LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Richard McIntyre, 70, was under investigation for rape and domestic abuse. The Third Judicial District Attorney's Officed decided not to arrest McIntyre until there was an indictment.
The day before McIntyre's grand jury hearing, he kidnapped and killed his sister-in-law.
Las Cruces police report the number of violent cases of domestic abuse has gone up. From August 2012 through July 2013, the Las Cruces Police Department has made 626 domestic-related arrests.
This week's murder-suicide was the latest case to end in the worst way.
"When I first heard about this, I truly felt a pit in my stomach," said Donna Richmond, the director of La Pinon, a local sexual abuse victim services center.
Richmond sees hundreds of cases of domestic and sexual abuse every year.
"It just makes me feel ill that this could happen. We want people to know that La Casa and La Pinon are here to talk to, because it is a scary situation," Richmond told ABC-7.
Police believe McIntyre kidnapped and killed his sister-in-law, Lisa Cash, because he was angry with her for being a potential witness in the grand jury hearing scheduled for the next day.
"The fact that things end up in a tragic murder and a cowardly suicide are horrible. They're unfortunate, but that was beyond our control," said Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D'Antonio.
Deputy Chief District Attorney Roxeanne Esquibel made the decision not to arrest McIntyre. She decided to send the case to a grand jury first.
"The nature of the domestic violence, while violent, did not suggest that the suspect was capable of anything like this," Esquibel told ABC-7. "There was no forensic evidence or any other witnesses or any other kind of corroborating evidence. Looking at the age of Mr. McIntyre, 70 years old, the fact that the victim was out of state."
Esquibel also said there were no signs that McIntyre was a danger to the community or the victim's family. She said neither the DA's office nor police were aware that McIntyre had access to a gun.
D'Antonio said he stands by Esquibel's decision.
"I stand by the person. She has 22 years of demonstrated excellence being district attorney, and she is the biggest advocate for women and children in this office," he said.
"I don't think the justice system had really gotten too far along in this particular case. It's hard to know what the ultimate outcome would have been. I don't think it's a fair comment on the justice system. I think the only person that's responsible for what happened to Lisa Cash is Richard McIntyre," Esquibel said.
Esquibel said McIntyre did have a criminal history of sexual assault back in the '80s. She could not recall if she had that information when she made her decision. She added that knowing that would not have made her change her decision.
LCPD offered several tips to anyone who may be suffering from domestic abuse: