Alice Police Chief Rex Ramon held a press conference Monday morning on the long awaited arrest in the cold case murder of Alice Police Officer Matthew (Matt) Murphy.
After 43 years, police arrested 70-year-old Roberto Lopez in the murder of Officer Murphy who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Dec. 1, 1974.
"We are here today, in regards to the murder of Matt Murphy...Officer Murphy conducted a traffic stop on West Main Street by (Highway) 281. Officer Murphy approached the vehicle and was shot multiple times, officers responded and medical services were dispatched to the scene. Officer Murphy was transported to the hospital were he later passed away due to his injuries," Ramon stated. "...Around January 2017, Texas Ranger Nathan Mutz of the Laredo Office Cold Case Division called my office and wanted to review the case report on Officer Murphy. The case was reviewed and we both agreed that there was sufficient evidence to present to the district's attorney."
When they presented their findings to Jim Wells County District Attorney Carlos Garcia, he advised them to make a trip to verify a statement by a witness before the arrest warrant could be issued.
After the statement was verified, an affidavit was prepared and reviewed by JWC District Judge Richard Terrell who signed the arrest warrant.
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Texas Ranger Mutz, Chief Ramon and Alice Police Department Sgt. Aniceto Perez traveled to Alabama to serve Lopez with the arrest warrant on the capital murder of Officer Murphy.
Lopez had been interviewed several times in regards to the murder of Officer Murphy.
According to Alice PD retired officer Sgt. Reyes Espinoza, 20 years ago they had evidence compiled in the case with Lopez as the suspect, but investigators didn't have help from the district attorney's office at the time.
"The thing is that there was too much politics involved in this case and they wouldn't accept the case," Espinoza stated. "...but things are different know and we have a district attorney who is willingly to help."
Lopez is incarcerated at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Alabama. He is doing life for an armed robbery charge. He also has several alias which include Robert Ramos Jr., Roberto Lopez Ramos and Roberto Ramos Ramirez.
According to court documents, Lopez shot and killed Murphy while on duty as an Alice police officer on Dec. 1, 1974. The documents state that Lopez knew Murphy was a police officer at the time of the shooting.
An autopsy by the medical examiner recovered four .22 caliber bullets from Officer Murphy's body. The bullets hit several major organs.
According to sources, Murphy was searching for a vehicle with narcotics that was passing through town when he conducted a traffic stop with a possible yellow vehicle.
Another officer found Murphy suffering from four gunshot wounds after the initial traffic stop. Murphy was transported to a local hospital, where he later died in the emergency room at the old Alice P&S Hospital leaving behind a wife and two children.
According to Chief Ramon and other police officials, Chief Compton received a letter from an Alabama prison warden with information about the shooting death of an Alice officer prompting the investigation.
Officer Murphy's children were not at the press conference, but instead discussed the case with officers at the police station behind closed doors. They did not have comments.
The next step in the case is to be presented to the grand jury once the case is turned into his office.
"It's already been this long. We're going to take the time necessary," Garcia stated. "We aren't going to rush anything. The time to rush was 40 years ago..."
Garcia is unsure if his office will seek the death penalty in this case.