Lena Aragon Barrett, 65, was found dead inside her home in Roy around 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 20. Norman Tyrell Cates, 17, was arrested later that evening and charged with Barrett’s slaying, according to Deputy Chief Richard Newman of New Mexico State Police.
“Based on the evidence at the scene it appeared the victim had been beaten, strangled and stabbed,” Newman said.
Harding County Sheriff Fred GIft said he knows both the victim and the suspect and their respective families.
“This is the only murder that has happened in Roy since I’ve been sheriff. I’ve been sheriff since 1998,” he said. “I wouldn’t ever have imagined seeing something like this in Roy.”
Gift said the woman’s body was found in her bedroom.
“There was sign of a struggle,” said Gift. “It’s a real tragic thing to happen in such a small town of only about 260 people. Everybody in town is all shook up.”
Gift said members of the criminal investigation section of the state police determined that evidence at the crime scene indicated Cates as a suspect. He said Undersheriff Trubert Flowers went to Cates’ residence in Roy and transported him to the police department there.
“He was questioned by New Mexico State Police investigators and charged later that evening,” Gift said. “Undersheriff Flowers then transported the suspect to the Quay County Detention Center juvenile facility.”
Gift said more than a dozen Roy residents have been questioned by investigators and some continue to be interviewed.
Lena Aragon Barrett was born in Mosquero in 1939 and was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Roy. Her sister, Anna Griego, resides in Tucumcari.
Assistant district attorney Nancy English said prosecutors will decide soon, possibly by Jan. 3 whether Cates will be tried as an adult. He has been charged with an open count of murder and is being held in the Quay County Juvenile Detention Center, District Court Clerk Lina Weisdorfer said.
Roy lies 60 north of Tucumcari on New Mexico 39 northwest of Logan.