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Officer Matt Murphy murder case is closed

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

The investigation into the murder of Alice police Officer Matthew (Matt) Murphy is now closed, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

Alice police Officer Matthew Murphy was killed on Dec. 1, 1974 during the line of duty.

In 2019, former Alice police Chief Aniceto “Cheto” Perez and Texas Ranger Nathan Mutz flew to Alabama to arrest Roberto Lopez for the 1974 murder of Officer Murphy.

Roberto Lopez was arrested and charged with the 1974 death of Alice police Officer Matthew Murphy. Lopez passed away on July 21, 2020 in an Alabama state prison of natural causes.

DPS recently reported that Lopez passed away from natural causes on July 21, 2020 while incarcerated in an Alabama state prison. Lopez had been serving life sentence for armed robbery, an unrelated charge.

“While it’s sad to hear of a person’s passing, we can seek some comfort in knowing that Officer Matt Murphy’s murder case is solved,” Perez said. “Numerous hours and time went into Officer Murphy’s murder investigation. Every part of the investigation was a team effort to give closure and some comfort to Officer Matt Murphy’s family as well as the law enforcement family.”

For 43 years, Murphy's death was classified as a cold case until Texas Ranger Mutz began to review the details of the case.

Lopez is believed to have shot and killed Officer Murphy in the line of duty on Dec. 1, 1974. Officer Murphy was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in the City of Alice.

Officer Murphy was searching for a vehicle with narcotics that was passing through town when he conducted a traffic stop with a possible yellow vehicle 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.

An autopsy by the medical examiner recovered four .22 caliber bullets from officer Murphy's body. The bullets hit several major organs, according to the medical examiner's report. Officer Murphy was transported to the hospital where he later passed away due to his injuries.

Murphy left behind a wife and two children. He was 33 at the time of his death.

Lopez had been interviewed several times in regards to the murder of Officer Murphy.

The murder case against Lopez will be dismissed at the 79th Judicial District Attorney's Office once the office receives the official paperwork from the Alabama state prison, according to Carlos Omar Garcia, Jim Wells County District Attorney.