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Cortez teacher, playwright found fatally shot in New Mexico

Joseph William Keleher of Cortez was fatally shot in New Mexico on Jan. 30. (Facebook photo)
Joseph Keleher worked with Navajos and at Crow Canyon; suspect arrested

A Cortez man was fatally shot in New Mexico, and a suspect has been arrested, according to the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department.

Joseph William Keleher, age 59, died from a gunshot wound on Jan. 30 at his home in Ponderosa, west of Sante Fe, according to Lt. Frank Tomlinson of the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office.

Keleher was working as a high school social studies teacher for Jemez Valley Public Schools.

Law enforcement responded to a 911 call about 12:18 p.m. and found Keleher dead inside the residence, Tomlinson said. He had been shot in the back. A window at the residence had been broken.

David Anthony Salazar (Courtesy Sandoval County Sheriff's Office)

A suspect identified as David Anthony Salazar, 46, was detained at the scene and later arrested on an open count of murder, Tomlinson said. Salazar is being held in the Sandoval County Detention Center. A firearm was recovered from the scene.

The results of the investigation and grand jury deliberation will determine what level of murder charge will be filed. The investigation is ongoing, and a motive is not known.

Tomlinson said that based on the initial investigation, the two did not appear know each other well, but lived in the same general neighborhood.

Keleher is from Cortez, and was teacher in the region, including at the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 and for the Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo Tribes. He was also an archaeologist, a former educator at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, an author, and playwright for the Sunflower Theater Troupe. His most recent book is titled “Dracula’s Son.”