FARMINGTON — The 17-year-old son of Farmington's city manager was arrested Friday and confessed to bludgeoning a local doctor to death with a pool cue.

John Mayes faces charges of murder in the first degree after he allegedly snuck into the home of retired Dr. James Nordstrom late Thursday night and lay in wait for nearly an hour before the killing.

Investigators, following the teen's confession, discovered the body of Nordstrom, 57, hidden in the woodpile of his home on San Marcos Drive in the prominent Foothills neighborhood, San Juan County Sheriff's Capt. Tim Black said.

Mayes, son of City Manager Rob Mayes, described the killing and disposal of the body to investigators in an interview Friday evening at the state police office in Farmington, Black said.

Mayes said that around 10 p.m. Thursday, he was running away from home, and while walking in the Foothills neighborhood found a house in a secluded area.

The teen reportedly entered a rear bedroom of the home through an unlocked door. From the bedroom he saw a man sitting in a chair in the living room watching television, according to police records.

Black said Mayes left the bedroom, which was "brazen because he could have been seen," and armed himself with a pool cue from the table in the next room.

"Evidence indicates he unscrewed the pool cue and held on to the thicker end," Black said.

The teen then waited for nearly an hour before Nordstrom entered the bedroom, according to police records.


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"When he came into the room, we believe Mayes hits him in the head," Black said. The first blow likely came from behind, but there were extensive injuries to both the front and back of Nordstrom's head, he said.

Investigators found blood spattered on the walls and in poolson the bedroom floor.

Mayes tossed the pool cue off the back balcony of the house and sat "in the lounge chair to watch television" while eating a tomato, according to police records.

Based on evidence and Mayes' statement, deputies believe he rolled up Nordstrom's body in a rug and attempted to move it. However, he was unable to because it was too heavy and unwieldy.

Mayes then left the house about midnight in Nordstrom's Ford F-150 pickup truck, which was parked in the garage.

Mayes allegedly parked the truck in the hills and slept for the next four hours before returning to the house about 4 a.m., Black said.

Evidence suggests Mayes attempted to clean up the copious pools of blood in the bedroom once he returned. He disposed of his bloody clothes and changed into a clean shirt and shorts that he brought with him in his backpack, according to police records.

Mayes also told investigators he attempted to dig a hole in the hills behind the house, but abandoned the digging and instead dragged the rug with the body in it out the door he used to enter the house.

The teen reportedly told police he had unrolled the body because it kept slipping out of the rug.

Drag marks left on the floor inside the house indicated Mayes ultimately used a suitcase with wheels to move the body outside.

That suitcase was found at the scene, Black said.

Deputies also located the bloody rug, the pool cue and other evidence at the residence.

Police said Mayes took $230 from Nordstrom's wallet and used the doctor's credit card to purchase a Mac computer, an iPod touch and songs downloaded from iTunes.

Mayes' father obtained a receipt for the purchases from the teen's email and provided it to deputies, according to police records.

Farmington police initially responded after Nordstrom's friends called 911 about 11 a.m. Friday.

The three friends told police that unusual circumstances, including a closed security gate, led them to search the home, where they discovered blood, according to police records.

One of the men found what he believed was wet blood and human flesh by the front door, police said.

Police issued an alert to locate Nordstrom's truck, which was missing from the garage.

A San Juan County Sheriff's deputy spotted the truck, driven by Mayes, at the McDonald's drive-through on E. Main Street about 1 p.m.

At the time Mayes was found, police did not know Nordstrom's whereabouts or whether he was alive.

Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque will conduct an autopsy, but it is likely Nordstrom died from extensive head trauma, Black said.

The investigation is being conducted by the Sheriff's Office, assisted by the state police.

This is not Mayes' first encounter with the law.

On Sept. 4 and 5, 2010, Mayes broke into several businesses and residences in a two-day crime spree, according to police records.

The teen was accused of entering two residences on Hannon Drive, Kentucky Fried Chicken on East Main Street and San Juan Concrete on West Elm Street. He allegedly stole a blue four-wheeler and broke into a 2006 white Chevrolet Trailblazer that belonged to the city of Bloomfield, according to court records.

Police charged Mayes with two counts of burglary of a dwelling, burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a structure, breaking and entering, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle worth less than $2,500, and disposing of stolen property.

Mayes and his father spoke with Farmington Detective Wilson Charley, and the teen confessed to the crimes.

The teen, at the time, said he was running away from home.

Charges were dismissed when Mayes was accepted at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.

Upon his release from the military institute this summer, Mayes' family, in an effort to secure intensive residential treatment in a structured therapeutic environment, decided to send the teen to the New Mexico Boys Ranch in Belen, a family spokesman said. He was on break from the New Mexico Boys Ranch this past week and was due to return next week.

Mayes' family released a statement on Saturday regarding the arrest.

"There are no words that could possibly express our grief, sorrow, and remorse to the family and loved ones of Dr. Nordstrom," the statement said. "We could never have imagined, 12 years ago, when we left a Ukrainian orphanage hoping to provide a new life for a 5 year old little boy, that such tragic events, bringing unspeakable pain to so many, could have occurred. We could never condone or excuse these actions; however, we will always love John and he remains our son. We continue to fully cooperate with the investigation and adjudication of this matter to its fullest."

"It's a tragedy of the highest order," Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts said Saturday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nordstrom family and with the Mayes family."

Roberts added that he is "100 percent supportive" of the city manager and hopes the community is, too.

The Nordstroms are longtime Farmington residents, Roberts said.

"They've been very active in the community, and this is a loss that we really regret," he said.

James Nordstrom lived alone in the house on San Marcos Drive. His parents live in Farmington, and his father has the same name.

Nordstrom was elected class president before he graduated from Farmington High School in 1971, the doctor's friend Arlon Stoker said.

"He was a really good guy, real smart," Stoker said. The two used to pal around together and as teens would sneak into churches to play basketball, he said.

Mayes remains in custody at the San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center. He is charged with a open count of murder in the first degree, second-degree felony aggravated burglary, third-degree felony tampering with evidence, fourth-degree felony unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and third-degree felony fraudulent use of a credit card.

Elizabeth Piazza:

epiazza@daily-times.com