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State police identify 'person of interest' in death of World Cup owner

Arrest could come soon

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Updated Sept. 1 at 11 a.m.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday (Sept. 1), 8th Judicial District Attorney Marcus Montoya said New Mexico State Police did not have a suspect connected to this case and no warrants had been obtained for their arrest.

An arrest could be imminent in connection to the death of Patrick Larkin, the 63-year-old owner of World Cup Café in Taos whose body was found by the roadside in Llano Quemado this week.

"We're looking at a person right now," said Mark Soriano, New Mexico State Police Public Information Officer, on Friday afternoon (Aug. 30). "We have a person of interest in the case."

Soriano said that individual had not been detained or arrested as of 6 p.m. Friday, but said state police hopes that an arrest will come soon in the case.

Investigators who have been looking into the suspected homicide over the past 72 hours have done so largely in secret in an effort to protect their investigation, which remained open and active as of Friday evening.

Soriano said homicide investigations are often complex and require time for investigators to gather evidence and conduct interviews, which usually happens out of view of the public eye.

But the lack of immediate answers from the agency has also exacerbated fears among members of the small community south of Taos where Larkin had lived; some residents in the area have wondered if someone dangerous – or potentially murderous – might still be on the loose.

"At this point, New Mexico State Police doesn't believe that anyone in the public is in danger," Soriano said, but would not elaborate on his assurance that whoever is responsible for Larkin's death no longer poses a threat.

A day after he reportedly left his home before dawn Tuesday morning (Aug. 26) to check on a goat in his yard, Larkin's body was found by members of Taos Search and Rescue in the sagebrush several feet from Cuchilla Road. Larkin had lived about a mile east from where his body was located.

Soriano would not answer questions regarding the condition Larkin's body was found in, which could shed light on the shape the investigation is taking – specifically, whether Larkin appeared to have been killed intentionally, or by accident.  "Homicide," as it is legally defined, covers a broad range of scenarios that include negligent or reckless behavior leading to another person's death.

While state and county officers who convened in large numbers  near Cuchilla Road on Wednesday (Aug. 28) have since cleared away from the scene, a possible clue remains.

A half mile to the east of where Larkin's body was found, blood can be seen on the roadway near where Cuchilla Road intersects Las Tusas Road. Law enforcement said investigators took a sample from the area, but do not yet know whether it is Larkin's or an animal's.

A resident in the neighborhood where Larkin's body was found said she has wondered if the 63-year-old had been struck by a vehicle that later left the scene. The road has no street lights or speed bumps along that section of Cuchilla Road and people often drive it at a high rate of speed.

Meanwhile, the popular coffee shop Larkin founded with a former partner near Taos Plaza has kept its doors open this week. The small cafe has seen a steady stream of longtime customers, former employees and friends over the past few days crowd into the small space, which is known as a central social hub in the Taos historic district.

One employee, Uma DeTullio, and fellow baristas have been accepting flowers, photos of Larkin and notes expressing condolences from many of the visitors.

"Patrick was an awesome boss and an awesome friend," DeTullio said. "He made World Cup very sustainable. He supported local businesses. He took pride in quality in everything. Anybody who knew Patrick knew he was an amazing human being."

Larkin's family has asked for privacy as they grieve and plan services.

This is a developing story.

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