A 14-year-old boy is accused of killing both his adopted mom and sister in their Tucumcari home late Monday before another adopted son tackled him, possibly saving the lives of an infant and others who were in the home.
The mother, Sue Day, 67, was a foster mom who has taken in between 80 and 100 children over the past seven years.
Tony Day, 14, faces murder charges in the deaths of Day and her biological daughter, Sherry Folts, 49. According to State Police, Tony Day admitted stabbing Folts and shooting Sue Day. He is incarcerated at the Quay County Juvenile Detention Center.
Children Youth and Families Department spokesman Enrique Knell said Sue Day and her husband would take in kids even in the middle of the night.
"They were a couple we could always rely on. We could call them at 2 o'clock in the morning when we had an emergency and needed to place a child in foster care," he said.
The Days adopted Tony three or four years ago, he said.
Tony Day had been a foster child in the child welfare system prior to his adoption, Knell said. Knell said he knew of no behavioral issues with Tony Day. Children are placed in foster care because of some sort of abuse or neglect at home, he said.
New Mexico State Police responded to a call of shots fired at about 11:30 p.m. Monday at the family's mobile home on the outskirts of Tucumcari, a town of about 5,000 people, 200 miles east of Albuquerque. They discovered the bodies of Day and Folts inside the residence, according to a news release from State Police.
Tony Day was identified as a suspect on scene and taken to a State Police office.
Knell said that an older adopted child may have prevented more violence.
"The older child basically acted very heroically and tackled his younger adopted brother and actually knocked out his two front teeth in trying to subdue him," Knell said. "In doing so, he saved the life of the father in the home, a 9-month-old baby in the home and his own life."
The baby, who is part of the foster care system, was taken into CYFD custody Monday night and placed in another foster home.
"These types of incidents are incredibly rare and isolated within our foster home system," Knell said.
The last time a child in a New Mexico foster home faced similar charges was in 2001 in Clovis, when then 16-year-old Arnell VanDuyne pleaded guilty to killing his 41-year-old adopted mother by bludgeoning her to death with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 21 years.
Two teenage girls accused of murdering their foster mother in Hondo Valley in June 2011 were not part of the child welfare system. They are still awaiting trial.