Teen arrested in former mayor’s stabbing death — (Star Tribune)

Original article no longer available

Star Tribune

by Associated Press

03-02-03 1225 EST

WALSENBURG, Colo. (AP) – A teenager arrested in the stabbing death of the town’s 91-year-old former mayor will be charged as an adult, Assistant District Attorney Cathy Mullens said.
Joe Valentine Romero IV, 17, was scheduled to appear in court Monday. He was arrested Friday on suspicion of killing George Turner in what investigators believe may have been a ”thrill killing.”
Turner was stabbed at least 13 times July 17. His body was found in a closet in his home.
According to an arrest affidavit, Romero’s mother, Roberta Sandoval, told a friend of his that Romero killed Turner. But she defended her son Saturday.
”I don’t believe he did it. He’s a good kid. He helps around the house. He’s always respectful. He has manners,” Sandoval said. ”I just don’t believe it was him.”
The affidavit said Sandoval told the friend Romero came home July 17 in an ”anger rage.” Romero was going to kill a friend because a song he heard told him to do it. He decided against it and went instead to Turner’s house, the affidavit says.
The elderly man was pulled out of bed and his throat was slit.
A week after the killing, Romero was committed for a time to the state mental hospital in Pueblo because of his ”violent ideologies,” the affidavit said. Officials said he had been home-schooled for the past year.
Sandoval said her son had been on medication for depression. Yet he had little trouble with the law, except for an underage-drinking citation, she said.
Romero’s friend told investigators that they hung out with a group of teenagers who believed in Satanism.
Investigators believe Romero acted alone.
”We think it’s just random, a random act of violence. We can’t rule out the possibility it was a thrill killing,” Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Steve Johnson said.
Turner’s son, David, 59, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., said he was thankful there was a suspect.
”It breaks my heart,” he said. ”Dad would have been 92 this month. He lived all those years and had a good life. You just wonder why. It kind of shakes your faith.”
Turner, a former coal miner, was mayor for four years in the 1950s.
His death was part of a summer crime spree in the town of 4,200 residents that included a robbery and a fleeing parolee with a knife.
AP-WS-03-02-03 1225EST