Questions remain after 2 murdered in Monte Vista

10:25 PM, Feb 15, 2012   |    comments
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Fifty-four-year-old John Salazar and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Sara Beasley, were shot and killed at their home Monday morning.

"It's a horrific, horrific act," Needham said.

Beasley died inside the house, Salazar on the front lawn, and Beasley's three young boys were inside the home at the time of the shootings.

"They went through a horrible event. Their mother was killed," Needham said.

Police say there are few clues in the case, with the only real description of the suspect coming from the oldest boy. He is a 9-year-old who told police the shooter was an overweight person around 5 feet 7 inches tall, dressed in black and wearing a black ski mask.

Some think the crime was motivated by drugs given the home was sprayed with graffiti reading: "My drugs R not free."

"There is a drug reference. Whether or not that had anything to do with this case, we don't know yet," Needham said.

Valley Publishing Editor Sylvia Lobato is covering the story and says she thinks a drug connection is unlikely.

"That may have been spray painted as a diversionary tactic," Lobato said.

She says Salazar was well respected around Monte Vista. For the past three decades, he worked as a janitor at a local school.

"He was a custodian at the elementary school. The kids loved him, the staff loved him," Lobato said.

Since the shootings, a memorial of flowers and pictures has been built in front of Salazar's home from a community on edge.

Two days after the shootings, residents called police reporting a man was shooting a rifle at cars. After surrounding a city block, authorities found it was only a man with a B.B. gun practicing in his backyard.

Given the drug-related message, Needham says he understands people want action.

"An event like this is certainly going to spark fear here in the community, heighten awareness and a call for action," Needham said.

He says if drugs did play a part in the murders, it's part of a larger problem with drugs now seen as a more accepted which Needham says has made his job a lot harder in recent years.

"I think crimes that are associated with drugs, burglaries, forgeries, and murders are going to increase over time," Needham said.

In the meantime, those three boys are in protective services as Needham and his department continue to work to find leads in the murder of two well-respected people in the small community.

"That's a tragedy. It's a horrible tragedy. It's uncalled for. There's nothing that I can think of that would justify this," Needham said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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