A man has been arrested as a suspect in the death of Garland Taylor, an Albuquerque real estate broker whose body was found in a for-sale home on Monday. Taylor died from a single gunshot wound.
Mario Lucas Chavez, 27, was arrested at a family member’s house in Albuquerque at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night, and he was booked at the Metropolitan Detention Center on an open count of murder with a cash-only bond set at $2 million, said Bernalillo County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Erin Kinnard.
Investigators found a car with Arizona license plates Wednesday that was linked to Chavez, Kinnard said. “Based on some of the tips we received our detectives discovered the car late on Wednesday night. Once that happened they started to piece together some information which led them to Mr. Chavez,” she said.
Real estate groups in the Albuquerque area on Thursday announced the offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Taylor’s killer, and Kinnard said that Sheriff Darren White “appreciated the efforts of the real estate community during this investigation and their offer of a reward. This tragedy affected a lot of folks both within the real estate industry and our community in general.”
Taylor, 74, had reportedly shown the home to a man on Monday morning to a man who had contacted Taylor from a payphone. Witnesses described the man – who was the last person seen with Taylor before his death – and his car to Sheriff’s investigators.
Taylor served as the listing agent for the high-end home, which had a price tag of $910,000. Taylor, who began his career in real estate about 12 years ago, was a grandfather and served as a deacon at First Baptist Church in Albuquerque. Taylor’s wife, Mary Nell Taylor, has also been active in the church, and the couple had been married for 54 years, according to reports. Services were held for Taylor this morning.
Connie Kounas, an associate broker for Coldwell Banker Legacy’s sales office in Albuquerque who worked with Taylor years ago, said this week that Taylor was “a gentleman’s gentleman. He was just so kind. His manners and his integrity – he had the highest integrity. It’s hard to think what the motive could have been.”
Kinnard said the motive in the apparent homicide is not yet clear. “We’re pretty certain we know the ‘who,’ the ‘where,’ and the ‘what.’ We’re still looking at ‘why.’ It’s something we’re going to work on very aggressively,” she said. Kinnard said she is not aware of whether Chavez had any previous convictions or charges of violent crimes.
Chavez reportedly used an alias with some of the people whom he interacted with, Kinnard said. He may have contacted other Realtors in the Albuquerque area, and he also may have contacted the owners of high-priced vehicles who were attempting to sell their vehicles, Kinnard said. “We absolutely believe that he contacted other Realtors,” she said, and he reportedly introduced himself as a corporate lawyer from Arizona. Kinnard said that this pattern of contacting car owners and Realtors might have occurred “over the last several weeks.”
Realtor groups in Arizona and New Mexico posted Web site advisories earlier this week to alert area real estate agents about the incident. An advisory on one site recommended that agents “do not meet strangers at your listings. Please meet clients at your office before proceeding on to homes. Do not show listings alone.”
Anyone who has a tip about the suspect or Taylor’s death can call the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department at (505) 798-7000 or Crimestoppers at (505) 843-STOP.
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