Teen Arrested in Ragle Park Slaying

Santa Fe Police say GPS data helped identify 16-year-old suspect, but have not released info about possible motive

News Police executed a search warrant on a home near Ragle Park, but arrested a teen at another location and have charged him in the Aug. 10 shooting death of Samuel Cordero. (Grant Crawford)

Santa Fe Police Department investigators used GPS data to identify a 16-year-old suspect accused of first-degree murder in an August shooting at Ragle Park.

According to a news release from the department, police arrested the male on Wednesday morning “without incident.” Police charged the teen with first -degree murder and tampering with evidence in the death of Samuel Cordero, 60, who died of a gunshot wound to his head sometime between 2 am and 4:30 am on Aug. 10. SFR is not naming the suspect at this time because he is a minor. Police did not provide any documentation about the arrest beyond the news release.

Santa Fe Police Captain Aaron Ortiz tells SFR the young suspect was identified after police conducted a wide search of GPS data near the park during the wee hours of Aug. 10 and found the Cordero and the suspect “were the only ones that were in park at that time.” Investigators learned Cordero had left his job at a nearby senior care center just after 2 am. A man walking his dog in the park found Cordero’s body face down on the ground under a pavilion about two hours later. Cordero’s car was nearby.

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies confirms with SFR her office assisted police with executing a search warrant to obtain the GPS data that police say they used to find the suspect, but she says the case has not been fully turned over to her office.

Ortiz says police have some “theories” about motive, but would not discuss specifics.

Questions about the circumstances of Cordero’s death quickly began piling up. The city knew a gate to the park that would have prevented him from driving there at that hour had been broken for months. And now, with the new information that police and the DA’s office used what’s referred to as a geo fencing search warrant to track down the suspect, presents more questions.

Geo fencing warrants access digital location history to identify devices used in a specific time and place, and a Virginia judge recently ruled such warrants unconstitutional.

The news release says police arrested the teen Wednesday at an apartment near Rufina Street and Richards Avenue. They also executed two search warrants, one at a home near the park.

SFR previously reported that Cordero’s phone was found on the side of Rodeo Road at least a half a mile from the park. It’s still unclear why his phone was found in a plastic bag and a significant distance from his body. Ortiz tells SFR the department is still investigating “phone data,” but said the process can take a while and wouldn’t elaborate.

Ortiz says investigators are looking at “not necessarily the victim’s phone, but other phone data.”

It’s unclear whether prosecutors will charge the suspect as an adult. Carmack-Altwies tells SFR she is withholding much of the information she would normally share because of the suspect’s age.

“If it wasn’t a juvenile, I’d be able to tell you,” she says. “But because he is, I can’t really say anything.”

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