The morning of December 23, Cassina Farley, director of the Patagonia Art Center on Naugle Ave. unlocked the front door to find that the center had been broken into during the night. A side door leading to Martha Kelly’s ceramic space had been kicked in and the front door to Farley’s office, made of thick, shatter-proof glass, had been bashed with a rock in an unsuccessful attempt to get inside. “Whoever this was, didn’t know this used to be a bank,” she said with a sad laugh, adding that there was little of value in the center and why would anyone do such a thing?
As she tried to figure out what had happened, Marshall Joe Patterson drove by on his way to an appointment in Nogales. Farley and Charlie Montoy flagged him down. Patterson put out a call to Deputy Ron Davis, and as they were assessing the situation, a little before 10a.m., Cecelia San Miguel called, saying that Velvet Elvis had been burgled and money stolen from the cash register.
Patterson left to investigate the second crime scene and discovered a clear shoe print in the wet ground by the back door. Deputy Davis took photographs and Deputy John York drove around town to see what might be going on. On Harshaw Road he came across a group of boys walking into town. He stopped them and asked to see the soles of their sneakers. One seemed to match the print at Velvet Elvis, so he called the marshall, who soon found the boys in town. They were in a car driven by the mother of the boy who was under suspicion. In the process of patting the boy down, Patterson discovered a wad of bills in his pocket amounting to slightly less than what had been taken from the restaurant. It was just after 1 p.m.
The youth was taken into custody, and although he denied everything at first, after talking to his mother, he confessed to stealing the money from Velvet Elvis. He also admitted to several other crimes and misdemeanors, including having parties in a room at the hotel, stealing a hotel key, stealing money and equipment from the library, and being involved with the kids who partied at night in the library garden. However, he refused to acknowledge that he had broken into the art center, and he insisted that he had robbed Velvet Elvis by himself.
The suspect is a sophomore at Patagonia High School and legally considered a juvenile. He was charged with 11 counts, including trespass, theft, and destroying property. After further interrogation and paper work, he was taken to the prison in Nogales where he spent the night in juvenile detention. 24 hours later he was remanded to his mother’s custody. When his case comes to court, a judge will decide the juvenile’s future.
Cassina Farley, who began the day feeling angry, now says that she is sad and hopes something good can come from this apprehension. She also praised the rapid response of Patagonia’s law enforcers.
Anna Coleman, director of Patagonia’s Youth Enrichment Center, knows the young suspect, and says she likes him. ”He’s not a bad kid. I feel really sad.”