Patricio Pacheco’s killer may have had a few drinks with him before bludgeoning the 40-year-old Santa Fe man.
Police reported finding several empty beer cans in Pacheco’s Agua Fría Street apartment, where his body sat slumped on a couch 29 years ago Monday, a bloody claw hammer nearby.
Pacheco’s wallet was still in his pocket. There were no signs of a burglary or struggle. And it did not appear his killer forced his way into the home, police said.
Nearly three decades later, the case remains a mystery but police hope new technology will help them figure out who wielded the hammer used to kill Pacheco.
The cold case is just one of several that investigators from the Santa Fe Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit are revisiting. Members of the unit have gathered evidence from homicides in the 1980s that were never subjected to forensic tests that developed years later as DNA science advanced.
Detective Tony Trujillo said tests revealed DNA on the hammer that does not belong to Pacheco.
“Now, we have something to match,” he said. “It puts somebody at the scene.”
But new forensic evidence alone will not crack the case, Trujillo added.
Investigators are setting out to interview old suspects who may match the mystery DNA profile, Trujillo said. And detectives are still hoping for a break from witnesses.
Family members found Pacheco’s body at about 7 p.m. June 13, 1987, a Saturday, when they went to his home after unsuccessful attempts to contact him.
Relatives said his mother became concerned because she had not seen him for two days. Family members told reporters at the time that he used to visit her daily.
Pacheco could often be found at his mother’s home when not working at the family business, Owl’s Liquors on Hickox Street, or at another liquor store where he had a second job.
Though he had a large family — five brothers, two sisters, 36 nieces and nephews — neighbors and relatives also described Pacheco as keeping to himself.
Pacheco was married for a time several years before his death but had lived alone in his apartment at 452 Agua Fría St. for seven years. His death stunned and scared neighbors.
Police initially released few details of their investigation.
No suspects were immediately identified, nor was a motive, according to news reports from the time.
While Pacheco’s death made the front page of The New Mexican two days in a row and was noted as the city’s first homicide of 1987, the police investigation quickly faded from the headlines.
Pacheco’s name popped up occasionally with mention of the city’s cold cases and there were sporadic developments but none led to charges.
An interest in applying relatively new forensic tests to evidence from old cases led the Violent Crimes Unit to begin re-examining the case approximately two years ago, Trujillo said.
As yet another anniversary of the killing passes, police are still hoping for a break from a tipster.
Though the forensic evidence has given police a new piece of information to work with, Detective Jimmie Montoya said a lot of work remains, such as finding and interviewing persons of interest from the initial investigation.
“There are some witnesses we’d wished the initial detectives had looked into a little bit further,” he said. “There have been some statements made we’d like to corroborate.”
Police maintain the case is solvable, though.
“Believe it or not, people do call. A lot of people don’t forget these things,” Trujillo said. “Maybe there was somebody who didn’t talk with the initial investigators. That’s the person we want a phone call from. The person who says ‘I was going to call, but I didn’t think it was important.’ ”
Police ask anyone with information about Pacheco’s death to call Trujillo at 505-690-6850 or Montoya at 505-795-3371.
Contact Andrew Oxford at 505-986-3093 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @andrewboxford.