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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 17 - Boogie Oogie Oo-oogie?

Updated: May 4, 2023

SARAH:

The Las Cruces Bowling Alley Murders


Las Cruces Bowl
The Las Cruces Bowling alley where the murders happened.

Typical Day Turns Not So Typical

Like any typical Saturday for 34-year-old Stephanie Senac, her day started at the bowling alley, preparing herself and the building for the busy day ahead of her. Stephanie’s 12-year-old daughter, Melissa Repass, was there with her. The bowling alley was family run, Stephanie was the manager and did the day-to-day errands and general running of the building. Her father, Ron, was the owner of the bowling alley.


Melissa and her friend Amy Houser were in charge of working at the daycare within the bowling alley. They were in the process of preparing the space. Ida, the bowling alley’s chef, was in her kitchen organizing. Turning on the fryers and preparing everything she could that would be needed for the busy day.


Stephanie’s brother and Melissa’s uncle, Steve Senac, had come to the bowling alley to pick up something he had previously left there. When he got there, he saw that the front doors of the alley were open and there were two men walking through the parking lot from the back of the building. He saw a small case pass between the two men, one of which was much older than the other.


Without a second thought, Steve grabbed his belongings and stopped into Stephanie’s office to tell her to keep the doors locked until 9 am. Steven left and continued on with his day.


Just Before the Tragedy

Melissa and Amy were hungry, so they asked Stephanie for change to go buy snacks from the vending machine before patrons started arriving. But they never made it to the machines because they were stopped by two men standing in an open doorway of the bowling alley, holding guns at their sides.


One of the intruders took both girls into the manager’s office. Stephanie was in there working and was surprised and alarmed when the man and 2 girls entered. The second man was off to find the cook, Ida. When he returned holding a terrified Ida at gunpoint with a 22-caliber pistol aimed at her head, the group was told to get on the ground. Very soon after that, Steve Teran came to start his shift.


Steve Teran was the mechanic of the bowling alley. He was having some misfortune finding a babysitter that morning, so he brought his daughter Valerie and stepdaughter Paula to the alley with him while he worked.


Steve and his daughters were forced into the office, where Stephani and her daughter Melissa, and Melissa’s friend Amy were being held, clinging to the floor. Steve tried to fight the men but was quickly overpowered. The gunmen seemed to be looking for money and when they found the bowling alley’s safe, they took every bit of cash that was inside. It wound up being somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.


The Terror in the Office

That simply could have been the end of it, but of course, it wasn’t. They could have literally walked away and left the hostages alone and hopped their happy asses across the border to Mexico, but you know they didn’t. They wound up shooting all of them in the head. The 3 adults - Stephanie, Steve, and Ida as well as the 4 children - Melissa, Amy, Valerie, and Paula. And for no known reason, they also started a fire by burning all of the paperwork that was sitting on Stephanie’s desk. Whether that was to hopefully burn the building down and destroy any evidence they may have left behind, or just a last fuck you to the people they terrorized and shot…who knows.


12-year-old Melissa was shot five times and was thankfully still alive, she was able to fight through the thickening smoke of the fire, find the phone, and call 9-1-1. Which she had learned how to do at school literally the week before.


While the firefighters extinguished the fire, paramedics looked after the injured. There were so many people on the scene, and evidence was being ruined by the water from the hoses. If they weren’t ruined, they were extremely compromised. However, they were able to get a few footprints and shell casings.


In total, 4 people died that day. 13-year-old Amy Houser, six-year-old Paula Holguin, and 26-year-old Steve Teran. 2-year-old Valerie was pronounced DOA at the hospital the paramedics rushed her to.


Stephanie, Melissa, and Ida were the only survivors.


Stephanie spent 11 days in the hospital recovering, and Ida spent 6 months in the hospital, so she was obviously harmed a lot more than Stephanie was.


One of the survivors recalled the suspects having all 7 victims lay face down on the floor, and that is when they were all shot in the head, execution-style.


The Hunt

Police set off to canvas the neighborhood to see if they could scrounge up any witnesses of the shootings or to find the killers and get them into custody. A witness told the police that he had heard gunshots from across the street but thought nothing of it until the EMS and police started showing up at the bowling alley.


It wasn’t just local police that were there to search, helicopters, planes, and multiple police departments got involved. This included the Army, border patrol, and US Customs…they were all there to look for the shooters. As they were only 45 minutes from the Mexican border, police had decided to put out roadblocks in case the killers tried to leave the country. At 9 am, cops stopped a car with 4 men inside.


All 4 men were searched, and police found over $12,000 in combined cash on them. They were hoping, with that amount of cash, that the two killers were in that car, so they got Steve Senac to come and identify them. However, none of the men inside the vehicle were the shooters.


