Police seek information in 2017 cold case of fatal stabbing by Red Lion Inn

Extensive investigation has yielded little evidence

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
A photo courtesy of the Farmington Police Department shows the area where 40-year-old Eugene Harrison was stabbed to death on July 12, 2017. It was around or at a picnic table behind the shuttered Red Lion Inn near the riverwalk in Farmington.
  • Eugene Harrison, 40, of Farmington, was killed on July 12, 2017, behind the shuttered Red Lion Inn.
  • Law enforcement officials at the time did not release much information on the investigation.
  • Anyone with information is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Police Department hopes there are members of the public who have information that would help solve a 2017 cold case in which a man was stabbed to death behind a closed Farmington hotel.

Eugene Harrison, 40, of Farmington, was killed on July 12, 2017, behind the shuttered Red Lion Inn at 700 Scott Ave., according to The Daily Times archives.

Farmington police were dispatched around 3:40 p.m. that day on reports of a man who had been stabbed.

Harrison was taken to the San Juan Regional Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

Law enforcement officials at the time did not release much information about the investigation as they worked to identify a suspect, according to Detective Chris Blea.

Blea spoke to The Daily Times about the status of the investigation. He said detectives have struggled to obtain eyewitnesses and physical evidence as they racked up nearly 3,000 hours on the case.

There are some details — including the number of stab wounds, where Harrison was stabbed and information on the knife — investigators are not sharing with the public.

Some of that information could be key to identifying a suspect and charging that person with Harrison’s homicide, Blea said the suspect might be the only person who knows that information.

Eugene Harrison

“(Harrison’s family) feels like the investigation, you know, is kind of frozen in time,” Blea said.

The detective was able to share some details about the fatal incident.

Harrison, a male relative of his and a third man appeared to be consuming alcohol behind the Red Lion Inn on the afternoon of July 12, 2017. The unidentified man is believed by police to be the suspect.

They were sitting at a picnic table behind the hotel, near the riverwalk.

The relative left Harrison and the unidentified man alone to get some water. When the relative returned, he noticed Harrison was positioned in a different way.

A Farmington police officer patrolling the riverwalk passed by the men and noticed Harrison had been stabbed.

The relative has been interviewed at least 10 times by law enforcement. No reputable witnesses have stepped up to say they witnessed the homicide, Blea said.

The relative is one of 20 people who have been interviewed so far in the case. Trying to put together any description of the subject has been difficult, Blea said.

Farmington police believe the suspect is possibly a young Native American or Hispanic male with short black hair, who was wearing a black T-shirt during the incident.

Blea said he believes the suspect was probably 20 years old or younger at the time of the incident, as the suspect reportedly was very aggressive about having some of the alcohol the two men were drinking.

Blea also described the suspect as being dressed “real clean” and didn’t appear to be “from the street.” He believes the suspect was not homeless or a street inebriate who typically travels to Farmington to drink alcohol for a couple of days before returning home.

The knife used to kill Harrison has not been located, according to Blea. Investigators canvassed the nearby area with a metal detector four times trying to locate the murder weapon.

One search was conducted in the Animas River when it was nearly dry, but the weapon was not found. The search included the nearby mobile home park and stretched out into the McCormick School Road area.

The area near organizations like Daily Bread, and Catholic Charities on South Behrend Avenue and West Broadway Avenue also were searched.

“The hardest part about this case is that there is not a lot of evidence,” Blea said. “There wasn’t a lot of evidence on scene. It’s a highly trafficked area. There wasn’t unique footprints. It’s a brick area.”

Blea hopes the increased attention on the case can help bring closure for Harrison’s family, who he has kept in contact with during the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e