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Brother can never ‘get over it’

Bowling alley massacre remains unsolved after 31 years

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As the 31st year since two children, their father and others were murdered at the Las Cruces Bowling Alley slips by, Anthony Teran, brother of Steve Teran who died that Feb. 10 with his daughters, still lives with the knowledge and memory of that event.

"A Nightmare in Las Cruces" a movie made by director Charlie Minn about the 1990 bowling alley shooting in Las Cruces is back at the Bassett Place Mall theater in El Paso, continuing through Feb. 18.

Every time the movie is shown some new bits of information surface and the police receive tidbits on the case, Teran said.

On the morning of that Feb. 10, 34-year-old Stephanie C. Senac, the bowling alley manager, was in her office preparing to open with her 12-year-old daughter, Melissa Repass, and Melissa's 13-year-old friend, Amy Houser. The alley's cook, Ida Holguin, was in the kitchen when two men entered through an unlocked door. One pulled a .22-caliber pistol on Holguin and ordered her into Senac's office, where she, Repass and Houser were already being held by another gunman.

Soon after, Steve Teran, the alley's 26-year-old mechanic, entered with his two daughters, two-year-old Valerie Teran and six-year-old Paula Holguin. He went into Senac's office and stumbled onto the crime scene. The gunmen then shot all seven victims multiple times in the head at point-blank range. They then set the office on fire by igniting some papers before leaving the building.

Houser, Steve Teran, and his two daughters were killed. Repass, despite being shot five times, called 9-1-1 on the office phone, allowing emergency services to respond immediately and saving her life along with her mother's and Holguin's. Senac died in 1999 due to complications from her injuries.

“There are a lot of theories as to what happened,” Anthony Teran said last week. “We have got a lot of feedback on theories. The three most prevailing is it was some kind of hit that came down. One minute I think it’s a mob hit or drug hit and then maybe not.”

Anthony said there were two “nobodies” who had been living nearby, squatting with another local, and thinks its possible they just decided they needed that money and knew when it was going to be taken to the bank.

“I had aerial photos taken,” Anthony said. “The bowling alley is sitting in a dirt lot. You are talking a Saturday morning and if money was the main objective somebody knew [the routine].”

There are witness statements, he said, about this lady who had housed these guys on Texas Street. And some people feared retribution.

“Cars had to stop to let the guy run across the street,” he said. “They (the shooters) were either lucky or out of towners.”

This is the worst unsolved crime involving children in U.S. history, he said. It haunts him that the girls probably had to witness everything happening before they were shot.

“My brother and his daughters had every right to be somebody and do something with their lives,” Anthony said. “Every day affects my life. We have pictures on the walls – every day I see them and it doesn’t go away. Every conversation always comes around to something my brother did or said.”

Sometimes Anthony pulls out a photo of his brother in the military and looks at it and “he tells me to do the right thing.”

The right thing for Anthony and his family is to see the case solved. He said people tell him to “just get over it,” but he can’t do that.

“I don’t do it to put my face on TV,” he said. “If my brother could tell me anything, he is telling me, ‘justice for my girls.’”

 “At this point, I am at a total loss of words,” Film director Minn said,  “I will just throw out the question what should we do? The city has to do more to help solve this for the families. After 31 years I don’t think I’m out of line here. Maybe the city leaders in Las Cruces need to come together and try new things. There has to be something to go on to give the police department some hope.

“We had children massacred. How can anyone in Las Cruces go along their normal day knowing this hasn’t been solved.”