Police needed something more to go off than just them being males. So, the police sat down with Steve and worked together to create sketches of the suspects.


According to the Las Cruces police, the older suspect was in his 30’s or early 40’s, he was around 5 foot 5 and 160-180 pounds. The younger suspect was in his late 20’s, between 5 foot 6 and 5 foot 8 and weighed around 190 pounds. Steve said that both men were Hispanic.


Police decided after some time that the drawings must be correct since he was no longer under duress when he saw them. On the other hand, Melissa wasn’t much help on how they looked since she was in fight or flight and easily forgot faces due to everything happening around her. She was able to tell police that the older man had a Spanish accent and the younger one sounded more “American". The descriptions of the suspects were then made into composites and were then distributed to law enforcement agencies and new stations across Mexico and the United States.


Very soon thereafter, police started to receive a huge influx of tips. So many that they wound up having to open a secondary line to keep up with the number of tips they were getting. Sadly, only a few were usable with the massive amounts of tips they were receiving.


With as many leads as they followed leading them to nowhere, the police started to look at the robbery in more thorough detail. The killers had stolen thousands of dollars from the bowling alley, Ida was able to tell investigators that they continued to rifle through belongings and in a filing cabinet after they found the safe full of money.


Ron Senac, Stephanie’s father, and owner of the bowling alley was in Arizona on a golfing trip. When he got the news of what happened, he came home immediately. He opened the bowling alley six days after the tragedy happened, which made people look at him as a suspect. There were rumors of drugs and organized crime, and Ron was the bullseye in the middle of it all.


Crime Stoppers had offered up a reward of $12,000, and the locals raised another $8,000 in the hopes that someone had information about the murders. Unfortunately, no new leads came their way.


Updates

In March of 1990, the sketches were given an update and redistributed again to any news outlet that would take them. Having no new information, police started looking at tips from all over the United States, but that was a failed mission also, no suspects were identified.


Unsolved Mysteries would feature an episode about the massacre two months after the tragedy took place. America’s Most Wanted also did a story on their show in 2004. Even with the many calls and severe renewed interest in the case, the leads they got again were not helpful, and the police weren’t any closer to solving this case or to finding their suspects.


In January of 1991, the bowling alley was auctioned up by the bank and sold. The business was in foreclosure and Ron was bankrupt. He was in debt, by 2 million dollars. Rumors started swirling around again, people claiming that Ron was the mastermind behind the horrific crime that took 4 lives. But was he?


Ron Senac said he spent a lot of time with the police and trying to help them. But the police had reported quite the opposite, stating that he was hard to track down, which they had to do often. Ron stated he felt like a suspect, and the police treated him as one. However, there would soon be another death nearby and the bowling alley tragedy and this new death had one very surprising thing in common…. Ron Senac.


In March, a man by the name of James Chapman was killed at Rio Rancho Lanes in New Mexico. He had been the custodian of that bowling alley, which was once owned by Ron Senac until it also went bankrupt a few years prior. Even with the coincidence, police confirmed that the murder in Rio Rancho was not related to the Las Cruces bowling alley murders.


Amy Housen’s mother, Gloria, wasn’t really sure. During the auction at the bowling alley in Las Cruces, she held a sign that read “Non-payment may have cost four lives. Justice?”


In an interview for the 30th anniversary of the massacre, Steve Teran’s brother, Anthony, discussed his anger that the killers weren’t found. He said, “In this day and age, things like this don’t go unsolved. How did we not get these guys? That’s a question I ask myself every day”.


Stephanie Senac wound up passing away in 1999 via issues with the injuries she sustained in the bowling alley. Her daughter, Melissa, survived and is now 36. No one is sure what happened to Ida, but if she is still alive today, she would be in her sixties.


30 years after the murders, the bowling alley killings are still a mystery. Las Cruces Police Chief, Jaime Montoya said “It remains our intention to solve this case for the sake of the victims, their families and friends, and all the resident of Las Cruces who continues to mourn the senseless tragedy that shook our city on that cold February morning a quarter century ago”.


Audrey Martinez Teran, Steven Teran’s wife and the mother of Paula and Valerie said in 2021 that if she could talk to the men that took her family from her that “I’d let them know not only what they did to me, but to our community.” Audrey and her extended family continue to hold vigils for the three family members that were gone too soon.


As of now, the new reward total is $25,000 for any tips that lead to the capture of the suspects.


 

DAVID:

Disco Demolition Night


Steve Dahl
Steve Dahl, radio shock-jock and Disco Demolition Night mastermind.

1979, ESPN would launch on cable television. Sony would introduce the Walkman for 200 dollars ($865.90 in the present). Gasoline would reach .90 cents a gallon during the gas shortage, and the Daytona 500 would be televised for the first time from beginning to end. Disco was reaching its peak in 1979 and Rodney Alcala's (dating game killer) crimes would end. On a July night in Chicago, a disc jockey would try and bring the hottest genre of the time to an end.


