My blog last week presented the case of Gerald Robinson, a Catholic priest and sexual predator who murdered a nun in 1980. This week’s blog deals with a 1990 mass murder at a Las Cruces, New Mexico bowling alley. Despite the passage of more than three decades, the murders remain unsolved.
The Bowling Alley
It was Saturday morning, February 10, 1990. Stephanie C. Senac, 34, the manager of Las Cruces Bowl at 1201 East Amador Avenue, went about the routine tasks of opening the business. Stephanie had her twelve-year-old daughter, Melissa Repass, with her. Melissa and her friend, Amy Houser, 13, planned to supervise the bowling alley’s daycare.
In the kitchen, cook Ida Holguin, 33, prepared to start her day. As she did, a man who had entered through the unlocked front door pointed a .22 caliber pistol at her and ordered her into the office. There, she saw another man holding Senac and the two girls at gunpoint. The gunmen ordered the women and girls to lie down while they removed between $4,000 and $5,000 (approximately $9,400 and $11,800 in 2023) from the bowling alley’s safe.
Murder in the Bowling Alley
While the intruders plundered the safe, Steve Teran, the bowling alley’s mechanic, arrived for work. Unable to find a babysitter, he brought his two daughters, Valerie Teran, 2, and Paula Holguin (no relation to Ida), 6, with him. He intended to drop them off at the alley’s daycare. Since they didn’t see anyone in the main part of the building, Teran and his two girls went to the office. There, they stumbled onto the robbery in progress.
Most likely panicking, the two robbers shot all seven people multiple times. Attempting to cover their crime, they set fire to some papers on Senac’s desk.
The report of the robbery and shootings came in at 8:33 a.m. Despite being shot five times, Melissa Repass used the office phone to call 9‑1‑1. Responding officers discovered Amy Houser, Paula Holguin, and Steven Teran dead at the scene. Valerie Teran was rushed to a hospital but was dead on arrival.
Melissa’s call and fast response by emergency personnel likely saved her life and those of her mother and Ida Holguin. However, Stephanie Senac died in 1999 from complications from her wounds.
Investigating the Bowling Alley Murders
Police set up ten roadblocks surrounding Las Cruces within an hour of the shooting and carefully screened anyone leaving the city. The U.S. Customs Service, the Army, and Border Patrol searched the area with planes and helicopters. No suspects were found, and no arrests were made.
Shortly after the murders, rumors began circulating that Ronald Senac, the owner of Las Cruces Bowl (and father of Stephanie), was involved in shady business dealings. Police investigation of Senac led to nothing but dead ends. According to Detective Mark Meyers, “We put Ronald Senac under a microscope, and we couldn’t find anything.”
Like the Austin, Texas, yogurt shop murders I profiled recently, the fire and efforts to extinguish it destroyed much evidence. As forensic technology improves, detectives hope that some of the evidence recovered from the scene at the time will lead them to the killers.
At one point, Las Cruces Bowl underwent a name change and became 10 Pin Alley. Today, the building sits abandoned.
No one has ever been charged in the Las Cruces bowling alley murders. Thirty-three years later, Las Cruces police still receive tips about the case. So far, none of them have led to a suspect or an arrest.
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