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FARMINGTON — Farmington police officials announced this week that a person of interest has been identified in the murder of Patsy Taylor 24 years ago.

Stephen Freeman, a Farmington resident and mechanic, was 30 years old on July 10, 1991, when Patsy Taylor was found by police bludgeoned to death at the intersection of Camino Rio and Camina Contenta in the Caminos neighborhood south of the Bloomfield Highway.

According to Farmington police detective Daven Badoni, Freeman — who killed himself in December at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center, where he was being held on charges of methamphetamine possession and aggravated stalking — was a suspect in two separate rapes that occurred in the week preceding Taylor's death and has long been known to police as a person of interest in Taylor's death.

That interest intensified after San Juan County Crimestoppers received an anonymous tip in March identifying Freeman, who was 53 when he died, as Taylor's killer, Badoni said.

Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe said the department is asking the anonymous tipster to come forward and speak with Badoni about the case. He also said now is the time for others with information on the case to come forward.

"Anybody who can remember anything from that time period and their contact with (Freeman) that corroborates, or disputes, his involvement, please contact us," Hebbe said, adding later. "We need to know if we should devote time on him, or move on to other possible suspects."

Freeman's family could not be reached for comment.

Badoni said the joggers raped in the week before Taylor's death both described a suspect that bears a striking resemblance to Freeman.

The victims, a man and a woman, told police their attacker was a white male, approximately 25 years old, 5-foot-10 with sandy blond or light-brown hair and "startling" blue eyes, according to Daily Times archives.

Badoni said nearly a year later, the victims separately identified Freeman as their attacker in a photo array, but prosecutors did not feel the evidence was strong enough to pursue charges against him.

Freeman was later convicted in April 1993 in the rape of two other women and a child, all separate incidents, archives state.

In June 2002, Freeman was again convicted at trial of two counts of criminal sexual contact of a child age 13 or younger, court records state.

"This guy is a proven bad guy, but that doesn't mean he is a bad guy in this case," Hebbe cautioned.

Hebbe said the department is also retesting DNA evidence that was found on Taylor's clothing after her death. A partial DNA result obtained from the right cup of the bra Taylor was previously tested and was "consistent with a mixture of at least two individuals, at least one of which is male."

"We are looking to see if we can get a better profile and see who that profile fits," Hebbe said.

Gina Saied, one of Taylor's three daughters, said in an interview she was excited by the progress made in the case.

"I hope somebody will come forward," she said. "I really believe that this crime is solvable."

Badoni can be contacted by telephone at 505-599-1019. Information can also be provided to San Juan County Crime Stoppers at 505-334-8477.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.

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