Suspect: Shooting was an accident

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Valencia County sheriff’s deputies arrested a man they say shot and killed his girlfriend last week in their Los Lunas-area apartment.

Joseph Bibiano, 19, of Los Lunas, is being held in the Valencia County Detention Center on a $1 million cash-only bond on an open count of murder

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Joseph Bibiano, being escorted to jail by Valencia County Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Derrick, is charged with shooting and killing his girlfriend, Desiree Schiffli.

Bibiano, who is charged with the shooting death of his 18-year-old girlfriend, Desiree Schiffli, told reporters while being taken to jail last week that the shooting was an accident and that Schiffli had been hitting him while he had his gun in his hand.

“I (expletive) loved her,” Bibiano said, crying as he was being escorted by sheriff’s deputies. “I’m sorry.”

Deputies took Bibiano into custody about 1 p.m. Thursday, June 20, on James Road in Belen. Sheriff’s Lt. John Gordan said Bibiano was arrested without incident.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Capt. Gary Hall said deputies were called to the Sycamore Village Apartments on Mountain Laurel at about 8:45 p.m. last Wednesday night.

When deputies arrived, the suspect had fled in Schiffli’s white Ford Taurus, which was found the next day abandoned at Ann Parish Elementary School.

“When we arrived on scene, a witness said he was walking through the apartment complex when he noticed an individual standing at a doorway,” Hall said. “(The witness) knew (Joseph Bibiano) and stopped and talked to him for a little bit.”

The lieutenant said as the witness was talking to Bibiano, he noticed a female laying on the floor inside the apartment. The witness asked Bibiano what was wrong and if she was OK.

“Bibiano told him, ‘I killed her,’” Hall said.

Desiree Schiffli Victim

But, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in magistrate court in Los Lunas, during a preliminary interview with the witness, he told sheriff’s investigators that Bibiano, described as being upset, approached him while at the apartment complex and asked him for help.

“(The witness) asked Bibiano what kind of help he needed,” the affidavit read. “Bibiano allegedly told (the witness) he had a dead body in his apartment.”

In another part of the affidavit, it read “(The witness) said he did not believe him and asked (Bibiano) to show him. The men entered the apartment and (the witness) observed the female, who was dead, in the bedroom.”

According to the court documents, the witness asked Bibiano what happened, to which Bibiano told him that he had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend and had shot her in the head with a .22-caliber weapon. The witness told deputies he immediately called 911 and told Bibiano to stay in his apartment, which he did, for a period of time.

When the witness went back into the apartment, he saw Bibiano sitting on the couch, crying.

The affidavit also states when deputies went inside the apartment, they found Schiffli in the bedroom, “in a sitting position, on the floor, propped up by the bed. A semi-automatic handgun was observed on the floor.”

Hall said investigators didn’t know if the handgun found in the bedroom was the weapon used to kill Schiffli. The captain said tests need to be conducted to determine if it was used in the alleged crime.

When asked if deputies had any dealings with the couple or Bibiano in the past, Hall said there have been calls to the couple’s apartment regarding domestic issues, but no criminal charges had been pursued by either party.

Bibiano also said he had been dating Schiffli for three months. Gordon said the couple had been living together for one month.

Hall said New Mexico State Police dive team searched the nearby Rio Grande Monday morning, looking for additional evidence, but nothing was found. He also said sheriff’s detectives did interview an eye witness to the shooting on Saturday, but couldn’t say what the person told investigators.

Bibiano made his first court appearance on Friday, when Magistrate John “Buddy” Sanchez ordered he be held on a $1 million cash-only bond.

Hall said this was the first homicide in Valencia County this year.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.