Disco is an early version of dance music similar to most EDM music that you and I would know. Disco has its roots in soul, funk, and pop music. Disco would first start to emerge in the 1960s as part of the counterculture of the time.


Disco would become more popular by the time it reached the United States in the 1970s as the hippie movement of the counterculture was fading away, with political issues of the early 70s in the form of race riots across the country, the Vietnam War, the assassinations of MLK Jr, and JFK, and the Watergate scandal. Many people found an escape in disco music and dancing.


The birth of disco is claimed mostly to private dance parties held at the home of Dj David Mancuso’s home that would become known as the loft. One of his first significant disco parties would be held on Valentine's Day 1970, giving birth to disco in the United States. It wouldn’t be until the release of “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gormey would become more mainstream.


Between 1978/79 disco dominated the music world. Music critics often would express they feared that the rise of disco, would kill off rock and roll. Rock musicians like The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, KISS, and even hippie rockers The Grateful Dead would release disco singles.


The Rolling Stones - Miss You

Rod Stweart - Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?

KISS - I was Made for Lovin’ You

The Grateful Dead - Shakedown Street


Disco artists dominated the 21st Grammy awards of 1979:


  1. Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack would win album of the year

  2. Best new artist would go to A Taste of Honey (Boogie Oogie Oogie)

  3. Barry Manilow would win Best Male pop vocal with Copacabana

  4. The Bee Gees would win best pop performance with group vocals for Stayin’ Alive

  5. Donna Summers (Queen of Disco) would also win best R&B performance for Let’s Dance.


Even 13 of the top 16 singles of early 1979 were disco hits. As more radio stations were starting to convert from Rock and roll to disco. WKTU in NYC was a low-rated rock station in 1978 until it switched over to disco and become the most popular disco station nationwide.


WDAI of Chicago would make this same switch on Christmas Eve of 1978 from rock to disco as Dj Steve Dahl would find this out by his firing the same night. People would call Steve Dahl a shock jock like Howard Stern, but he never considered himself one. Steve wouldn’t take his firing lightly after he was rehired at a rival radio station WLUP. During his time on WLUP Dahl would destroy records on the air by breaking them or dragging the needle across the albums then play an explosion sound effect afterward. he would also create a mock organization of anti-disco listeners named Insane Coho Lips. Steven Dahl came up with this name by taking the name of a Chicago street gang known as the Insane Unknowns and seeing the Coho Fishing fleet in the Burnham Harbor in Chicago on his way to the studio daily.


Dahl would promote a number of anti-disco events. When a discotheque was opening in Lynwood, IL in June of 1979 Steve Dahl showed up with thousands of his listeners and the police were called. Later that month when a teen disco was being opened in the suburbs of Chicago once again, he would urge his “army” to show up and throw marshmallows at the promo van for WDAI which he would mock on the air as disco die. The Coho army would get this van cornered in a parking lot and the whole situation did end without violence. On July 1st hundreds of Cohos couldn’t enter a disco promo event and fights would break out ending the event in almost a riot in Hanover Park, IL. Probably one of the most radical shows of his hate for disco would be when Van Mc Coy died suddenly in July of 1979 he would mark the occasion lack of a better term, by destroying a copy of “The Hustle” Mc Coy’s break out album while on the air.


Dahl was very vocal about how much he hated disco even going as far as spoofing Rod Stweart’s “Do You think I’m Sexy.” into a spoof named “do you think I’m disco?” with his band named Teenage Radiation as a 45rpm single. When Steve Dahl was ever asked why he hated disco so much he would reply with “I can't find a white 3-piece suit that fits him off the rack, and allergic to gold jewelry. He hates the taste of Pina Coladas and can’t dance.”


The 1979 Chicago White Sox were having a slump in home game attendance averaging about 16k fans per game. Mike Veek son of the owner of the White Sox would hear of Dahl’s hate for disco and was planning an anti-disco event at a local mall by blowing up disc records and would invite Dahl to Comiskey Park to hold his anti-Disco event there. Steve was unsure about this as he didn't think the Coho’s would provide a big enough backdrop for blowing up the records and it would be the end of his career. The White Sox would agree to sell discounted tickets for the anti-disco night.


This would become a White Sox promotion known as Disco Demolition Night. Veek’s promotion would be if you bring a disco record to blow up you would get a ticket to the game for .98 cents ($4.29 in 2023 and for reference an upper deck ticket for opening day against the Giants this year for the Sox is $30) they decided on .98 cents as WLUP radio frequency is 97.9. Disco Demolition night would finally be held on July 12, 1979, during a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.


