Chapter 1: Community on Edge
Sierra Vista Daily News
Copper Mine Massacre Still Unsolved as Feds Arrive in Terrified Community
By Louise Jones
The FBI task force checked into the Copper Queen Hotel late last night, ready to take over what people are now calling the Copper Mine Massacre. Detective Samuel Roach is scheduled to meet with the task force where both local police and the FBI will be working together to solve the murders of the nine tourists that occurred just one week ago.
It has only been seven days since nine tourists were found brutally murdered during a regular mining tour inside the Lavender Pit. Local police have been working 24/7 but still have no leads, leaving the local community double checking the locks on their doors at night. “No community should be afraid to leave their homes,” Chief of Police Emilio Vasquez said, “We will offer the full cooperation and support with the Feds to ensure that peace and justice is restored to our proud and historic home.”
Many victims to this horrific tragedy hit close to home with local Sierra Vista school teacher Sarah Mason, 26 and her husband Richard 31. The tour group also included the Ibanez family from Elgin, Jesus, 40, Marisol, 36, and their three children Maria, Angel, and Gabriel; all three children were under the age of ten. Travel writer and photographer Eric Gregory, 34, was also on the tour. Many community churches and local organizations continue to hold vigils.
The police have also disclosed that the tour guide--name undisclosed--is, in fact, missing, and presumed dead. Detective Samuel Roche, lead investigator, had this to say, “Either the missing tour guide is another victim or he is our lead suspect. We are still gathering evidence.”
Roche refused to comment further.
The tragedy has also had a major impact on the normally busy October tourist season leaving Tombstones famous “El Dorado Days” at a record low attendance. Other tourist areas have also experienced a stark drop in visitors including Kartchner Caverns, the Cochise Stronghold, and old Fort Huachuca.
“The lack of visitors has less to do with the tragedy and more to do with today’s economy. Out of town visitors has been on a steady decline for years. People are just not traveling these days,” John Anderson of the County’s tourism bureau said. Many local hotels reported having record high cancellations, while many other tourism shops and businesses continue to struggle with income.
Nonetheless, the town of Bisbee continues to hold a collective breath hoping for the police to crack this tragedy wide open.
The lone car strode only slightly over the speed limit northbound on Hwy 80, skirting what was perhaps ugliest hole in the world known as the Lavender Pit. It was not visible this time of night as the full October moon started to crest over the eastern desert peaks. Even the headlights of the unmarked police car seemed to shrink away from the Pit, as if knowing the truth of what happened there.
Detective Roche stepped on the gas speeding past the crime scene as he flipped the automatic window switch, letting the rush of the crisp autumn air fill his senses. Just thinking about the scene in those mines made his stomach roil—crime scenes never made him sick, but this one… Jesus… this one; no one could have been prepared for that.
That is, no one except the one who did it. Anger turned the detective’s skin flush and the hairs on his arms prickled. Whoever was responsible for that scene down there would not see a trial. Oh no, whoever did that would not even make it into a jail cell. He did not even care if it cost him his badge, his freedom, or if he found his own way onto death row for it. His resolve was firm. Whoever slaughtered those people was an animal and needed to be put down. Period.
Dark thoughts flooded Roche’s thoughts even as he pulled into the dingy parking lot of Bob’s Diner in the tourist district of Bisbee, Arizona. Most businesses, small and locally owned were closing early since the tragedy, though it seemed that Bob was confident that his business would thrive while other owners huddled in their own homes. The streets were relatively empty from the usual tourist bustle. The entire town seemed to be waiting for an answer, a resolution. However, despite efforts the police had no clues, no leads and nothing to ease the minds of the public. It all might as well have been some random animal attack for all they could discern.
Roche slid out of the car about as soon as he put it into park and strode inside his shoulders tense and brow furrowed. He raked his fingers through his disheveled red hair, showing hints of white at the roots. Hit gray shirt, with rolled-up sleeves and dark brown slacks were wrinkled as if he’d not changed in days, and his plain blue tie hung low more like a necklace.
Once inside, he ignored the “please wait to be seated” sign noting that the diner was essentially empty and made his way directly to a swivel chair at the diner’s bar. He sat slouching over the table, and tossed a waded dollar bill and two quarters onto the table. Exhausted as he was, it was going to be yet another all-nighter and he was pretty sure that coffee was his last ally in the entire world.