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Family remembers homicide victim

Tucumcari police officers discuss the case outside the Sundowner Gallery and Gifts store where Joanie Vance’s body was found. CNJ staff photo: TV Hagenah

State police officials said Thursday evening they have made no arrests and aren’t releasing any new information on the death of Joanie Vance, but family members gathered at the Vance family ranch south of Tucumcari said they hope whoever is responsible is caught soon.

Police and emergency medical personnel responded about 6:38 p.m. Tuesday to a report that Joan Vance, 62, was unconscious in the Sundowner Gallery and Gifts business. She was transported to the Dan C. Trigg Hospital in Tucumcari where she was pronounced dead, according to a press release from the Tucumcari Police Department.

“There is complete disbelief that someone would shoot someone when they could have just taken the money and run,” said Vance’s eldest daughter Jamie Jones, principal of Valley View Elementary School in Las Cruces. “We believe these people will not get away with it.”

“The people that did this didn’t just take a life, they took a mother, a wife, a grandmother and a very loved member of the community,” said Vance’s youngest daughter, Jenny Vance, who recently moved back to the family ranch.

“My dad loved my mom so it was devastating for him, but he is surrounded by people who love him,” she said. “Justice will be served by either the law or God, and hopefully both.”

Jones said her parents married shortly after her mother graduated from Tucumcari High School in 1959, and her father spent about three decades as a ranch manager before retiring and buying his own ranch. While her three daughters were growing up, Vance never worked outside the home but dedicated herself to being a wife, mother, and homemaker. Jones said her mother had only begun working at the Sundowner Gallery and Gifts store last year.

“She enjoyed visiting with people at the store; that’s why it was so tragic what happened,” Jones said. “She enjoyed doing something that was different from what she had done most of her life.”

Vance’s employer, Bill Curry had known Vance since high school, and was pleased to have her work in his store selling oil paintings and bronze works.

“She was just a lovable sweet lady who was willing to help people and enjoyed being around people,” he said. “The gallery contains my artwork and we have gifts and different kinds of things.”

Vance’s middle daughter, Jo Ana Pineda, a former teacher in Dexter and Roswell said, “We grew up without a TV living way out on a ranch, and I seem to remember that she read to us whenever we were good,” Pineda said. “She loved birds, animals, and especially baby animals. She would walk for hours just smelling things.”

Vance’s granddaughter, Cory Sernandez, said she decided to major in elementary education at New Mexico State University due to her grandmother’s influence.

While Vance’s husband James declined to speak with the media, Pineda said he and the rest of the family have been overwhelmed by support from the community.

“We have had so many friends come and help us through this and encourage us and let us know they love us, especially my dad,” Pineda said. “We would like for the community to know how much we appreciate them.”