Nathan Romero

My son, Nathan Romero, was murdered in Albuquerque on August 29, 1993. He was chased down by three vehicles, stabbed, and left to die in the street. The murder site was at the corner of Chelwood and Lomas, only three blocks from my parentsí home.

Nathan was found with a Vietnamese medallion with the image of Ho Chi Minh on it clutched in his hand. He'd apparently snatched it from his killer during the struggle. The Albuquerque Police Department didn't even bother to collect that crucial piece of evidence from the medical investigator. It was turned over to me along with Nathan's personal effects.

Nathan's body was found at 7:30 a.m. The police arrived soon after. For some unexplained reason they kept calling me throughout the morning asking me to page my son. Finally at 2:30 p.m. they met with our family. Why they waited so long to inform us and had me keep paging my son when they already had his body I will never know.

I rounded up the boys who were with my son that night, and they told the police what happened. They said that, earlier in the evening, they had run into members of a gang called the NIPS at a friend's house. They described how one gang member, Shervin Mowzoun, kept yelling and attacking my son, who refused to fight. Finally, when another gang member, Anacheck Boutavong, became involved, my son ended up defending himself. As the gang was leaving they shouted that they would be back to finish the job.

After leaving that house, my son backed his car over something sharp and got a flat tire. He and his friends tried to change it, but it was too dark, so they started walking. They didn't get very far when three cars filled with NIPS started chasing them down. Nathan's two friends took off into an apartment complex, but my son kept running down Chelwood. The gang caught up with him and started beating him. He found a broken bottle and hit Anacheck with it. Anacheckís brother, Song Boutavong, then jumped on Nathanís back and started stabbing him. They left him in the street to die. Not a single one of them tried to help him.

It wasn't like the NIPS were difficult to locate. The police found a couple of the gang members that same day, still wearing the same clothes from the night before. They did not arrest those men, nor did they check their clothing for blood or hair samples that could be used for DNA evidence. They just interviewed them, let them walk away, and that was the end of it.

But it wasn't the end of it for me! While the police did nothing, I had to tolerate being harassed by that gang for two years! The men were so cocky they would park in front of my house and just sit there. They would laugh at my sonís friends when they saw them and ask them if they wanted to be killed next. We reported all this to the police, and there were still no arrests.

I became insistent on knowing why the police had not followed up on all the information they had been given. During one phone conversation, a homicide captain became so furious that he bellowed at the top of his lungs, "'We know who killed your son, just like we know who killed Kait Arquette! This is police business -- butt out!" I was aware of the Arquette homicide in 1989 and knew that the family believed Kaitlyn was murdered by an Asian crime ring. When I asked the captain why he was connecting those two cases, he went totally ballistic and yelled at me to keep my mouth shut and forget I'd ever heard him say that.

Even when two of the other gang members who had been there that night came forward as witnesses, APD still didn't make any arrests. What was it going to take to get them to do something!

I made many calls to the mayorís office requesting help. The mayor never called me back, but one of his assistants finally did and told me that he would talk to the mayor on my behalf. A few days later the mayor called my private investigator to ask how much information we really had. My investigator told him that we had enough evidence to file a civil suit against the City of Albuquerque for wrongful death. The mayor then made some calls and the wheels started turning. The case detective, (who was also the lead detective on the Kaitlyn Arquette case), was transferred out of the department, and in September, 1995, a warrant was finally issued for the arrest of Song Boutavong, Anacheck Boutavong, Shervin Mowzoun, and Michael Frias. But somebody from the police department leaked it to the press, and all of the suspects left town.

It wasn't easy to track them down, but at last they were all in custody and charged with murder, conspiracy, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. The bad news is that -- without my being informed, which is required by law --the killers were allowed to plea bargain. The man who stabbed Nathan, Song Boutavong, will be released from prison later this year, and all the others served very little time.

I suppose I should be grateful for small favors. If the mayor had not forced APD to arrest Nathan's killers, they would not have served any time at all.

 

Linda Gutierrez