New Mexico Man Allegedly Stabs Neighbor Over A Barking Dog, Then Goes On The Run

Ricardo Villanueva Cordova has been wanted for a broad daylight murder in Albuquerque since 2013.

March 25, 2019
Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

Photo by: Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

By: Michelle Sigona

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Michael Sanchez died on June 18, 2013. The 27-year-old car dealership worker bled out in a gas station parking lot after being stabbed 29 times.

Police say the culprit was his neighbor, Ricardo Villanueva Cordova, who immediately after the stabbing went on the lam — where he’s been ever since.

The violence reportedly stemmed from Sanchez asking Cordova to do something about his barking dog, and Cordova accusing Sanchez of running the animal over.

Six years later, though, no evidence has emerged that a dog was ever hurt — and Michael Sanchez’s family still longs for justice while Ricardo Cordova remains at large.

Lisa Lucero, Michael Sanchez’s aunt, says she was extremely close to her nephew, especially after his mother died young. Talking to In Pursuit with John Walsh, Lucero said, "We consider him our son and it was always like that. My children consider Michael their brother.”

Sanchez moved in to Lucero’s Albuquerque mobile home community in early 2013. At first, he reportedly fit in well and enjoyed being there as his life picked up speed. He got a promotion at the car dealership where he worked, earned his GED, and, in short order, paid off the loan on his residence.

That April, though, Sanchez started complaining about a pair of supposedly out-of-control dogs in the area, Oso and Canello. He said the animals bit him, barked all night, and fought loudly underneath his trailer.

As Lucero recalled, "Michael called me and asked me, 'What do I do? There's a dog that's barking every day and runs up, nips at my legs.'"

After telephoning animal control, Sanchez learned that Oso and Canello belonged to his neighbor, Ricardo Cordova. Sanchez reportedly thought he could discuss the situation reasonably with Cordova.

According to Lucero, though, "He went over to the Cordova's residence and there was a confrontation between him and Cordova. Michael got in his vehicle, took off to work. Cordova's family gave a statement that Michael ran over the dog."

Despite the accusation, the dog in question, Oso, was subsequently found alive and nothing has indicated that Michael ever ran over or in any other way injured any other dogs.

The next morning, just as Sanchez was set to begin his new position at work, police say, Ricardo Cordova attacked him in broad daylight at a local gas station.

Albuquerque Police Detective Matthew Caplan told In Pursuit, "We really turned our attention on the surveillance video on the gas station itself…. The video itself captured the entirety of the incident. You see Michael Sanchez start putting in gas, and then you see Cordova drive up. You see Michael running for the business."

Authorities say Sanchez yelled for help while Cordova stabbed him 29 times in 30 seconds. Caplan added, "It was a very vicious attack and it almost seemed like Cordova couldn't stop. There was so much anger rage there.”

First responders arrived at the scene quickly and transported Sanchez to a local hospital. Less than three hours later, he was pronounced dead.

Photos of Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

Photo by: Photos of Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

Photos of Ricardo Villanueva Cordova [Zero Point Zero Production]

Following the incident, Cordova reportedly called his girlfriend, Ofelia Gardea. She, in turn, told authorities, "He was frantic, and he told me, 'I just killed somebody.'"

Detective Caplan said that Cordova, who was originally from Mexico, may have slipped back down over the border and that he should be considered extremely dangerous.

As Caplan put it, "The fact that an incident over dogs or a neighbor dispute was the catalyst for a brutal murder, really speaks to a lot of rage and anger so much so that he could be a danger at any time, any place."

Lisa Lucero agrees, saying, "When I looked at Michael in the coffin, I felt every last single one of those 29 stab wounds. Every last one of them. The vicious way that he killed Michael is just something that's just so hard to come to grips with. He is a danger to society.”

Cordova was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder and kidnapping. Reports say the kidnapping charge stems from the fact he allegedly wouldn't let Michael free while the murder was happening.

Authorities say Cordova stands out in a crowd because of his big, stocky build, and that he has worked in construction in the past.

The hunt to bring him to justice continues onward, while Michael Sanchez’s family hopes for the best and makes every effort to keep their murdered loved one’s memory alive.


  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Height: 6 feet
  • Sex: Male
  • Race: Hispanic
  • Hair: Black
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Experience working construction
  • Originally from Mexico, could be hiding out there

If you know anything about this case, please contact our hotline (833-3-PURSUE) or submit a tip online.

For more on this case, watch the “Murder in Appalachia” episode of In Pursuit With John Walsh on Wednesday, March 27 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery! Or catch up on ID GO.

Read more: KOB-TV, KOAT-TV

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