Crime spree suspect tied to massage spa killing

·6 min read

Mar. 8—Days before Raphael Marquez allegedly broke into three homes, stole four vehicles and briefly kidnapped three women over the course of several hours in late February, police say he killed an employee of a massage business during an armed robbery.

Marquez, 31, was killed by two Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies and a New Mexico State Police officer after a pursuit in Valencia County on Feb. 25. At the time State Police said he was the person of interest in multiple homicides and was wanted on warrants.

Details of that shooting, and whether Marquez was armed at the time he was shot, have not been released.

On Tuesday, police announced they have enough evidence to connect him to the fatal shooting of a woman at the Canna Spa Massage near Coors and Los Volcanes NW on Feb. 15. That homicide was the second at an Asian-owned massage business over the course of a month.

"This isn't just a crime that affected individual family and friends of the individual, but it's a crime that affected a whole community," said Chief Harold Medina in a news conference. "I'm glad that we've been able to solve the second of these cases that have struck our community in the last year. And it's unfortunate this individual won't stand justice because obviously he's deceased."

The victim has not been publicly identified because police say they are working with the State Department to find and contact her family.

"We will not be in a rush to release any victim information until I feel comfortable we know that everybody is where they need to be in terms of notification," Medina said. "So it may be some time. ... We're also taking into consideration that there is a family behind this death that suffered a loss and I want to make sure we do this right."

Security camera footage

On the night of Feb. 15 police were called to the Canna Spa Massage for reports of a robbery that had happened earlier in the night. When they arrived they found a woman of Chinese descent had been killed.

Security camera footage from inside the business showed a man wearing a black baseball cap, a gaiter over his face and a sleeve to cover arm tattoos calmly gathering items from the office while a woman lies motionless in a doorway. A gun can be seen on the man's waistband and he's holding a lockbox or briefcase.

Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said they believe that man was Marquez.

He said that after police released security camera stills of the man and of the truck he was believed to have been driving, a member of the public tipped them off on where the truck was. Inside that truck they found a DVR system from the business with the cords cut in the back.

An APD spokesman said that was a security camera system and investigators initially wanted the offender to believe he wasn't caught on video because he had taken the DVR.

"We could also see on some of the recovered video that our suspect was touching different objects that we believe were still inside the business," Hartsock said.

He said the crime lab was able to get fingerprints off the items inside the business and compare them to the ones in the truck, and they all matched Marquez.

"Based on the video, the other types of crimes that Mr. Marquez was involved in, including the quite a long night that he put several victims through just after this and the police chase, we feel very confident he is our only person of interest," Hartsock said.

Marquez is also a person of interest in the killing of 32-year-old David Brown, who was found dead in a vehicle on Ortiz, near San Mateo and Zuni SE on Dec. 24.

Hartsock said they believe that homicide also started as a robbery, but they aren't going to release more information on it yet because they're still trying to talk to other people.

The same day that police filed an arrest warrant charging Marquez in an hours-long crime spree, he was shot by law enforcement who were looking for him in Valencia County.

Marquez was also the suspect in two other home burglaries and had recently been charged with stealing a woman's purse from a hotel.

"I watch how calm and collected he is walking in there," Medina said, referencing the video from the Canna Spa Massage. "It makes me wonder what else has he been involved in? So in a way we were robbed as a community of being able to get more answers to what he had done."

Second homicide at a massage business

The Canna Spa Massage homicide was the second killing at a massage business in the course of about three weeks.

On Jan. 24, 45-year-old Sihui Fang, the owner of Wonderful Massage on Menaul near San Pedro NE was shot and killed during another attempted robbery.

Police say Jorge Rivera-Ramirez, 18, and Juan Carlos Hernandez, 19, shot her as many as 10 times as she fired back, wounding Rivera-Ramirez. The two have been arrested and charged with murder.

The pair have since been charged with four additional counts of armed robbery and conspiracy in Dec. 10 and 14 incidents where police say they stole phones, jewelry, cash and a translation device. The details of those cases have not been released and APD spokespeople have not responded to requests for incident reports.

At Tuesday's news conference, Mayor Tim Keller warned suspects that they can't get away with a crime against immigrants or immigrant-owned businesses.

"We will use every effort in our department and every resource that we have to do that," Keller said. "And this is an example of that — you will not get away with these crimes."

Medina said officers don't care if a victim has a business license or is here legally.

"Our officers care about the crime, the victim that you are, and the fact that we want to take individuals into custody who victimized you," he said.

Kristelle Siarza, volunteer executive director of the Asian Business Collaborative, said the victim in this case did not speak English and she pushed for better interpretation services and for officers to proactively investigate "small crimes that have turned into homicides."

"We are still incredibly grieving, and hearing about the loss from families and friends," Siarza said. "This was somebody's employee, this was somebody's friend, this was somebody's daughter and mother. And so we are incredibly heartbroken about this murder."

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