I’M VERY CONSCIOUS
Of not bringing my son’s murder in Albuquerque into the public domain, unless I think it may serve a good purpose, and serve others. (Or, like last Thursday, to honor him with a headline and a couple sentences at the bottom of my NOTEWORTHY column, because that day was his birthday.)
As for my column, believe me, I have puh-lenty of things to write about in Santa Monica. But I learned, in writing that very difficult column two years ago, shortly after his death, that being honest and vulnerable about a tough, very personal matter can connect with a lot of people, in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
SO I HAVE TO REPORT
What I did last week in regard to his unsolved (barely touched) case, because I think it may apply somehow to Santa Monica, with our many serious problems, getting only worse because of City government actions. Not directly apply, but as an example that after being patient and going through channels, there comes a time to figure out a very different way to approach things.
Our family has been more than patient and understanding, as you will see in my letter below. But at some point you have to say, that’s it, you’ve had your chance, now I’m calling you out. And maybe that helps.
So I sent the letter to Mayor Tim Keller, police Chief Michael Geier, and (former) detective Joshua Brown. And I sent it to the Albuquerque Journal, the largest newspaper in the state. Their managing editor did what I hoped he would, he passed it along, to their front page columnist Joline Gutierrez Krueger. She wrote us that day, and my wife and I spent close to an hour on the phone with her, talking about Chris’s case and other related things.
There’s no guarantee Kreuger will write a column about it. That’s her call. But as a former courts reporter and police reporter, she has lots of experience with crime and murder cases, “especially those involving homicides and the way they were investigated — or not.” Or not. Not a word yet from the government types — sound familiar? As you read my letter see if any of it seems like what we’re going through here. Maybe we can learn something.
YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH MURDER IN ALBUQUERQUE
I grew up in Albuquerque, age 3-33. Graduated UNM. Left in 1980 for LA, to work in the music business.
My son Chris Andrews was 11 when we left, went to UC Santa Cruz, lived there about 15 years then moved back to Albuquerque. Bought a small house he loved and lived a good life with his two cats and many friends.
As I write this Sept. 12, it would have been his 50th birthday. But instead of joy and celebration, there is a pervasive sadness his family and friends have to deal with, now until forever, because he was murdered with a bullet through the heart, in his own home, likely by someone who knew him (according to APD), two years ago, a week after his birthday.
The Albuquerque Police Dept. has treated his murder like a pothole report. For nearly a year and a half we called Det. Joshua Brown every Tuesday to get any update. There never was anything for him to report, but we wanted to be the squeaky wheel that’s not forgotten.
That didn’t help. The detective assured us from the beginning that he would do everything in his power to find our son’s murderer, that it mattered, to him personally. But two years later, the APD has shown us that you can get away with murder in Albuquerque these days, pretty easily.
On a visit there we tried to go through channels to get a 15-min. meeting with Chief Geier but were stonewalled and ignored by his “community liaison officer.” Geier’s so-called commitment to serving the community is a sham. Your Mayor Tim Keller is complicit.
Two years later no one has even checked up on the last phone calls from my son’s phone. Isn’t that what you do in the first week? Det. Brown has been promoted… and told us he would turn everything over to a new detective as soon as he winds up the phone calls and other details. That was six months ago. The trail on that is now as cold as Sandia Crest in Jan.
A few months ago I checked the APD website for homicides and there was a list of some 35 active investigations. Chris’s murder was not among them. That was painful to see. Apparently there are “politics” involved, and our son just didn’t matter that much.
It is such an insult for his case to be so dismissed by APD with their botched investigation and nonexistent follow-up.
Right now there is an amazing champion on Jeopardy, a teacher from your city, who is plowing through every brilliant opponent. And I can’t even root for him, can’t care, because of this. Albuquerque, my hometown of three decades, you are dead to me now.
God save the rest of you who still live there. Lock all your doors, look over your shoulder, get big mean vicious dogs, buy lots of guns. You have no police dept. Your City government doesn’t care about you. You’re on your own.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com