Scholarship for teens killed during Chimayo pilgrimage needs help

CHIMAYO, N.M. (KRQE) – Seventeen years ago, two teens were murdered during the Good Friday pilgrimage to Santuario de Chimayo. Now, the family is looking to the community for help.

Since that murder in 2000, the families of Ricky Martinez and Karen Castañon have kept a little piece of their children alive through a memorial scholarship.

Now, they’re finding out they need nearly $2,000 to keep that scholarship going.

“It was big. It made people realize that the devil can come out on a holy day,” said Ray Martinez.

Martinez said that the time around Good Friday and the anniversary of his son Ricky’s death is never easy.

“We miss them dearly but we continue going on with our faith,” Martinez said.

Ricky Martinez and Karen Castañon were just 17 years old in 2000. Their families say they were soul mates.

“And knowing that they were great kids and knowing that they passed away on a holy day doing God’s work, it picks you up,” Martinez said.

The teens were shot and killed while on their pilgrimage to Santuario de Chimayo.

“He was going to portray Jesus Christ that day,” Martinez said.

While it’s been 17 years since their deaths shocked the state, their memory has stayed alive thanks in part to a scholarship at Northern New Mexico College in Ricky and Karen’s name.

Through tears, Martinez explained, “It can be sad but also knowing that their names still lives on, that’s a great thing.”

Last week, Martinez says he got a letter from the college saying the funds were drying up and he needed nearly $2,000.

“I kind of got scared because if we lose that then we lose that connection.”

Now, he’s turning to the community for help.

“Every year when I get the letter it’s an emotional roller coaster, but it’s a great smile after knowing that Ricky and Karen, you’re still doing your thing. They were always helping people,” Martinez said.

The scholarship has helped more than a dozen students. It provides each recipient $500 for books.

Martinez has started a GoFundMe account but still needs about $1,600.

Donations are also tax deductible through the Northern Foundation. For more information, contact Terry Mulert with the Northern Foundation at 505-747-2147. 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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