LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Valencia County deputies are investigating the death of a 12-year-old after the boy’s body was found in a field Tuesday in Meadow Lake.
The sheriff says 15-year-old Brandon Villalobos is in custody, facing charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
The victim, 12-year-old Alex Madrid, was his friend.
This all started to unfold Tuesday afternoon when Madrid’s aunt reported him missing. That led investigators to Villalobos, who led investigators to the field where the 12-year-old’s body was found in a vacant lot off of Manzano View Road in Meadow Lake.
The sheriff’s office initially called it a ‘suspicious death.’ Since then, the 15-year-old boy has been charged.
Sheriff Louis Burkhard says Villalobos is the only suspect in the case.
At one point, Villalobos told investigators he and Madrid had gotten into a fight with a group of guys. But according to court documents, he later admitted to getting into a fight with Madrid and hitting him once.
The arrest warrant says Villalobos – a special needs student at Los Lunas High School – confessed, telling deputies, “You want the truth … I only hit him once.”
Villalobos – who has a daughter – told investigators Madrid said something about the little girl, so he hit him in the head.
Deputies haven’t said what he hit him with.
Villalobos allegedly covered Madrid’s body with a mattress, then left him in a field.
District Court records show Villalobos’ criminal record started when he was just 11, when he was charged with battery and sentenced to 24 hours community service.
When he was 13, he was charged with battery again. Two months later, he was charged with fighting.
Attorneys entered notices to claim “not guilty by reason of insanity” on the last two charges. One was dropped.
It’s unclear what happened to the other and his attorney did not return calls for comment.
Neighbors are shocked by Madrid’s death and the allegations against Villalobos.
“It’s very sad because he’s just really young. They just threw him there like a bag of garbage. It’s terrible,” one neighbor said.
Villalobos was a special needs student at Los Lunas High School. He’s being held at the Juvenile Detention Center in Albuquerque.
Madrid attended a charter school in Albuquerque. Officials at the school – La Resolana on Yale near Gibson – say they’re shocked by his death. They’ll have an assembly Thursday morning to talk to students about the death and will offer grief counseling.
If you would like to help the family of the victim, there will be a fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 22, at Julian’s Burgers, Central & Atrisco SW (4100 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque), or you can make a donation at New Mexico’s Educators FCU under Alex Madrid.