RIO COMMUNITIES—A suspicious death in the city of Rio Communities has been ruled a homicide, with one man in custody on a no-bond hold.

Mike Cunningham
Arrested, charged

Mike Cunningham, 62, has been charged with an open count of murder, a first-degree felony; and tampering with evidence, a third degree felony, in relation to the death of his 93-year-old father, Homer Cunningham.

Valencia County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call for a welfare check at a home on the 200 block of Goodman Avenue shortly after 10 a.m., Thursday, April 1.

Genara Cunningham, who lives at the home with her husband, Homer Cunningham, and son, Mike Cunningham, was on the phone with her daughter that morning and said there was “a dead person in her bed.” VCSO Lt. Joseph Rowland said Genera suffers from severe dementia.

According to the criminal complaint, when deputies arrived, they found Genara, 92, uninjured, and Homer Cunningham dead in the couple’s bedroom.

Mike Cunningham told deputies he found his father dead mid-day on Wednesday, March 31, and contacted paramedics and the medical investigator. The Valencia Regional Emergency Communications Center has no record of a call for emergency medical services to the home, according to the complaint.

Homer Cunningham was found on his back on the floor of the master bedroom. He appeared to have a wound to the back of his head, which was not clearly visible due to the body’s position, and a laceration to the top of his head, the complaint read. There was also additional bruising to his face and shoulder.

The complaint reports there was blood pooling in the carpet where Homer Cunningham’s head was, as well as blood spatter on the wall in the hallway just outside the bedroom. Another pool of blood was found directly in front of the sink, which showed signs of an attempt to wipe it away.

A 38 special revolver was found in the couple’s bedroom closet. The gun had a six-round capacity and one chamber was empty.

In the locked bedroom belonging to Mike Cunningham, investigators found three pages of notebook paper with handwritten notes describing some of the actions taken by Mike to cover up the incident, the complaint said, as well as what actions may be taken by law enforcement when they arrived and what actions he should take both before and after their arrival.

“Also found in the room were several more AK-47 style rifles and other documents,” the complaint read.

A plastic bag with a mostly blue western style shirt with blood on it was found in a trash can in the backyard of the home.

In body camera footage from the Belen Police Department on March 29, Homer Cunningham is seen wearing the same shirt. The bag had additional clothing, believed to belong to Homer, including underwear.

Belen officers visited the home during an unrelated investigation pertaining to Mike Cunningham. No charges were filed.

“In the papers … where Mike Cunningham outlines the actions he had already taken in this incident, it states specifically he had removed Homer’s shirt and moved his underwear,” the criminal complaint reads.

Mike Cunningham was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.