On the morning of February 10, 1990, two unmasked men walked into the Las Cruces bowling alley and brutally shot 7 people, including a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old baby. The bandits made out with $5,000 in cash, but many theorists believe that money was not the primary motivation for their heinous crime. This harrowing event was one of the bloodiest tragedies in New Mexico history and is known as The Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre.
The Las Cruces Police Department received a 911 call at around 8:30am on February 10th, 1990 from a distraught teenager claiming that two men entered the bowling alley, rounded up the staff, and shot each person “execution-style”.
This call seemed too terrifying to be true, but they immediately dispatched police to the scene.
The caller, 12-year-old Mellisa Senac (now Mellisa Repass), crouched behind the desk in the main office and described the massacre.
Pulling quotes from an extremely well-produced documentary, A Nightmare in Las Cruces, Mellisa Senac tells the operator, Jim Hash, that she “heard a lot of shots.”
“I heard a gurgling sound and my mom would not answer me.”
“I heard somebody, and it sounded like they were drowning in their own blood.”
Mellisa bravely stays on the phone with Hash as the fire set on the desk next to her blazes hotter and hotter.
Initially, the two robbers were described as Hispanic men. The first male had “short kinky hair”, was in his late 30s and stood 5-foot-11-inches. The second male was older, late 40s or 50s, heavyset and “dark”.
Steve Senac, who was the son of the alley’s owner Ron Senac, described the details of each of the men to the police and sketch artist.
He had entered the bowling alley just minutes early to retrieve a bag from the building when he spotted the two men loitering close by. Thinking nothing of it, he got in his car and left the scene and as soon as he did; the men entered the front door.
Mellisa Senac (survivor and 911 caller) and Amy Houser (13-year-old deceased)had asked their Mellisa’s mother for change to put in the vending machine.
The mother obliged, and the two girls left the main office and made their way to the concessions. It was here that they were confronted by the two gunmen, who placing their guns on the girl’s heads, instructed both back into the main office.
The eldest of the two gunmen entered the kitchen where at gunpoint force Ida Hidalgo, the bowling alley’s cook, into the office as well.
They made all four hostages lie on the floor face down as the bandits searched for their bounty.
Four victims in total would have been tragic, but it was when Steve Teran, the part-time alley mechanic, walked in to the office carrying his two girls, Paula Holguin, 6-years-old, and Valerie Teran, 2-years-old.
Steve Teran was unaware that there was an active robbery taking place, and some think it he may have surprised the gunmen, which may have angered them.
Captain Fred Rubio, in-charge of the case, told media, “they were concentrated in one area and shot in one area.”
Teran had his children with him on this day after the family couldn’t find a babysitter.
After the 7 were compliant and subdued on the floor, the gunmen started shooting each person “execution-style” in the back of the head.
34-year-old Stephanie Senac died years later from complications because of the injuries she sustained in the shooting. Like the rest of the survivors, she lived her life in fear that the killers would comeback to eliminate her.
Valerie Teran was the youngest victim killed, although she passed when she arrived at the Memorial General Hospital minutes after the shooting.
Police believe that Valerie was the last to be shot, and more tragically, they shot her point-blank range in her forehead. The shooter would most likely have had to pick up the baby and place the barrel close to her head.
Audrey Teran, Steve Teran’s widowed wife, who was not at the scene because of her cosmetology school commitments, told media, “They’ve got to be maniacs to do this. What can a 2-year-old do? Why my little girls, my babies?”
“I believe Steven is sending me strength. I believe he and my daughters, my girls, they’re all in heaven. God has a mission for them. Steve took the girls with him because he didn’t want to leave them to suffer.”
Steve worked at the bowling alley on weeknights and some weekends to bring in extra income for his family.
He was pursing a position on the Las Cruces Police Department when he was murdered and he served as a first lieutenant in the New Mexico National Guard.
Audrey Teran not only lost her loving husband but also lost her two children on the morning of February 10, 1990.
“It kills me I couldn’t have been there.” Audrey Teran.
The once-joyful mother lost her entire family in the blink of an eye.
Who were these masked men who killed 5 innocent people, including the children?
Dona Anna County Sheriff, Cooney Sarracino, told media, “you don’t see may execution-style murders. I’ve seen where three or four people were killed but NOT little kids.”
Was this a random act of violence?
Sarracino states that even before the bowling alley massacre that he’s “seen an increase in homicides.”
Weeks before the shooting, there was another execution-style shooting at a gas station located close to the bowling alley.
Were the two men boarder-crossing criminals who found the first opportunity that came across?
Captain Fred Rubio said that the bandits “were not complete strangers to the area. They didn’t just drive by and say, ‘Oh, this looks like a good place to rob.’ There were other places open.”
How did the criminals know that there would be money in the safe in the morning? Wouldn’t most businesses take care of accounting at close of business, so not to leave money over night?
If the Las Cruces killers knew that money was left overnight, why didn’t they simply break in at 2am? I wouldn’t imagine breaking into a bowling alley would be that much of a challenge.
A large percentage of sleuths that look into the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre evidence to believe that the establishment’s owner, Ron Senac, had more knowledge of the crime than he wants to admit.
Ron Senac had money problems and his family claimed that he spent his money “foolishly”, enough to at least build up an enormous debt over the bowling alley.
It just so happens that Ron Senac was on a golfing trip in Tuscan when the murders occurred. Police also had trouble getting Ron to cooperate, even though he will claim things differently.
Ron was even living in the bowling alley. A sure sign that his finances weren’t in the best state.
Others believe Ron, or possibly his youngest son RJ, was running a drug operation in between the lanes.
RJ died in 1997 of a drug overdose, obviously he was a heavy user, as most people have claimed.
Did RJ have additional information?
If so, he never cooperated well before and he was “very distant, had a really blank face, and never gave more than police asked of him.”
I just want to leave it at this. The owner of the bowling alley gives me a real shady vibe.
And if you don’t agree, just know that Ron Senac opened the bowling alley back up, BEFORE they buried all the bodies.
Before they buried his own family.
Something is fishy, or just plain fucked there.
They buried another promising lead with the 2001 overdose of Irma Tijerina, a local drug addict who claimed to harbor the two murders after they shot up the bowling alley.
Irma lived closed to the Las Cruces Bowling Alley, knew undisclosed information, and even passed a polygraph test.
She later recanted her statement and died years later.
Will we ever solve this?
Two men not wearing mask shoot a 2-year-old baby in the forehead.