Hobbs Police Seek National Help on Tattoo Parlor Murder

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

HOBBS, NEW MEXICO - It's one of our area's most mysterious criminal cases. A Hobbs tattoo artist shoots down a man who walks into his tattoo parlor, but the murderer disappeared. Now Hobbs Police are turning to a national television program for help finding the killer.

A tattoo shop on North Grimes Street has been the hot spot on the murder investigation. It's closed down now, but police say the whereabouts of it's former owner remains a mystery.

"This individual left Hobbs and Lea County," Officer Mike Stone, with the Hobbs Police Department, said. "Just in the time I've spent here, it's not often you see someone flee."

Here's what happened: It was late at night on September 26 and the owner, Phillip "Ed" Harrison was in the back room where he gave tattoos.  Police say, at that point, Orlando Martinez walked through the front door and Harrison shot him. It's unclear why the two got into an argument, but officials say, they knew each other.

"There were other people here at the time," Officer Stone said. "They fled before officers got here, and it took us a couple of weeks to interview and talk to the people who were here."

Sometime between September 26 and October 17 when the warrant was issued, the 43-year-old suspect vanished. Hobbs Police say tracking him down hasn't been easy.

"With the man hours that go into tracking people down and interviewing them, getting the facts, then this guy leaving - it's frustrating," Detective Corey Helton, Investigator, said. "I'd like to have another chance at him."

So they're turning to America's Most Wanted hoping some national attention will help find the killer.

"I was watching America's Most Wanted Saturday night and it popped into my head because they're always looking for people who are on the run," Officer Stone said. "We've got this individual on the run from the tattoo shop and I figured let's just ask America for help on this one."

Right now investigators think Harrison could be almost anywhere in the U.S., but they say he's most likely traveling in an RV with his wife.

"He doesn't really blend in," Officer Stone said. "His blonde hair and tattoos and stuff, so if it's aired then I hope we'll get some calls."

While investigators are hoping national attention will help locate this missing tattoo artist, they're asking anyone with information to call Hobbs Police or CrimeStoppers.