Judge orders detention for father accused of killing son during custody exchange

Father allegedly smothered child with a pillow

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Fernando Azofeifa whispers to his attorney Thursday during a District Court hearing  in Aztec.
  • Fernando Azofeifa, 45, is charged with an open count of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in two separate cases, according to court records.
  • The preliminary hearing and pre-trial detention hearing were held this morning in Aztec District Court.
  • Chief District Judge Karen Townsend ordered Azofeifa be held without bond pending trial.

AZTEC — A San Juan County Sheriff's Office detective testified today that a Farmington man accused of murder said he killed his five-year-old son by smothering him with a pillow.

The sometimes graphic testimony detailing events before and after the child's death came a during a nearly three-hour-long hearing in Aztec District Court.

Fernando Azofeifa, 45, is charged with an open count of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in two separate cases, according to court records.

He is accused of pointing a rifle at his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend during a custody exchange Saturday afternoon, and of killing his son Sunday morning in a Farmington apartment, according to court documents.

The preliminary hearing and pre-trial detention hearing were held this morning before Chief District Judge Karen Townsend, who ordered that the two cases be bound over to district court and that Azofeifa be held without bond pending trial.

Original coverage:Farmington man arrested in his child's murder

Multiple people testified, including the mother of the child and her boyfriend, along with members of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office involved in the cases.

Fernando Azofeifa

Detective Mike Rietz testified that Azofeifa told him he killed his son around 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Rietz was one of the detectives who interviewed Azofeifa after he was arrested.

Azofeifa was taken into custody Sunday afternoon at an apartment in the 2600 block of North Dustin Avenue in Farmington, according to court documents.

Rietz added Azofeifa confessed to smothering the child with a pillow while the child was on the bed in a bedroom. The child's body was found in a bathtub. 

Evidence submitted during the hearing stated an official cause of death is still pending.

The father wanted full custody of his son, but the mother said no, according to Rietz.

Testimony from witnesses detailed how Azofeifa failed to bring the child back to the mother's residence Sunday morning and how she received a few phone calls and text messages from Azofeifa.

The mother testified one of the text messages from Azofeifa stated she would never see her son alive again.

The message was received about 12:53 p.m., according to court documents.

She believed Azofeifa was jealous of her current relationship with her boyfriend, and that the boyfriend being friendly with the child.

Azofeifa pointed a firearm at the boyfriend Saturday afternoon when Azofeifa was at a Kirtland residence to pick up the child, according to the boyfriend's testimony.

The arrest warrant affidavit states Azofeifa got "verbally aggressive" toward the boyfriend before getting his firearm.

Azofeifa then left the scene at a high rate of speed, according to court documents.

Azofeifa was employed as a golf professional at the Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland. 

He submitted his resignation on Monday, according to San Juan County Spokesperson Devin Neeley.

The Navajo Preparatory School's website on Monday listed a Fernando Azofeifa Archibald as the Head Golf Coach. Since then, his biography has been removed from the website. 

The school cannot comment on personnel matters, Head of School Shawna Becenti told The Daily Times in a statement.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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