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  • Chris McAndrew

UNSOLVED - Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

On February 10, 1990 two armed men walked into a bowling alley in Las Cruces, New Mexico where workers and kids were getting ready for a busy day. When the gunmen walked back out there were multiple bodies on the floor in the Las Cruces Bowl office. The men apparently never found what they were looking for, but still managed to kill four people at the alley with a fifth victim dying years later. We cordially invite you to come along as we tell you the story of the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre.

The manager of the bowling alley at the time was a 34-year-old woman by the name of Stephanie Senac. She showed up here around 8 that morning with her daughter 12-year-old Melissa Repass along with Melissa’s good friend 13-year-old Amy Houser. The two girls were going to be helping out watching younger kids during the day at the bowling alley’s daycare center. Obviously they were a bit young to be working, but since Melissa’s mom was the manager, and her grandfather Ronald was the owner, they were able to take part in the family business.

Stephanie headed to her office where she was going through receipts and other paperwork from the previous night and getting the money counted and ready to be deposited at the bank. 33-year-old cook Ida Holguin was getting food ready in the kitchen area. Ida wasn’t supposed to be here that Saturday morning. She normally worked the late shift, but had agreed to come in early to help get ready for the group of more than fifty kids from the Las Cruces Youth Bowling League who were expected to be at the bowling alley that day.

The girls never made it to the vending machines. Amy only lived a few minutes longer while Melissa’s life and really the history of the entire town of Las Cruces was changed forever.

As the girls were heading for the vending machines they saw evil in the flesh when two men entered the front doors of the bowling alley. Stephanie hadn’t ever made it to the front doors to lock them as her brother Steve Senac had told her to do when he stopped by that morning.

Both of the men were holding guns. The younger man left and made his way to the kitchen where he found Ida preparing the food.

Stephanie was still working in her office when she looked up and saw her daughter, along with Amy and the older man walk in. A short time later the younger man and Ida arrived. The men ordered all four of the young ladies to lay down on the floor. That’s when the men started going through the office drawers, then eventually they did turn their attention to the safe where they took 4 to 5 thousand dollars in cash.

The men then ordered all 7 people to kneel down on the floor with their heads on the floor. They then began shooting, firing dozens of bullets with all seven of the victims each being hit multiple times including at least once each in the head. Two-year-old Valerie was not facing the floor though. She was shot in the forehead which means these two vile evil monsters were looking at the face of a toddler when they shot her.

Next the men gathered up some papers on the office desk and set them on fire. Then they left. That is when 12-year-old Melissa was somehow able to crawl her way over to the phone on the desk and call 911, just as she had been taught to do at school a week earlier, even though she too had been shot multiple times including in her head. Just a warning before we play the 911 call. This is a difficult call to listen to, and it does last for several minutes, but we feel it’s best to play the majority of the call rather than edit it down. (See video to hear 911 call).

Truly amazing to hear this little 12-year-old girl handle the 911 call so well from giving the address and name of the business to describing the men as being black men, and although later it seems it was determined they were likely Hispanic, but probably looked darker, to counting the number of people shot, and going through other emotions including saying please hurry my mommy during that phone call.

The other interesting thing is the police arrived at the end of that call which was only about four minutes long. So they showed up to the bowling alley in less than four minutes.

When they first arrived obviously their goal was to save anyone they could and to put out the fire. So right away paramedics were working on the victims while firefighters were spraying water to put out the fire. The amount of people running around touching things, spraying things and moving bodies and people destroyed much of the evidence that was left behind. Also back then they weren’t as advanced with crime solving methods as they are now. They were able to get fingerprints, some footprints and shell casings from the scene, but since it was a public bowling alley, the fingerprints and footprints didn’t end up being helpful to the investigation.

Steven Teran, Amy Houser, and Paula Holguin were all declared dead at the scene. Valerie Teran was rushed to the hospital, but was declared dead about 45 minutes later. Thanks to Melissa’s 911 call and the quick response of emergency workers she was saved even though she was correct in the phone call when she said she had been shot five times. She spent eleven days in the hospital before being released. Her mom survived and Ida did as well after spending about six months in the hospital.

Police also looked at similarities to another recent murder in the area.

Police decided the two cases weren’t connected although the shooting at the gas station has also never been solved.

Ronald even posed for a picture for the local paper of himself standing in the very same office where the murders occured. He had gotten it cleaned up and seemed proud of himself. Because of his strange behavior, police started looking into him. There were rumors he was involved in organized crime and drugs. Detective Mark Myers once told a newspaper “Thousands and thousands of man hours went into trying to prove those theories, but we couldn’t prove anything.”

Investigators looked into RJ as well, but couldn’t tie him to the murders either.

As we mentioned earlier the men did leave some money behind and seemed very interested in finding something else in the office. Was it drugs they were looking for?

If you were planning to rob a business for cash would you do so before the business is even open for the day? Why would they rob a bowling alley first thing in the morning? Did they know there would still be a lot of cash there rather than it being removed the night before or were they not concerned about the cash?

It’s also a bit of weird timing that Steven Senac showed up and removed a backpack just moments before the men arrived. Was what they were looking for in that backpack?

In January of 1991 the bank auctioned off the bowling alley. Ron had gone bankrupt and was two million dollars in debt. It was bought and reopened for a while as Sun Lanes then was called Ten Pin Alley. It has now been shut down for several years.

Questions about Ron’s potential involvement in the murders started up again after the bankruptcy. At the auction Amy Houser’s mother Gloria stood outside with a sign reading “Non-payment may have cost four lives. Justice?”

In March of that year a man by the name of James Chapman was murdered at Rio Rancho Lanes in New Mexico which was owned by Ron Senac at one point until he had to close it down in another bankruptcy a few years earlier. Chapman had been the custodian of that bowling alley. Police later decided Senac was not to blame for that murder.

Here is another look at the sketches of the men released by the police. As crazy and awful as it seems to even imagine, this case has never been solved.

We are going to end this video at the grave of Amy Houser who was 13-years-old when she was murdered at the bowling alley. We’ll put the contact and reward information below if you have any information at all that may help police solve this case please contact them.

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