New Mexico

Man jailed pending trial in attack at an ABQ massage parlor

A Belen man who allegedly held an Albuquerque massage parlor employee at gunpoint for hours and demanded sex will remain in jail while awaiting trial on kidnapping and other charges, a judge ordered Wednesday.

Matthew Chavez, 33, is also charged with criminal sexual contact, attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was attending a detention hearing away from the Metropolitan Detention Center.

“The facts alleged are appalling,” 2nd Circuit Judge Clara Moran said at Wednesday’s hearing. “This is an allegation of extreme violence.”

The alleged attack comes nearly a year after two Asian-American women were killed in two armed robberies at massage parlors in Albuquerque, sparking fears among Asian business owners.

In the most recent attack, the employee managed to escape by pretending to faint, and as Chavez left the room, called a friend who contacted the police, a sex crimes detective with the Albuquerque Police Department wrote in an affidavit accompanied by a warrant.

The affidavit listed further details about the attack.

The clerk told police through a Vietnamese-speaking interpreter that she was working alone at the Happy Relax Massage Parlor on Block 2400 of Juan Tabo NE on Jan. 15 when Chavez walked in and used a credit card to request $66 for a massage and a tip from 100 dollars to pay .

After receiving a massage, Chavez reportedly demanded sex. The clerk refused and offered to refund his $100 tip.

Chavez then allegedly pulled a pistol from his clothing, pointed it at her chest, and again demanded sex, the affidavit said. Chavez also threatened her with scissors, threatened to kill her and petted the woman, sources said.

Chavez demanded money and photographed the woman’s ID, the affidavit said.

“The ordeal lasted several hours,” wrote the public prosecutor’s office in a pre-trial detention application. “Eventually the victim pretended to pass out and the defendant rushed to find water to give her. During his absence, the victim could call for help. When the police arrived, the victim told the accused that it was another customer and that she could flee to their protection.”

Last year, 45-year-old spa owner Sihui Fang was fatally shot by suspected gunmen on January 24 at her Wonderful Massage on Menaul store near San Pedro NE. Jorge Rivera-Ramirez, 19, and Juan Carlos Hernandez, 20, are both scheduled to stand trial on April 3 for first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery.

And on February 15, a woman of Chinese descent was found fatally shot at Canna Spa Massage near Coors and Los Volcanes NW. APD did not identify the victim.

Raphael Marquez, 31, a suspect in the murder, was killed February 25 by two Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies and a New Mexico State Police officer after a pursuit in the Valencia County.

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