Las Cruces Bowling Massacre: New doc sheds light on heinous crime

Twenty-five shots. Seven victims. Four deaths. Two killers. Zero arrests.

No justice.

It's widely considered the worst crime in Las Cruces history. On Feb. 10, 1990, two gunmen walked into Las Cruces Bowl, stole thousands of dollars and shot seven people.

It was an average Saturday morning. Around 8 a.m., Steven Teran brought his two young daughters Paula Holguin, 6, and Valarie Teran, 2 to work with him at the bowling alley where they would be in daycare while his wife Audrey was in class. They walked in on a robbery in progress and found two gunmen had forced four people on the floor in the office: Ida Holguin, the cook; Stephanie Senac, the manager (her father owned the bowling alley); Senac's 12-year-old daughter Melissia Repass; and her 13-year-old friend Amy Houser. The gunmen forced Steven and his daughters to the floor; shot all of them at close range; started a fire on the desk; and fled.

Though shot in the head, Repass was conscious after the shooting and was able to make a 911 call. She, along with Holguin and Senac, survived the shootings. Steven, his young girls, and Amy Houser did not.

The suspects at the time were described as being Hispanic males one in his late 30s to early 40s, 5'5", medium build, 160 to 180 pounds; the other in his mid to late 20s, 5'6" to 5'8", medium build, approximately 190 pounds. They did not wear masks or gloves.

They have never been identified.

The case remains unsolved to this day.

***

It is a brutal, evil tale one that has haunted Charlie Minn for two decades. In Boston, attending college, Minn saw the story of the bowling alley massacre on the television show "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1990. He had no connection whatsoever to any of the victims or Las Cruces, but the story took hold of Minn and never let go.

"Life is strange who can explain why something hits you," he says. "With this I guess it was the unfairness of it all, and how barbaric it was. Children ... slaughtered ..."

Over the years, Minn would call the Las Cruces Police Department and inquire about leads; there were few, and none that produced results. He combed the Internet, searching for new information; he found nothing.

So last summer, he decided to do something about it. After working in local news for years, including a two-year stint in Albuquerque, Minn decided to pursue his passion documentary films. His choice of subject: the bowling alley massacre.

"I know there is someone walking around out there who knows what happened, knows something, and hasn't spoken up," Minn says.

Minn began work on the documentary "Nightmare in Las Cruces" in September. He interviewed more than two dozen people, from survivors to law enforcement to friends and family. He gathered crime scene footage and the call to 911. He hired actors for re-enactment scenes.

He will tell you he would prefer not to be mentioned in this article at all. (Clearly, we did so anyway.) He says all he cares about is bringing justice to the victims. He wants as many people as possible to see the film, talk about the film, read about the film hoping that someone will provide a piece of the puzzle that leads to solving the case.

***

That day in 1990 robbed Audrey Teran of her husband and her two daughters.

For years, Audrey has kept many of the abhorrent details of the crime to herself kept it from her friends and family, and from the media. But as the 20th anniversary approached, she decided it was time to reveal the cruelty and ruthlessness that occurred that day.

"My 2-year-old she was shot in the forehead, but she wasn't killed immediately," Audrey says. "Her spinal cord was severed, though. Had she lived, she would have been a quadriplegic."

She also says it appears that her 6-year-old daughter fought back. She had bruises, including a black eye as if she had been punched in the face.

"Maybe people in the Southwest didn't know just how horrible it was; how my daughters were mistreated," Audrey says.

"Maybe this will finally be enough to make someone call in."

Audrey now lives in El Paso, but says she never left the area because she has received so much love from the Las Cruces community, and Albertson's, her employer.

"It's been 20 years and people will still stop me and tell me they are praying for me praying that there will be closure."

***

Detective Mark Myers joined the Las Cruces Police Department in 1995 and got assigned to the bowling alley case in 2002. For eight years, it has weighed heavily upon him.

"It's a burden, especially this time of year, the anniversary. I know how much these people have lost," he says. "They are desperate for answers, for justice. To not be able to provide any answers ... it's frustrating."

Some believe the shootings weren't a random act of violence; that it was a message. Rumors of drug deals gone bad, debts, embezzlement and organized crime abounded many linked to Las Cruces Bowl Owner Ronald Senac.

"We investigated all of those angles at the time," Myers says. "Thousands and thousands of man hours went into trying to prove those theories, but we couldn't prove anything," he says. "We put Ronald Senac under a microscope and we couldn't find anything. To date, all we know for sure is it was a robbery-homicide."

When Minn first approached Myers and the LCPD, Myers says he was skeptical. However, he thought about it, checked out Minn to make sure he was legit, and decided it was a good idea.

The crime had been featured on "Unsolved Mysteries" and "America's Most Wanted." "But those shows they only have 10- or 15-second sound bites. This documentary you really get to hear about these people's situations. When you listen to Audrey or Ida it breaks your heart.

"Maybe the right person will see it, sympathize and come forward."

"That elusive piece of information it's out there," Minn says. "I hope the film evokes enough emotion in someone that they will do the right thing. The victims, their families, Las Cruces need closure."

***

Anyone with any information even the smallest detail is encouraged to call Las Cruces PD at 575.528.4222. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers at 575-526-8000."A Nightmare in Las Cruces" will begin a limited run at the Cineport 10 in Las Cruces beginning Feb. 10. It will also be shown in Albuquerque at the Guild Cinema. Check out bowlingmassacre.com for more info. Be forewarned the trailer and film are graphic.

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