Santa Fe woman still hopes for accountability in brother's 1992 fatal shooting

Apr. 28—Kasia McRoberts has experienced a wide range of emotions over her brother's unsolved slaying.

Samuel Henry Goodrum, 30, who worked as a waiter in Santa Fe, was fatally shot in 1992 after spending an evening at a local club. His body was found in a northeast-side home whose owners were away and said they didn't know him.

"To do such a violent transgression and have no one be accountable — nobody — that is heartbreaking," McRoberts said in a recent interview. "Deep sadness, hopelessness, disappointment, despair — those don't even cover it."

Investigators at the time identified two men as possible suspects in Goodrum's slaying; neither was ever charged with that crime, but both later were convicted in another killing.

Now, more than three decades after Goodrum's death, the homicide could get another look. Both the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office and a new state Cold Case Unit confirmed they are considering a new review. The development comes as parole eligibility approaches for one of the men who had been named as a potential suspect in Goodrum's case file.

McRoberts said she still hopes to see some sort of accountability for her brother's death. But she also sympathizes with inmate Tyrone Smith, now 56, who she believes had a role in her brother's slaying.

Smith and 53-year-old Matt Leroy Brown, the second man law enforcement identified as a possible witness or suspect in the Goodrum case, were each sentenced to life plus 12 years in the brutal killing later in 1992 of Sgt. Jerol Younger Jr., an officer at the Kirtland Air Force Base.

Brown and Smith were indicted by a grand jury in 1994 in Younger's death and convicted two years later. Smith is at the Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility near Clayton and Brown at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility near Las Cruces, according to the state Corrections Department's online inmate database.

"I get no joy knowing that these two now older men are in prison, because I hate our prison system," McRoberts said. "I hope [Smith] gets to go home, and I also don't want him to hurt anybody else — that's what I hope."

Security guards who had arrived at a home in Hyde Park Estates in response to a burglar alarm found Goodrum's body lying on the floor. He had been shot six times with a shotgun, according to reports provided by the sheriff's office.

The couple who owned the home told authorities they didn't know Goodrum and didn't know why he was in their home. They weren't at the residence when his body was discovered.

He had been seen on the night of his death at a former nightclub called Chez What, according to news reports. Witnesses told sheriff's office investigators he had left the club with two women.

Days before his death, investigators wrote in reports, Goodrum — a multiracial man who identified as Black — had been in an altercation at the bar with some of Smith's friends. They had called him racial slurs after he danced with a woman believed to be Smith's ex-girlfriend, investigators said.

McRoberts said the investigator initially in charge of the case seemed invested and confident about bringing Goodrum's killers to justice.

Within weeks, sheriff's office Cpl. Rigo Martinez told her investigators knew "exactly what happened and why" the night her brother died, she said.

As part of the investigation, detectives searched the Albuquerque home of Smith's mother and confiscated a shotgun. But there were no shell casings found at the scene, so ballistics tests were impossible, investigators said.

The Santa Fe County sheriff declined to say at the time whether investigators believed the shotgun had been used to kill Goodrum, but McRoberts said Martinez was confident it was.

Still, the sheriff's office didn't file charges.

McRoberts met with Martinez the following year, she said, and he appeared "angry and defeated."

Speaking with a New Mexican reporter in 1996, after Smith and Brown had been sentenced to life in the Kirtland killing, Martinez expressed hope the development would encourage someone to come forward with information on Goodrum's shooting.

As the years passed, however, the likelihood of charges seemed to slip away. McRoberts' inquiries on the investigation have yielded less and less information, she said.

Martinez died in 2008, according to an obituary.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Denise Womack-Avila — who was working at the agency in a different role at the time of Goodrum's death — said it is reviewing the case to see if there is any information that could be reexamined to develop new leads and reopen the investigation.

She doesn't know what might have stalled the investigation decades ago, she said, but detectives hope to find out.

"We recognize the impact unresolved cases have on family members of victims," Womack-Avila wrote in an email Friday. "Our hope is that in reviewing these cases we can bring some form of justice for the victim and their family."

The state Parole Board holds closed hearings and does not release information to the public on the timeline for an inmate's parole. However, the board notifies victims, who may sit in on parole hearings.

Linda Atkinson, executive director of the New Mexico Victims' Rights Project, who has been working with McRoberts, said she received confirmation from the board a parole hearing is scheduled for Smith in May — about 30 years after he was arrested on a murder charge in Younger's death.

McRoberts said Atkinson's group has been "incredibly emotionally supportive."

"They often don't understand that each crime should carry its own accountability," Atkinson said, referring to law enforcement. "It's as if her brother didn't mean anything, like he didn't exist."

Atkinson requested records on the Goodrum homicide from the sheriff's office in 2023, and she was given 22 pages of initial reports along with a brief report on an autopsy by the state Office of the Medical Investigator.

The reports from deputies, detectives and two park rangers who arrived at the scene after Goodrum's killing give basic details about what was found but no insights into the investigation.

"It leaves a lot more questions; no answers," Atkinson said.

Womack-Avila said the full case file includes interviews, records of evidence collected and other documents from a "very thorough" investigation. She added she recalled how vigorously Martinez had worked on the investigation at the time.

Womack-Avila said the case has been examined for possible reopening in the past as well.

But McRoberts has lost patience with the agency over the unresolved case.

"I would like for the sheriff's department to actively work toward solving this case or allow someone else to do so," she said.

Atkinson asked the state Department of Justice's new Cold Case Unit if it would consider reopening the investigation.

Ashley Sterling, a spokeswoman for the agency, confirmed investigators have been in contact with the sheriff's office in recent weeks, and they are in "preliminary stages" of considering the case for review.

The unit, announced by Attorney General Raúl Torrez earlier this year, aims to help local law enforcement agencies close cold cases by using forensic genealogy on DNA evidence. The investigative techniques sometimes yield new leads in long-unsolved cases.

Goodrum's killing and the investigation by the sheriff's office were chronicled in The New Mexican over several years. McRoberts and her mother shared their frustrations about the investigation into Goodrum's killing in 1995.

"Time's just gone by and nothing's happened," McRoberts told the newspaper that year. "It's painfully obvious that it's not a priority."

Her mother is still alive but is now old and frail, McRoberts said in the recent interview.

"She has never recovered from this," McRoberts said, tearing up. "I want to protect her, in a way, until I have some sort of decent information to give her."