A year has passed since Edward Salas slipped through the roof of the jail with seven others and was secreted away in the trunk of a car.
But local authorities say time won’t affect their determination to bring Salas to justice.
The search has not stopped.
In fact it is alive and well and, “continuing very actively,” Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said.
“We are still receiving tips and information.”
Friday, the sheriff’s office received a half-inch thick stack of tips generated from the national television program America’s Most Wanted.
Salas, 25, is the last of eight who escaped from the jail last Aug. 24 to remain at large.
He may also be the most violent.
Salas was convicted in the killing of 10-year-old Carlos Perez of Clovis, who was shot in the head as he lay sleeping in his own bed.
“He’s (Salas) maintaining a very low profile (and) avoiding trouble and detection at all costs,” Waller said.
Waller said investigators still believe Salas is receiving help from family or friends to avoid detection.
Several tips have proven credible. Waller said there have been confirmed sightings, leading law enforcement to monitor several locations in the southwest and Mexico.
He declined to identify specific locations.
U.S. Marshals, Texas Rangers, Justice Department and other branches of law enforcement have been extremely helpful in carrying out the search in other regions, he said.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said his office recently completed an extradition agreement with Mexico. The new pact will enable Salas’ arrest and return to the U.S. in the event he is found in Mexico.
“This allows the United States government and foreign governments to work very closely together,” Chandler said.
The same process has been completed for the arrest of Noe Torres, Salas’ co-defendant, who has been on the run since Perez was shot and killed in September 2005.
Prosecutors say the actual target of the killing was Perez’ older brother, Ruben. They say Ruben Perez and Salas’ brother, Orlando Salas, got into and argument at Clovis High School.
Prosecutors say Salas recruited his older brothers Demetrio Salas and Edward Salas, who along with David Griego and Noe Torres began to search for Ruben Perez.
Police say the defendants found Ruben Perez’s apartment in Clovis and together fired nine gunshots into Carlos’ and Ruben’s bedroom window.
Although Ruben was unharmed, one bullet struck Carlos in the head.
Salas was one of the few among a group of eight inmates who had a plan to stay free after scaling pipes in a plumbing shaft and escaping through a small hole cut in the roof of the jail.
Investigators accuse Abundio Valdez and Velma Valdez, relatives by marriage, with helping Salas by providing him supplies. Abundio Valdez is also accused of transporting him and another inmate to Texas within an hour of the escape.
Waller said investigators believe once in Texas, Salas received further assistance, something being investigated by Texas authorities.
Police believe Torres is also hiding in Mexico. Torres has been on the run since being charged, police say.
Asked by the Clovis News Journal if Salas and Torres might be together, Chandler declined comment.
Prior to receiving international clearance, law enforcement was unable to search beyond U.S. borders for Salas or Torres.
“Law Enforcement including local law enforcement, state law enforcement, the Department of Justice and now even Mexican national authorities are committed to making sure that these individuals are apprehended and returned to New Mexico in order to allow the judicial process to further its course,” Chandler said.
“That commitment will remain steadfast until the mission is accomplished.”
Chandler said authorities are also continuing to get the word out.
Coverage by America’s Most Wanted — with half-a-dozen episodes mentioning Salas and Torres to-date — has helped generate tips and reaches audiences in 33 countries.
Waller said investigators have reason to believe Salas has gained weight since the escape and regularly changes facial hair, “In attempts to avoid detection or recognition.”
The 40-year-old’s happenstance capture the night of Aug. 24 alerted law enforcement to the escape of eight inmates from the jail.
Apodaca and another inmate were spotted just before 10 p.m. that night, running on 12th Street, wearing white T-shirts and orange jail pants. After a short chase on foot, police captured Apodaca.
Police began pressing jail officers for an inmate head count.
Within hours, an all-points alert was put out noting seven inmates with violent histories were unaccounted for and believed escaped.
Apodaca was awaiting trial, accused of kidnapping his girlfriend of two weeks.
Police said he kept the girl tied up in a closet with a dog collar strapped around her neck.
He was captured after a tense three-hour standoff, accused of cutting her face multiple times with a knife, then stabbing her in the neck with a syringe.
