Joe Pruitt said he plans on being in Alamogordo, N.M., for the trial of the man accused of killing his son.
“If I have to hitchhike, I’m going to be there,” Pruitt said.
Lawrence Tarberts is accused of killing Pruitt’s son, Joseph Glenn Pruitt, 25. Joseph Pruitt’s body was found June 11, 2011, in Fresnal Canyon, a recreational area in southeastern New Mexico, officials said. The body was discovered by mountain bikers.
Tarberts was arrested Jan. 23, and charged with murder, larceny of a firearm and tampering with evidence. He is being held in the Otero County (N.M.) Jail on bail totaling $1.13 million. Authorities released details of the arrest Friday. No trial date has been set.
“I had faith that someday they would make an arrest,” Joe Pruitt said Monday. “A criminal always makes a mistake.”
Otero County Undersheriff David Hunter was the lead investigator on the case and arrested Tarberts in Nelson, Neb. He said Joseph Pruitt lived with Tarberts and his wife in New Mexico from April 2011 until his death.
He said a motive has not been developed.
“That’s something we’re still working on,” said Hunter, who followed the case, but didn’t have it turned over to him until November 2012.
He said Tarberts became a person of interest because he was the last to see Joseph Pruitt alive.
“The stories he was telling just didn’t add up, and he became a suspect,” Hunter said.
Reports indicate Joseph Pruitt was shot in the head. The weapon believed to have been used was recovered in Oklahoma.
Hunter said Tarberts lived in Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska after the body was discovered.
“Lawrence Tarberts was planning to go back to Boston when I caught up with him,” Hunter said.
He said after talking with Tarberts’ wife, Tarberts was taken into custody and charged with the murder.
“I have stayed in contact with Mr. Pruitt and the family, and being able to make the call the day after we made the arrest was the most gratifying phone call I’ve ever made,” Hunter said.
Joe Pruitt praised Hunter.
“He did a great job. He stayed on it, and I just appreciate everything he did,” Joe Pruitt said. “This gives our family closure.
“The next thing is to be there when his trial starts. I want to see the man who took my son’s life, eye to eye.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.