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Roswell teacher brutalized, autopsy shows; Body found near Vaughn sustained head injuries 24 hours prior to discovery

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Maria Aragon

A Roswell teacher killed in early March suffered a brutal death, an autopsy indicates.

Maria Elena Tilton Aragon, 49, considered by family and friends to be a caring and compassionate person, an involved church member and a devoted educator, was beaten, stabbed and strangled, according to the official report by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator.
Aragon had been found off the side of the U.S. Highway 285 near Vaughn in De Baca County March 6, a Monday morning. She had been reported missing by her husband, Castulo Aragon Jr., about 11:30 p.m. March 5.
A Roswell Police Department spokesman said in March that the husband had reported that Maria Aragon had texted him at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday to tell him that she was going on a walk. He said that he had not seen her since.
New Mexico State Police searched the home that Aragon and her husband shared on West Alameda Avenue at least twice, both times shortly after the murder.
The husband said during an interview at his home following the second search that he knew of no reason why Aragon would have been in the Vaughan area that day. He talked of his love for his wife, saying that they had planned a first-anniversary trip to Cancun, Mexico, for April.
He also said that, at that time, he had not been told details about his wife’s death. He could not be reached for comment by press time.
According to the autopsy report issued May 16, medical examiners concluded that Aragon had sustained injuries “over a period of time” and said that head injuries showed signs that were “indicative” of having been sustained 24 hours prior to death.
In addition to being struck in the head, Aragon was stabbed several times, including twice in the chest, and was strangled. The report concludes that the strangulation most likely occurred by hand.
Having earned a master’s degree, Aragon was a longtime teacher with the Roswell Independent School District and the New Mexico School of the Deaf. She also taught Spanish at the Roswell Adult and Recreation Center and was active in Grace Community Church.
Aragon’s survivors include her husband and teenage son of Roswell, as well as parents, a brother and other relatives in Mexico, where she grew up.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.