The beating deaths of two homeless men in Albuquerque, N.M., this week, exposed some of the profound social ills, including alcoholism, abject poverty, and neglect, that have long plagued New Mexico, says the New York Times. Since 1997, the state has led the nation in the number of alcohol-related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is a large homeless population and, in a strange twist, a man named Victor Prieto, who identified himself as the father of two boys who were arrested in the killings along with a third teen, told KOB-TV in Albuquerque that he and the boys had been homeless at one point.
Police said that such a vicious attack by three teenagers was staggering and callous in its brutality. The only motive the teenagers supplied for the attack was that one of the boys was angry because he had just broken up with a girlfriend. A 16-year-old boy allegedly threw dirt on the victims' faces and said, “Eat mud.” Albuquerque police officer Simon Drobik said detectives had been combing through reports of assaults on homeless people to see if any may be linked to the three suspects accused of the weekend's killings. He said that the younger boys had “minor stains” on their juvenile records, mostly for truancy and marijuana possession, and that the third suspect “had never been in too much trouble.” “They just seemed to be lost kids,” Drobik said.