SAN ANGELO, Texas — Crime Stopper Programs have been aiding in the capture of criminals since the late 1970s due to the diligence and creativity one Detective took to solve the murder of a college student.

According to the Concho Valley Crime Stoppers website, the story begins with the murder of Michael Carmen who was shot to death during a robbery at an Albuquerque, New Mexico gas station in July 1976, and Detective MacAleese who was concerned by the number of unsolved cases and was particularly frustrated that all possible leads had been exhausted regarding this murder.

Using skills MacAleese had learned in his time working for the newspaper before he joined the Albuquerque Police Department, he conceived the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the homicide, guaranteeing anonymity for anyone who was willing to call him with information and put up a reward from his own pocket to encourage someone to provide a lead that would help identify those responsible for the murder of Carmen.

Carmen died two weeks before he was supposed to get married and originally was not supposed to be at the gas station the night he died, but he had taken on an extra shift to give a co-worker the night off. When police responded to an emergency call they found Carmen with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He had been shot at point-blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun.

During the year 1976 Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the country and people were afraid to help the police however MacAleese’s plan to identify those responsible for killing Carmen paid off and within a few hours after the recreation of the murder was broadcast on television station KOAT, he received a phone call. 

The call came from an individual who recognized imagery in the video and had suddenly remembered hearing a loud bang in the vicinity of the gas station and then saw a car he recalled as belonging to a resident in a nearby apartment complex driving off.

72 hours later MacAleese and a team of detectives arrested two men and charged them with the murder of Carmen and a string of armed robberies.

With one case in the bag, MacAleese received another phone call because of his reenactment which solved the rape of a young woman and several more calls after that. Seeing how helpful such a program was to the community MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department to allow a group of citizens to establish the first Crime Stoppers program.

Detective MacAleese was named one of the people in the 1970s who changed the face of the United States and was also named the country’s Police officer of the Year.

The San Angelo Crime Stoppers Program, now known as the Concho Valley Crime Stoppers began in 1981 from the efforts of the City Commission and the San Angelo Police Department.