Police said he also stabbed her dog with a knife.
Apodaca has since pleaded guilty to kidnapping and aggravated assault charges. He was sentenced to 15 years.
After his capture, he also pleaded guilty to escape charges, tacking on another 2 1/2 years of prison time.
The 19-year-old was captured in Clovis outside Lowe’s supermarket on Dec. 8 after he was recognized by a citizen nearly four months after the escape.
Chavez was in jail on charges of burglary, larceny and extreme cruelty to an animal when he escaped. Police said during one of his burglaries he beat a dog inside the home.
When captured, he told investigators he had been hiding in Texas for most of the nearly four months after the escape.
Chavez is awaiting sentencing after reaching plea agreements for escape and his previous charges.
Acting on a tip, police found England, 30, on Oct. 13, hiding behind a bed in a Clovis apartment.
He was jailed, accused of tampering with evidence in a case against his childhood friend and fellow escapee Larry McClendon, who was accused of first-degree murder.
Police believe McClendon and England fled the jail and traveled together.
England’s mother, Hester England, and two other women, Robin Kirven and Samantha Wallace, were arrested for helping him and McClendon evade capture.
In June, England pleaded guilty in both cases. He is serving 4 1/2 years in prison.
Raynaldo Jeremy “Cartoon” Enriquez
A 20-year-old home invasion suspect with Clovis gang ties.
Enriquez was the accused ringleader of a group specializing in breaking down doors while homeowners slept, then terrorizing and robbing the occupants.
Police said during a two-week crime spree Enriquez and his gang hit eight homes in Clovis, Portales, Curry County, Roosevelt County and Muleshoe. Leaders of the gang usually pistol-whipped male occupants of the homes.
Enriquez' arrest was triggered by what police called an especially violent home invasion in an otherwise quiet neighborhood. Police said the gang shot multiple times at a terrorized victim fleeing down the street from his own home in the 1700 block of Sheldon.
Enriquez’s escape gave him a little more than 24 hours of freedom. He was captured Aug. 25 near Lubbock.
Enriquez later told investigators he did the bulk of the work cutting through the roof of the jail using a handmade tool.
Enriquez entered a plea agreement for the escape and some of the home invasion charges in June and is awaiting sentencing.
Several home invasion cases are still pending against him.
America’s Most Wanted played a pivotal role in McClendon’s capture Oct. 4 in Amarillo.
A tip from someone who recognized McClendon, 21, from a Most Wanted television segment alerted authorities.
McClendon was awaiting first-degree murder charges, accused in the 2007 shooting death of Clovis second-hand store owner Emmett Salisbury. Police said Salisbury was being robbed and money and drugs were the target.
McClendon pleaded guilty July 31 to second-degree murder and escape. He was sentenced to more than 17 years imprisonment.
The 27-year-old was captured in Albuquerque on Aug. 28 after tips originating in Curry County led law enforcement to the apartment complex where he was hiding.
Sotelo was in jail on aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and child abuse charges, accused of leading police on a high speed chase with his child in the car.
He has since pleaded guilty in the battery and escape cases. He is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Still at large
A 25-year-old convicted child-killer, Salas is the only escapee that has not been captured.
At the time of the escape, Salas was awaiting transfer to the Department of Corrections. He was sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 shooting death of 10-year-old Carlos Perez.
Police say Salas and three others shot nine bullets through the fifth-grader’s window while he slept. The dispute was with the victim's teenage brother.
Police believe after the escape Salas and Chavez were given supplies and transported to Texas in the trunk of a car driven by Velma Valdez and Abundio Valdez.
Abundio Valdez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years for his role in assisting Salas.
Velma Valdez, who is related to Salas by marriage, is awaiting trial.
Accused of shooting at his wife in front of her five children.
Zapata, 20, was among a group of five —including an accused murderer — to slip out of Pod 1 and escape.
He was captured Aug. 25 by federal marshals in Cactus, Texas, a town of about 2,500 some 13 miles north of Dumas.
In March, Zapata pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence for escape and under a plea agreement received a year in prison for aggravated assault against his wife.