Family mourns gruesome slaying of former beauty queen

Naomi Chaney when she was in the Marine Corps

By Lew K. Cohn

The Highlander

Managing Editor

 

Friends and family are mourning the death of a former Miss Aqua Boom who was gruesomely killed in New Mexico earlier this year – apparently on her birthday.

Two men were arrested last week for their part in the slaying of 36-year-old Naomi Ruth Chaney. New Mexico State Police are still searching for the body of Chaney, a former Horseshoe Bay resident and graduate of Marble Falls High School.

Chaney, who was born Jan. 30, 1980, had been reported missing after last being seen near Twin Peaks, N.M., on Jan. 30, 2016, which was her 36th birthday. The New Mexico Department of Public Safety had been searching for her and had posted her photo online since February.

A break in the case came last week when 40-year-old Clayton Vincent Jones was arrested in California on an unrelated murder charge.

Jones was arrested Monday, May 2, after he was accused of shooting to death a woman during an altercation at Slab City, California, the abandoned site of former World War II Marine barracks at Camp Dunlap, about 156 miles northeast of San Diego. This is a location frequented by “snowbirds” who camp there during cooler months as well as people who “live off the grid.”

According to witnesses and published reports, Jones and an unidentified woman got into an argument when Jones took a firearm out of his vehicle and starting shooting. He killed the woman and fled in his vehicle.

Other residents were able to chase him down and stop him from leaving Slab City before police arrived and arrested him on a charge of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is being held in the Imperial County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.

While being questioned by investigators, Jones admitted his involvement in killing Chaney on Jan. 30 near Carson Estates in New Mexico and also named Albert Gene Hunsacker II as an accomplice in the crime.

Hunsacker was interviewed by New Mexico police on Thursday, May 5, and told investigators he had been having a sexual relationship with Chaney despite being married to another woman. He said Jones and Chaney picked him up at his home to go for a ride.

According to statements given by Hunsacker, the trio had been drinking on a ridge near the Petaca River when Jones assaulted Chaney. He then put a wench wire around Chaney's neck, had Hunsacker turn on the wench and then drove through the desert, dragging the woman to death. Hunsacker claims Jones threatened to kill his family if he refused to help him kill Chaney.

The two men dumped her body along the river in some brush and left. After being arrested by police, Hunsacker tried to lead them to Chaney's body, but they were unable to locate it. He is being held in Taos County in lieu of $900,000 cash bond on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Chaney's aunt, Cheryie Chaney Palmer, remembered her niece as a pretty young woman who was named the 1997 Miss Aqua Boom in Kingsland prior to her senior year.

“She was a lovely, lovely girl,” Palmer said of her niece. “She was sweet and well liked in Llano High School (which she attended prior to her senior year) and had a lot of friends at Horseshoe Bay.”

Naomi Chaney also served in the U.S. Marine Corps after she graduated from Marble Falls High School in 1998, earning an honorable discharge. Later she moved to New Mexico, where her father, Billy “Dusty” Chaney Jr. had lived before he moved back to Texas and passed away in October 2005.

In addition to her aunt, Chaney is survived by a brother, Elijah Chaney; a grandmother, Joyce Chaney; and another aunt, Pam Chaney.

Cheryie Chaney said the family is horrified that Naomi's death was so gruesome.

“It is such a sickening crime and our family is having a really tough time with this right now,” Palmer said.

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