Portales, New Mexico – The following is a news release from the Ninth Judicial District’s Attorney’s Office.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney, Andrea Reeb, announced that today 37-year-old Jose R. Zapata was arrested for the March 15, 2016 murders of Christina Winters-Griffin and John Jesse Bustamante.
On March 16, 2016, law enforcement was dispatched to 917 N Avenue J for a house that was engulfed in flames. The deceased bodies of Griffin and Bustamante were found in the house. Both had gunshot wounds to the head. The incident was investigated by the Major Crimes Unit. No arrests were made.
The District Attorney’s Office continued to investigate the cold case over the years. After a recent breakthrough in the investigation, Jose R Zapata was arrested for two counts of Murder, Arson, Conspiracy to Commit Arson, and two counts of Tampering with Evidence. The Curry County Sheriff’s office provided essential support in the investigation of this case. The Portales Police Department assisted in the arrest late this afternoon. After a search warrant was obtained, Zapata was found hiding in a crawl space in a residence located at 820 W 14th Street in Portales where he was in possession of a firearm.
District Attorney Andrea Reeb stated, “Due to the diligence of the District Attorney’s Office Special Agents, today an arrest was made. Sometimes it takes years for the pertinent information to come forth in order to make an arrest, but with persistent work, it frequently happens. We are extremely happy to now move forward with the prosecution in this matter and bring some closure to the victim’s families.”
Zapata will have a first appearance scheduled sometime next week and a pretrial detention hearing will be set in the near future.
For further information please contact the District Attorney’s Office at 575-769-2246.