New Mexico police say man visited lawyer to say he killed 2; bodies found where he said

By Sue Major Holmes, AP
Friday, March 12, 2010

NM police: Man visits lawyer to say he killed 2

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It wasn’t the kind of call police get very often — a lawyer informing them a man walked into her office and told her he had killed two people the previous day and was turning himself in. He also said where the bodies could be found.

The story of the bodies — told Monday to attorney Lauren Oliveros — turned out to be true. And the man, Ralph Montoya, 37, was out on bail on charges he attacked the two victims weeks earlier, and had a history of violence against women.

According to a criminal complaint, Oliveros called police after the visit by Montoya. Two detectives were sent to her office, and other officers were dispatched to a house. One officer looked through the front window and spotted two bodies on the floor.

Detectives arrested Montoya, who is in jail on two counts of murder in the deaths of his former girlfriend, Bernalillo High School teacher Stefania Gray, 43, and her boyfriend, University of New Mexico English professor Hector Torres, 54. Gray also was a UNM graduate student.

The officers at Torres’ house kicked in the back door. They reported that Torres’ body had a handgun in the left hand, pointed at his head. One officer said the handgun appeared to have been placed there.

Weeks earlier, on Jan. 28, Montoya had followed Gray to Torres’ home and forced his way inside after Torres opened the door when Gray saw something move near a window, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Montoya pushed past Torres as Gray fled to a back bedroom, the affidavit said. Montoya jumped her, knocked her down and held her while he kicked her and Torres fought to get Montoya off Gray.

She broke free and ran. Montoya pulled a knife, but Torres talked to Montoya until he calmed down and eventually left, the affidavit said.

Gray obtained a restraining order against Montoya from a Sandoval County judge on Feb. 1. She said she was afraid Montoya would kill her, her two daughters and Torres.

Montoya was released on bond on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a household member and aggravated burglary.

Women in Las Cruces and Rio Rancho had filed complaints against Montoya dating back more than a decade, police said.

“It was pretty easy to find out he had some history,” said Officer Nadine Hamby, spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Police Department.

In 1995, Montoya pleaded guilty to charges of stalking, assault, attempted arson and attempted breaking and entering after a complaint from a student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He was placed on probation for a year.

In 1998, another Las Cruces woman obtained a restraining order against Montoya. She told authorities he made 15 to 20 threatening phone calls a day for two months and had been seen near her apartment window several times.

And in 2005, a Rio Rancho woman complained Montoya had been harassing her for a month after they dated briefly, showing up at her home and that of her new boyfriend, according to police records. No charges were filed.

“Obviously, ‘no’ was not something he wanted to hear,” Hamby said. “They (victims) would do the right thing and go to police and get restraining orders. But it appears he wouldn’t leave them alone until he found someone new.”

The university, in a post on its UNM Today Web page, said Torres “will be remembered as a scholar of great passion, dedication and kindness.” The school called Gray “a scholar of great promise” who had been scheduled to defend her thesis later this month.

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