Veek and WLUP had hoped that this promotion would boost the game attendance to 20k, and Veek would also hire enough security for a 35k-capacity crowd just in case. When Mike Veek met with his hired security and informed them before the doubleheader started that he was expecting around 35k people they just kind of laughed him off.


With this steep discount and the promotions held for Disco Demolition night, Comiskey Park would sell out its then 44,500 capacity. It was estimated by Bill Veek that there were up to 20k more people outside the stadium trying to get in. CPD had to close down the Dan Ryan expressway ramps near the stadium. The owner of the SOX at the time became so concerned about this event becoming a disaster he checked himself out of the hospital after he saw how many people were heading toward the ballpark carrying signs saying Disco sucks. Some of these banners would also be hung from the upper decks of the ballpark as well during the games.


The first game was scheduled to start at 6 pm central time. And leading up to the game ballpark staff are collecting records and filling a 4Lx6wx5h wood crate. The game would start at 6 pm CST with no problems until Mike Veeck had gotten word that people were trying to enter the ballpark without a ticket people were jumping turnstiles, hopping fences, squeezing through gates, through windows, and sneaking in any way they can into the stadium. Mike would send his security force to go stop people from entering and leaving the field unguarded.


With the field, unguarded anti-disco fans would start tossing LPs and singles down onto the field like frisbees during the first game. Rusty Staub, a designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers would recall that these records would slice through the air and stick into the ground and urged his teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions. Rusty Torres White Sox Outfielder would recall an LP whizzing by his head and missing him by a couple of inches. Along with the crowd yelling at him “Rusty disco sucks! We are gonna kill disco tonight, Rusty!” Game officials would have to stop the game several times due to records, bottles, and even firecrackers being thrown onto the field. Ed Farmer pitcher for the White Sox would remember is a beach boys record coming sailing in front of his face. Legendary broadcaster Harry Caray would also comment in a documentary that they should have had a pot vendor at the ballpark since the smell of marijuana permeated the press box. The fans that weren’t able to get inside the ballpark were already kicking things off by burning albums in bonfires outside the ballpark.


The first game would end at 8:16 pm with the Tigers winning 4-1 and at 8:40 before game two would start The giant box of records would be rolled out onto centerfield and Steve Dahl would arrive in on a jeep and wearing Army Class A uniform wearing an army helmet and would address the crowd.


After a count of three from Steve Dahl and shouting boom, a small battery of fireworks would go off before the box exploded sending vinyl into the air to the crowd cheering and the park organist briefly playing the instrumentals of “Do you think I'm sexy” by Rod Stewart. Steve would break into the Coho Army’s anthem which is his spoof of the Rod Stewart song I mentioned earlier. Steve would leave the field in a victory lap in the jeep he arrived in.


Ken Kravec for the SOX would take the mound to start warming up for game two as fans rushed the unprotected field. Some of the fans that felt it was getting out of hand would try to leave but had difficulty doing so as security are at the same time trying to keep people out since they had locked all but one gate. As the 5-7000 fans rushed the field Karvec would rush back to the Sox dugout and the White Sox would barricade themselves in their clubhouse.


Fans would steal the benches from the picnic area and build a bonfire in centerfield to continue burning records and more than likely anything they could find. Other fans that rushed the field would destroy the batting cages, dig up and steal home plate, and tear up the field in the chaos.


Some fans would also hold their own mock games by running the bases and sliding into home plate as another played umpire and would call them out safe or they were out depending on their slide. One of the fans that took part in running the bases was actor Michael Clark Duncan best known as playing John Coffey in The Green Mile and Bear in “Armageddon” he would end up going home with a bat from the dugouts.


A couple was spotted taking advantage of the situation and made it third base as you could say. Paul Sullivan a fan that attended Disco Demolition would gather with his buddies in the Detroit Tigers dugout passing a bottle of Jack Daniels between them and recalls that one of the Detroit Tiger coaches told them to give him the bottle which they did and tells them to get out of their dugout.


Bill Veeck and Harry Carey would make attempts to get the crowd to get back in their seats. They would try singing and take me out to the ball game in hopes this would work unfortunately the crowd would just sing along with them and stay on the field. After 40 minutes the CPD finally are able to take the field and get it cleared in under 5 minutes but with the damage done to the field and a 1 am curfew in Chicago, the White Sox would have to forfeit the second game. Disco Demolition would end with 39 arrests and minor injuries. For about three weeks later Bill Veeck would receive 5 thousand letters stating they would never come back or watch another White Sox game.


Steve Dahl never expected Disco Demolition to get so out of hand as it did and is actually a big fan of baseball and respects the game and never intended to defile the game itself. Dahl would go on to say later on in life that the Bee Gees said he successfully killed disco and that's good enough for him.

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