Las Vegas, NM – On December 28, 2016, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau opened an investigation into a suspicious death which occurred at a residence on 580 State Road 3 in Ribera, San Miguel County. State Police officers were dispatched around 12:30 p.m. to the residence for a medical call of an elderly man who had fallen.
When officers and EMS personnel arrived on scene, they found the residence full of smoke from a fire which started and spread from a gas stove in the kitchen. Officers then discovered in a bedroom the body of Arthur Rivera (81). The body appeared to have sustained multiple wounds consistent with those made by a sharp object and around the body was a large amount of blood.
State Police agents later interviewed Ruth Rivera (52) who was on scene during the initial response. Ms. Rivera stated she was the daughter-in-law and caretaker of Mr. Rivera. Ms. Rivera gave inconsistent statements to State Police agents and told agents Mr. Rivera and had fallen and injured himself at the residence. She stated she was attempting to help Mr. Rivera when the house caught on fire from the stove so she called 911. Ms. Rivera admitted the only occupants at the residence at the time were Mr. Rivera and herself.
After obtaining search warrants, State Police agents collected the clothing which Ms. Rivera was wearing at the scene. Her clothing was wet and appeared to have been recently cleansed in attempt to hide evidence. Also collected at the scene was a knife blade placed on the burnt stove.
On the morning of December 30, 2016, an autopsy was conducted on Mr. Rivera. The Office of the Medical Investigator ruled Mr. Rivera’s death a homicide and noted multiple stab wounds to Mr. Rivera’s torso and face.
On the evening of December 30, 2016, State Police agents arrested Ruth Rivera for the death of Mr. Rivera. She was booked on charges of first degree murder and tampering with evidence.