Autopsy confirms murder, suspect remains free

MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) – An autopsy report shows a Moriarty woman was beaten and strangled. Her boyfriend was arrested for her murder, then released, and nearly four months later he’s still free. So what’s taking so long to close the case?

Tammie Cessna’s body was found beaten inside her van in Moriarty. Blood was found all over her boyfriend’s hotel room, who at the time, was charged with her murder.

Cessna’s autopsy shows the cause of death as “homicidal violence including blunt injuries and probable strangulation.” Bruises from head to toe, the autopsy results confirm she was brutally murdered back in January.

“I haven’t actually got a chance to read through all the details yet, I kind of want to be with family, I don’t want to be by myself when I read it,” explained Wendy Cessna, Tammie’s sister.

Mark Chavez, the man initially charged with Cessna’s death, still walks free. Cessna’s body was found inside her van under piles of clothes. Moriarty Police impounded the van as evidence when she was reported missing, and didn’t find her body until they searched the van days later.

Cessna’s boyfriend, Chavez, lived and worked at the Super 8 motel where her van was parked. Investigators found a bloody scene in Chavez’s motel room, bloody gloves, clothes, blankets, rope, and a butane torch.

Even so, murder charges against Chavez were dropped pending further investigation.

The bloody motel room, body in the van, and now the autopsy report, apparently still isn’t enough to arrest Chavez.

“First it was they let him out, they let the suspect out because they didn’t have a cause of death, and then now they have a cause of death and now we have to wait for the evidence, it’s just, it just keeps changing,” said Wendy Cessna.

Since his release, Chavez went on to work at another motel in Albuquerque.

Friday, Moriarty Police told KRQE News 13 Chavez is still their person of interest and that they’re still waiting on crime lab results and more evidence which could take another month.

“My parents deserve justice, my sister deserves justice you know, her kids deserve justice,” said Wendy. The victim’s family is frustrated the case they thought was solved is taking so long.

According to police, Chavez has a history of domestic violence, and he’d beaten Cessna in the past. Police said the District Attorney’s office is reviewing the autopsy report. The D.A. did not return calls from News 13 by airtime Friday.

Police wouldn’t talk to News 13 on camera about the case, but they said they do know where Chavez is. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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