Patrick Lynch is the witness I wished I had located prior to publishing the first edition of my book. He had information that was truly valuable and convinced me to release a “revised first edition” of the book in February 2022 with the more accurate information about where Dianne Brown fled after she had been shot and the events that unfolded at the Serna home. It doesn't really change the story but would probably have more meaning to anyone who lived in Gallup at the time.
When I started the book, the crime scene in Gallup was the hardest of all the locations for me to gather information on. I had trouble locating any witnesses, but I did find two written sources of information that proved very helpful. The first was a pair of newspaper columns written by Theodore Rushton, who was the managing editor for the Gallup Independent newspaper at the time. Ted was with a Gallup police sergeant on the day that Greenberg brought his one-man crime wave to town. Editor Rushton rode along with the sergeant to the scene at the Serna residence, where Diane Brown had fled after being shot. He also later went to the abandoned coal mine north of Mentmore and remained there for several hours while the law officers searched for Mr. Brown’s body. Second, I was also able to get a copy of New Mexico State Police Special Investigator Fred Garcia’s official report of his investigation around Gallup and Grants. He was very helpful in not only explaining in detail about what had occurred in Gallup, but he also put a timeline on events.
Neither Rushton, nor Garcia, identified the exact location of the Serna residence. They only said that it was a rural farm house, approximately 1.5 to 2 miles from the murder scene, and near a Whiting Brothers gas station. Because I found the Serna family in a city directory living in Gamerco a few years later, and because Gamerco is about 2 miles east of Mentmore and had a Whiting Brothers gas station, I thought I had pinpointed the Serna residence, and that is how I reported it in the first edition of my book.
After my book was published, Patrick Lynch contacted me to tell me that I had the location of the Serna house all wrong. He was 11 years old in 1971 and a neighbor to the Serna family down near the wastewater treatment plant in west Gallup along the Puerco River. He was there the night that the police came to the Serna residence to help Dianne Brown. He had a very vivid memory of that night. The Serna family later stayed at the Lynch home for several hours before anyone knew where the madman had gone, and Pat heard the family tell the story in detail about the woman coming to their house shot and bloodied, and how Tom Serna had to drive to the Whiting Brothers station at 3120 W. Highway 66 to summon the police, because the family didn’t have a telephone. He also attended the same school (Aileen Roat Elementary) with the Serna children and Mrs. Serna worked at the school as well.
Pat also told me about an incident the next day, when his mother, his older brother and he went to the Mentmore store and post office to get the mail. They drove up Mentmore Road curiously looking for the scene where the murder had happened. They saw a Sheriff’s Department patrol car parked along a gravel road running east off of Mentmore Road and stopped and talked to two deputies that were there looking for the stolen Arizona Highway patrolman’s service revolver. They were there when one of the deputies found the gun. They also were shown the location of the murder scene by the deputies, which was near an abandoned coal mine once called New Mine and the murder scene was only about one-half mile north of the Puerco River Bridge off of Mentmore Road. Today, there is a trailhead to a popular mountain bike trail about ¼ miles from the murder scene. In my revised first edition, I changed the information on page 111 in Chapter 8 (Aces and Eights) about what happened to Dianne Brown after waking up from being shot. I also added three paragraphs near the end of Chapter 11 (Aftershock) where I describe the deputies finding Officer Keeton’s service weapon while the members of the Lynch family were present.
The picture with this blog post was taken last month and it is me and Pat Lynch at the retirement village where he lives in Los Lunas, NM. Pat is a retired railroad engineer who once worked for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. He invited me to Los Lunas on my book promotional tour for a signing event, and I took this picture with him at their clubhouse. He was a very helpful witness and allowed me to tie all of the details of the Gallup murder scene together. As an added bonus, a high school classmate and one of the cheerleader witnesses to the murder of the second patrolman, Amelia Ortega Crowther, also lives in the same community as Pat, and she was at the Los Lunas book signing as well. Amelia and Pat and their spouses had been friends for years, and until I wrote my book, neither of them knew the other was involved as a witness to the same horrible chain of events 50+ years ago.