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DA Office: Working to resolve 20-year-old case; Officials say they are aiming to bring murder suspect back to Chaves County

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Twenty years after the discovery of the body of a Roswell man near Bottomless Lake State Park and after decades of investigation by law enforcement agencies, sources have indicated that authorities are working on bringing the suspect to the court’s jurisdiction but cannot divulge specifics.

Hector Dominguez was charged in a 2000 warrant with the murder of Edward Raymond Sanchez in September 1997. They have been searching for him since. James Hallinan, an aide with the New Mexico Attorney’s General Office, said that his office has spoken with the District Attorney’s office about its willingness to help with extradition, if necessary. Dianna Luce, 5th District Judicial District Attorney, said her office is actively working on the case.

“Our office understands this case needs to be brought forward in order for there to be justice,” said Luce. “We are doing what we can to make sure that happens.”

Dominguez is the only person who has been charged in the cold case. In addition to murder, he was charged with three other counts: assault with a deadly weapon, battery with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence.

Hector Dominguez, shown in a photo from the late 1990s when he was in his 20s. He would be 41 or older now. (Submitted Photo)

Dominguez was thought to have fled the area shortly after the murder, probably to Chihuahua, Mexico, where he had family. Law enforcement said he also was thought to have visited family in Colorado as well as Roswell from time to time.

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According to a criminal complaint filed in 2000, Dominguez was one of three men with Sanchez on the night of Sept. 17, the last time his wife, Monica Sanchez, saw him alive. Sanchez left their house that afternoon saying he was giving a friend a ride to the grocery store. His widow reported him missing to police the next day when he did not return home. Chaves County Sheriff’s deputies and Roswell police later learned that Sanchez had stayed for a while that night at the house of the friend, Tony Gonzales, while the two men and some friends had a few beers. At some point that evening, they were joined by two others, Dominguez and someone Sanchez had been buddies with since childhood, Gonzalo Bonilla.

At about midnight, according to witnesses, Dominguez, Bonilla, Gonzalez and Sanchez decided to leave the house and go for a ride to Bottomless Lakes.

The criminal complaint alleges that Gonzales told law enforcement that all four got out of the car on River Road to urinate and that Dominguez asked Sanchez to give him the gun he was carrying and that Sanchez complied. The witness said Dominguez began shooting near Sanchez’s feet and then shot him once in the head. He then left the scene briefly and returned a while later to shoot him again, the criminal complaint alleges.

Sanchez’s body was discovered in a ditch near River Road on Sept. 20, 1997. An autopsy would discover two different types of bullets in the body, including one consistent with the gun Sanchez owned.

“This was a cold-blooded murder,” said Sheriff Britt Snyder in a 2016 interview, “simple as that.”

Asked Thursday morning about the case, Snyder declined to give details about the case, citing a need to protect any information that might have been obtained.

Sanchez’s widow, Monica— she has since remarried, taken a different last name and moved from the state — said in 2016 that she doesn’t think that Sanchez, her husband of less than a year, had been killed because of drugs or money. She explained that he wasn’t using illegal drugs at that time in his life and would not have been involved with them willingly. The autopsy found no traces of illegal drugs.

Monica Sanchez could not say what exactly would have been the motivation, but she knew that Bonilla and her husband had a rocky relationship at some point during their lives and she said that they had been involved in a serious dispute days before the murder, a disagreement that had obviously disturbed her husband.

Monica Sanchez and Lila Sanchez, sister of the victim, have described the victim as a shy person with a good heart. They said he was the type of person who would go out of his way for others, fixing their cars or spending time with relatives’ kids, urging them to stay in school.

Dominguez, who is believed by officials to have been born in June 1976 but has given his birthdate as 1974 at times, also has used several aliases over the years, according to authorities. The U.S. Marshals’ Service indicates in an online “wanted” posting that he also sometimes goes by Armando Dominguez or Hector Armando Dominguez. Press reports have stated that he sometimes has called himself Dillon Green or Dillon White.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.