ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 learned a murder suspect who was set free has been living and working at an Albuquerque motel.
Several people staying at the motel who saw the story on Wednesday night were shocked to learn who Mark Chavez is.
As of Thursday morning, the owner of the Freeway Inn said Chavez no longer works there. Several people said they were frightened to learn who they were living next to.
KRQE News 13 was there when Chavez packed up his stuff and cleared out his room at the Freeway Inn on Thursday night.
Guests at the motel along I-40 in Albuquerque said they immediately recognized Chavez from a KRQE News 13 story as the maintenance man who’s been living and working at the Freeway Inn for at least the last week.
“I just met the dude yesterday, that was weird,” said motel guest Michael Montoya.
Chavez was the prime suspect in Tammie Cessna’s murder in Moriarty last month. He was arrested, then released, while prosecutors wait for results of forensic tests to come back.
“He came into my room and he fixed anything that was wrong with it. He had access to keys, to all the doors,” said one tenant at the Freeway Inn, who didn’t want to be identified. “And honestly, yeah that does freak me out.”
Another motel guest said, “We live by three schools and we’ve got a bunch of kids and elderly people that live here. I got my kid here myself.”
Police found Cessna’s body badly beaten and disfigured, hidden under clothing inside her van. The van had been parked at the Super 8 motel in Moriarty where her boyfriend, Chavez, lived and worked as the maintenance man.
Investigators found blood all over Chavez’s motel room and said he kept changing his story when police questioned him.
Since his release, KRQE News 13 wanted to know where Chavez is, and if Moriarty Police were keeping an eye on him.
The owner of the Freeway Inn said Chavez left Thursday morning. The motel owner wouldn’t go on camera, but had the manager tell KRQE News 13 that Chavez was working there on a one week trial period, and that he called the office to say the job wasn’t working for him.
However, some tenants say they called the motel office about Chavez after the story aired, and said they didn’t feel safe, and they were leaving.
“Yeah, he’s not convicted, but you know, the way he ended up here just gives me the creeps. That’s why I’m moving,” said one man.
Chavez’s prior employer said he hadn’t been back to the Super 8 in Moriarty since his release, and it’s unclear exactly how he got the job in Albuquerque.
The Moriarty police chief has refused to say whether they’re keeping tabs on Chavez. We asked Albuquerque Police if the Moriarty Police Department gave them a heads up Chavez was in the metro. APD said they weren’t notified.
Now that Chavez has left the Freeway Inn, it’s again unclear where he is. Depending on the result of the forensic evidence tests, prosecutors can still charge Chavez for Cessna’s murder.