NATIONAL NEWS

New Mexico man charged in cold case: ‘I needed to confess’

May 30, 2023, 12:14 PM

In this frame grab from body camera video provided by the Roswell Police Department, Tony Peralta l...

In this frame grab from body camera video provided by the Roswell Police Department, Tony Peralta leans against a police vehicle after turning himself in to authorities, in Roswell, N.M., May 1, 2023. Peralta called 911 to confess to the 2008 killing of his former landlord. (Roswell Police Department via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Roswell Police Department via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officers found Tony Peralta sitting on a curb not far from a convenience store where he borrowed a cell phone to call 911 and confess to the 2008 killing of his former landlord.

Sweating and taking puffs from his cigarette, he told them he’s tired of covering it up, tired of living with the lie and tired of being overwhelmed by guilt. He agreed to take the officers to where he buried the body before standing up and volunteering to be cuffed.

Police in the southeastern New Mexico community of Roswell released the 911 recording and nearly an hour of officer body camera video in response to a records request filed by The Associated Press. The May 1 footage shows Peralta repeatedly thanking the officers for picking him up.

“I confess, man. I confess. I don’t want to live life anymore without confessing,” he said while sitting in an interview room at police headquarters.

The uniformed officers and detectives who talked with Peralta peppered him with questions about when the killing happened, how he did it and why. Peralta kept answering that he didn’t know or didn’t remember, acknowledging that he had been drinking “a lot” the day he called 911.

Peralta, 37, was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder. His public defender has said he will ensure Peralta’s due process is respected as the case moves through court.

A judge on Tuesday also set Peralta’s trial for October but said that date could change.

At times, the authorities had asked if Peralta was making up the story and leading them on a goose chase since he wasn’t providing many details, other than saying he had killed someone a long time ago.

“There’s a dead body in there, dude!” he told one officer while in the back of a patrol car parked in front of the home where he once was a tenant of 69-year-old William Blodgett. Peralta said he’d feel better once the body was found.

Investigators said they obtained a search warrant and found a boot, bones and dentures after removing plywood floorboards from a detached room on the side of the house.

The dentures were compared with Blodgett’s dental records — obtained in early 2009 after he was reported missing — and that led to a positive identification, according to police.

A tearful Peralta told police he didn’t know why he had killed Blodgett. At one point, police video shows him putting his head down onto a table during an interview and sobbing.

Peralta told police he decided to come forward because “his heart hurts” and that he thought about it every day. He told an officer that Blodgett was a good man and that he took his life for no reason while high on methamphetamine.

“I don’t have an excuse,” he told police. “A lot of people have an excuse. I don’t have one.”

Blodgett’s girlfriend and family had not seen him since late December 2008. She told police that Peralta, who was considered a suspect by police early on, allegedly had some sort or argument or fight with Blodgett, who had tried to evict him.

Authorities at the time had talked to Blodgett’s family, friends and neighbors and visited the home the two men shared, which appeared to have been abandoned with personal belongings still in place. Police found no immediate signs of foul play and Blodgett’s vehicle was still there, according to the original missing person report.

Detectives would periodically drive by the house but never spotted anyone. They also brought a dog trained to sniff for bodies to the property but found nothing.

Police said the case went cold after investigators exhausted all leads until Peralta’s 911 call.

____

Associated Press writer Rio Yamat in Las Vegas, Nev., contributed to this report.

National News

FILE - Steam billows from a coal-fired power plant Nov. 18, 2021, in Craig, Colo. A federal appeals...

Associated Press

US appeals court allows EPA rule on coal-fired power plants to remain in place amid legal challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a victory for President Joe Biden’s administration, a federal appeals court on Friday ruled that a new federal regulation aimed at limiting planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants can remain in force as legal challenges continue. Industry groups and some Republican-led states had asked the court to block the Environmental Protection […]

16 minutes ago

FILE - An eBay app is shown on a mobile phone, July 11, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, Fil...

Associated Press

Member of eBay security team sentenced in harassment scheme involving bloody Halloween pig mask

BOSTON (AP) — The former senior manager of special operations for eBay Inc.’s. global security team was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Boston for his role in a cyberstalking campaign that included sending a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse to a […]

54 minutes ago

Associated Press

Some convictions overturned in terrorism case against Muslim scholar from Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge has overturned a conviction carrying a life sentence for an Islamic scholar from Virginia who was found guilty of soliciting treason after the Sept. 11 attacks for encouraging followers to fight against the U.S. in Afghanistan. The ruling issued Thursday from U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema overturns three of […]

1 hour ago

FILE - This undated booking photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Sandra H...

Associated Press

Three courts agree that a woman deemed wrongfully convicted should be freed. She still isn’t.

A circuit judge, an appellate court and the Missouri Supreme Court agree that a woman whose murder conviction was overturned should be free after 43 years in prison. Yet Sandra Hemme is still behind bars, leaving her lawyers and legal experts puzzled. “I’ve never seen it,” said Michael Wolff, a former Missouri Supreme Court judge […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building, Dec. 8, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg...

Associated Press

Political divisions stall proposed gun policies in Pennsylvania, where assassin took aim at Trump

Months before an armed man took aim at Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally in rural Pennsylvania, some state lawmakers had proposed to outlaw the type of rifle used in the assassination attempt. The legislation stalled without coming to a vote, but that was no surprise. Politically divided Pennsylvania has been at a standstill […]

2 hours ago

This photo provided by Matthew Linehan shows a flood-damaged potato field at Sparrow Arc Farm in Gu...

Associated Press

Vermont farmers take stock after losing crops to flooding two years in a row

BARNET, Vt. (AP) — Exactly one year to the date of last year’s severe flooding in Vermont, Joe’s Brook Farm was flooded again by the remnants of Hurricane Beryl. This time it was worse. Workers were able to harvest some of the produce before last week’s flooding, but the family-owned vegetable farm still lost 90% […]

3 hours ago

New Mexico man charged in cold case: ‘I needed to confess’