Church fire tops the list

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By Tris DeRoma

Here is a look at some of the top police, fire and rescue stories of 2012.


It took close to three hours but the Los Alamos Fire Department extinguished a major fire at New Beginnings Fellowship Assembly of God Church at 112 East Road on July 4.

Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider confirmed the fire was out around 1 p.m. It looked as if the fire was out earlier but LAFD was contending with hotspots in the rafters of the chapel.

Grider said the chapel was a total loss and the main church received smoke damage.

After a lengthy investigation, it was later determined that the fire’s cause was electrical.

Paint truck skids off N.M. 4

The forest was awash in white and yellow paint.

A white 1998 International flatbed truck, carrying 1,000 gallons of yellow and white road striping paint, was heading eastbound on N.M. 4 near mile marker 49, when it exited the roadway and fell approximately 200 feet before coming to rest in the forest Sept. 18.

The vehicle driven by Francisco Maes, 51, of Willard, unleashed its colorful cargo on the way down the embankment. Maes suffered injuries that were reported to be serious and was flown by helicopter to Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe. 

He later said his brakes went out.

Police diffuse suicidal situation

One of the most dramatic arrests this year took place two days after Thanksgiving. That was when two Los Alamos police officers successfully take down a suicidal man who used his own gun to try and provoke the officers to shoot him.

The suspect, Isaiah Cisneros, 26, told officers while facing them, “You’re going to have to (expletive) kill me.” At the last minute, when it looked like tragedy was going to strike, one of the officers fired a taser at Cisneros, safely bringing an end to the tense standoff.

Oddest arrest of the year

A few days after Thanksgiving, Los Alamos resident Melissa Carpenter allegedly decided to help herself at a local art show being held at the Fuller Lodge. Making no pretense to be subtle, Carpenter allegedly stole about $1500 worth of items, knocking over some items in the process, a move which alerted the art show staffers.

They called police, and proceeded to follow her to Smiths, where officers cornered her and recovered the items.

She allegedly told police she stole the items “because she didn’t have any money.”

Police Chief checks out on medical leave

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy was suddenly placed on medical leave in late November due to a grave illness that came on suddenly. He is currently recuperating at home, and as of press time, does not know when he’s going to return to his old job.

“I’m still in limbo as to what the next steps are though. It’s going to be a while,” he said in a recent article regarding his illness.

Police break up three-man burglary ring

Responding to a rash of car break-ins that seemed to last for weeks, Los Alamos police worked the case for weeks, only getting a break when Albuquerque police made an arrest in their jurisdiction.

Arrested were Coady Richards, Skylar B. Smith and Sklyar’s brother, Evan Smith on a stolen vehicle and firearms charges.

“I also hope this sends a message that if criminals target Los Alamos we will spare no resource to apprehend them,” LAPD Det. Sgt. Oliver Morris said in the article.

Los Alamos loses two residents in one weekend

The first weekend in November was a deadly one for two Los Alamos National Laboratory employees. Both of them died while out in the New Mexico wilderness in Sandoval County.

The first casualty was 54-year-old Thomas Ilg of Los Alamos. Ilg’s body was found at the base of a 100-foot cliff. Police investigating theorized Ilg slipped and fell to his death.

The second was David Sturm, 55, of Jemez Springs, who was helping friends clear trees off of Cochiti Mesa. While cutting trees, witnesses said one of the trees caught him and dragged him off a 200-foot cliff to his death.

The lab said in a statement, “On behalf of the director and the laboratory as a whole, our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Thomas Ilg and David Sturm.”

Case dismissed

It was a case that caused some worry on the North Mesa, the last place where accused child pornographer Jesse Arteaga was last seen. When Arteaga was arrested in June of 2011, they thought they’ve seen the last of him, but it was not to be.

In July of this year, under orders from the New Mexico Attorney General’s office, the Los Alamos Police Department released him. The reason? “We had to file a motion to dismiss the matter as a formality, mainly because we could not indict him within the mandatory 10-day period,” NMAGO Director of Communications Phil Cisneros said.

Stabbing case resolved

As far as domestic calls went, it was a pretty violent one. In July of 2011, by the time police arrived at a Los Alamos Apartment complex, two people were severely wounded and Daniel Rowan, 35 was arrested for the crime.

In 2012, Rowan received his sentence: Five years in prison.

Meth ring broken

In a case that seemed like it was from a crime TV episode, police arrested two women accused of peddling methamphetamine in Los Alamos and White Rock.  The year-long investigation culminated in arresting the women in late September.

According to the police report, an informant would drive the drugs in from Albuquerque and drop them off at the house of Doe Chapman, 55, in White Rock. Another woman, Chliuyen Shockey, 38, of Los Alamos, would then take the drug into Los Alamos and distribute it.

Police seized 47.7 grams of methamphetamine and $1,410 in cash. Both women were eventually released on bonds and are currently awaiting trial.

Trials set for Geisik, Abney

Both accused child rapist Stephen Geisik and alleged child abuser Tyrell Abney both pled not guilty in their first appearance in District Court in June.

Their trials are scheduled for next year.

Geisik, 21, is charged with five counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor under age 13 — a first-degree felony; and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor — a fourth-degree felony.

Abney, 20, is charged with child abuse resulting in great bodily harm – a first-degree felony.

Both cases were bound over from Los Alamos Magistrate Court to District Court earlier this month.