ron Hittson but to be 100 percent sure, we are waiting for the autopsy results to get an identification of this individual.”

Simultaneous to identifying the victim, Waller said investigators are working on possible suspects in the slaying.

“We do have persons of interest that we are following up on as we speak,” he said around 10 p.m. Thursday.

The Major Crimes Unit, a consortium of law enforcement officers from several local departments, was activated upon discovery of the body and is assisting the sheriff’s office in the investigation, Waller said.

Police records show a truck driver called 911 just before 7 a.m. Thursday to report a possibly unconscious male lying in the ditch southeast of State Road 523 and Sugarbeet Road.

As of mid-morning, law enforcement had blocked off roads to traffic a mile in each direction of the scene. The city’s mobile command unit and other area law enforcement vehicles could be seen parked near a white, sheet-covered body just off the shoulder of State Road 523.

By early afternoon, traffic had returned to normal at the busy intersection and all that remained was a rounded depression in the grass soaked in blood.

The body has been transported to Albuquerque and an autopsy is planned for first thing this morning, Waller said.

Law enforcement is also looking to medical investigators to determine the victim’s cause of death, Waller said.

Waller confirmed a semi-truck belonging to Hittson was found on Mabry Drive in Clovis on Thursday and has been processed for evidence.

District attorney Matt Chandler said representatives from his office have been in contact with members of Hittson’s family as part of the investigation.

“Ron Hittson is missing (and) we’re working to see if this is the individual that we have found. … All signs are pointing to the fact that it could be their loved one.”

Hittson’s friends and family said they are shocked at the possibility of the father of two’s death.

Sarah Hittson, Ron Hittson’s sister-in-law, said a representative from District Attorney Matt Chandler’s office notified the family.

“We are in shock. It’s really horrible,” Sarah Hittson said.

Anyone with information can contact the Curry County Sheriff’s Office at 769-2335 or can remain anonymous by calling Curry County Crime Stoppers at 763-7000.

Quay County Sun Associate Publisher Chelle Delaney contributed to this report.