By Tony Parra and David Stevens
Jim Good knew something was wrong when his good friends Odis and Doris Newman didn’t show up to the Senior Citizen Center on Thursday.
The Newmans, long-time operators of Valley Electric in Portales, have been missing since Wednesday. Human remains were found in the trunk of their car on Thursday morning. Law-enforcement officials have not identified the remains, but friends and family fear the worst.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said at Monday’s Roosevelt County Crime Stoppers meeting that officials hope to have preliminary autopsy results in the next two to three days, which could identify the bodies. Medical investigators have requested dental records, he said.
Chandler said state police are following up on a “handful” of calls to a crime stoppers line, but no suspects had been arrested as of Monday.
Good said the Newmans went to the Senior Citizen Center every day. He said they played dominoes, billiards and other games and were usually the last ones to leave. Good said he last saw them on Wednesday around 4:30 p.m.
“He is my fishing buddy,” Good said about Odis Newman. “I went with him fishing a lot. I knew Odis and Doris very well. She is very nice, same as he is. They are some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet.”
Good said Odis Newman is one of the best wildlife fishermen in the area and that he has won three times at a wildlife tournament held annually at Conchas Lake.
“In fact, about a week ago we were talking about going to it this year in May,” Good said. “They enjoyed meeting with their group to have breakfast at McDonald’s. It was their gathering place.”
David Sanders, another friend, couldn’t understand why anyone would want to harm either of the Newmans.
“They were the kind of people that would open the door to anybody,” he said. “They figured if somebody knocked on their door, they needed something, so they were there for them.”
Sanders, a Roosevelt County commissioner, said the Newmans came to Roosevelt County in the late 1950s, where they opened an electric shop on the north side of Portales.
“They were good, honest people and they built that shop into a large business,” Sanders said. “They went from starters and generators to electric motors and up to large electric motors and when the sprinkler business got started in Roosevelt County, Odis began to handle (irrigation sprinkler systems).”
Sanders said the Newmans retired about eight years ago, and their daughter and son-in-law run the business now.
He said the community is stunned at the events of last week.
“I know the man (Odis Newman) well,” Sanders said. “If anybody in Roosevelt County didn’t like him, they didn’t know him. He was so fair in business. … He wasn’t the kind of man who would sue somebody when they didn’t pay him — he would just write it off. There’s no telling how many dollars he wrote off when people wouldn’t pay.”
Floyd McAlister, the county’s agriculture extension agent, echoed Sanders’ sentiments.
“Odis was a fellow that was easy to get along with,” McAlister said. “I never knew of anybody that spoke harshly of him. He was a very hard-working, dedicated individual and a good neighbor.”
Good said friends at the Senior Citizen Center are still trying to come to grips with the fact that the couple is missing.
“I think a lot of our seniors are in shock that it would happen to them,” Good said. “I think it’s an eye-opener for them.”