By David Stevens
He was 8 or 9 years old when he left a grandmother’s house in Missouri and came to live with foster parents in Tucumcari.
A year or so after he moved in, Mike and Sue Day adopted the boy.
“He was well behaved,” Mike Day said. “He was just like our other adopted son. He went fishing with me, hunting, camping. He did chores around the house … he’d do dishes, clean up the yard, just regular chores.”
Young Tony Day was always respectful of Mike and his wife Sue, Mike said. School officials told the same story — a good student, an athlete, seldom involved in trouble and never anything serious.
And so the events alleged to have occurred shortly before midnight on Nov. 26, 2012, stunned not just the Day family, but everyone who knew them.
Mike Day said he and Sue were awakened by their son Scott, who reported Tony, then 14, had stabbed and killed his sister, Sherry Folts.
“We went looking for Tony,” Mike said. “I went outside, (Sue) went to the back door.”
Moments later, Mike said he heard a gunshot. He ran back to the house.
“I saw Sue running down the hall with blood coming out of her and he (Tony) was running behind her.”
Scott grabbed the gun from his brother and hit him with it, Scott told police, ending the violence.
Through it all, Mike Day said, Tony “was pretty calm.”
And he offered little explanation.
“He said he wanted to be free. He didn’t like the rules around the house,” Mike Day said.
Both women were dead by the time police arrived and Tony admitted guilt, Mike Day said. Court records show Tony confessed to stabbing his sister, then “blacked out.”
Seventeen months later, Tony Day is being held in an Albuquerque adolescent center, awaiting trial. Attorneys today are wrangling over everything from whether Tony can be tried/sentenced as an adult to whether he should be allowed to attend “field trips” as part of a treatment program that may or may not help authorities understand what led to the shocking behavior described by the Days.
Mike Day, who moved to Los Lunas soon after the deaths, said he doesn’t know much about Tony’s history prior to his coming to Tucumcari. He believes he’d been in “two or three” foster homes and had fallen out of favor with his grandmother.
“She said she couldn’t stand him,” is how Mike Day remembers their conversation.
Tony seemed unable to control his bowels and “Grandma said he was always mean to animals,” Mike Day said.
After coming to Tucumcari, Tony confided to the Days that he’d been sexually abused as a young child. “We don’t know if it’s true,” Mike Day said.
He said he never saw any animal abuse, or any warning signs to suggest Tony could be violent toward anyone.
We may never know the demons Tony Day has had to fight in his young life, and it may be months or even years before the courts decide where he will spend his adulthood.
Some might argue that a serious rehabilitation program — even if that includes “field trips” as alleged by critics — is a good idea. If Tony is guilty of the killings as described and sentenced as a juvenile, he likely will be released into society when he turns 21. It’s in everyone’s best interest for him to be mentally healthy before that.
Mike Day’s had no contact with his son since the slayings, and he has no interest in speaking to him. He said he’s not opposed to attempts at rehabilitation, but that needs to happen inside the “prison system.”
“He shouldn’t be allowed out,” Mike Day said, “if my wife and daughter can’t be allowed out of their graves.”
David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc., which includes the Clovis News Journal. Contact him at: