A Los Ranchos judge was fatally shot by her husband, along with several of the couple’s pets, in a murder-suicide Friday afternoon at their home in the village.
Jayme Fuller, a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said deputies found the bodies of Eric Pinkerton, 63, and his wife, Diane Albert, 65, and several dogs and one cat at their residence in the 800 block of Ranchitos NW.
She said they had all been shot to death by Pinkerton before he took his own life.
Albert was a municipal judge for the Village of Los Ranchos and had served as a planning and zoning commissioner for the North Valley community. Albert was also a former Los Alamos County commissioner and former president of the Bike Coalition of New Mexico.
She was a practicing patent attorney.
“We are heartsick hearing the news of this senseless tragedy,” Los Ranchos Administrator Ann Simon said Saturday. “Diane Albert, our elected municipal judge, was a longtime Los Ranchos resident, a brilliant mind, and a friend. We can’t ignore that this happened on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.”
It was the third domestic incident in the Albuquerque area to turn fatal over the first 48 hours of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
A man reportedly suffering from dementia was accused of killing and dismembering his wife before a planned family gathering at a West Side home Thursday.
Then, on Friday afternoon, police say officers fatally shot a knife-wielding man after his parents called 911 for help with a domestic dispute.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina on Saturday said APD officers responded to 207 domestic violence calls from Wednesday to Saturday morning – a 46% increase over the same three-day period last week.
BCSO said there had been no domestic violence reports or calls from Albert’s home since at least 2019 and older data wasn’t available.
Fuller said a friend of the couple contacted BCSO sometime before 4 p.m. on Friday “after receiving a troubling message” from Pinkerton. In the message, she said, Pinkerton stated he shot his wife and dogs and was going to kill himself.
Responding deputies found the couple dead inside the home.
“Pinkerton is believed to have shot his wife and several animals in the house before shooting himself,” Fuller said.
Many took to social media Saturday to mourn Albert’s death.
New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón posted, “Diane Albert … my friend for decades … a kindhearted soul who always uplifted me and others … she’s gone. I’m in shock,” beside a crying emoji.
The Friends of Los Ranchos Facebook page posted “God Bless you, Judge Diane Albert,” while sharing a Journal article on the news. Someone commented on the post, “Diane was such a good person, a close friend, sharp as a tack, generous, a lover of animals … I could go on. Miserable and tragic.”
Joe Craig, president of Friends of Los Ranchos, said he was shocked by the news.
“This is awful. Just a nice, nice lady, and, as far as I know, he was OK,” he said. “… And to shoot Diane? … I’ve never seen her with a mean bone in her body.”
Craig and Albert worked together for several years on the planning and zoning commission. They were also neighbors and saw each other in passing now and then.
Last time Craig saw her was a month ago in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court and they planned to have coffee but it never happened. He said she had reenrolled at the University of New Mexico to get a bachelor’s degree in French.
Craig said he had heard the couple had issues but never saw anything that stuck out.
“Obviously, there’s something wrong there,” he said. “I don’t know, we all have problems, I think.”
Craig said when Albert wasn’t riding her bike “most everywhere” she drove an old Subaru and was very “down to earth.” Craig said Albert was admired.
“She sort of epitomized what we want in Los Ranchos – a farm girl out of Ohio who goes to get a Ph.D. in metallurgy out of Carnegie Mellon,” Craig said, recalling how she would come to a meeting “wearing her bike tights, clomping in on bike cleats.”
He said the couple had moved into the house on Ranchitos, not far from his own, where Albert took care of chickens and ducks and spoiled her dogs, all of them pugs.
“It was a little, sort of, ratty house and they rebuilt the heck out of it,” Craig said.
The property was bustling with law enforcement Friday.
BCSO vehicles blocked the narrow roadway to the home as investigators combed the surrounding area. Deputies could be seen carrying several cages of ducks, chickens and other animals from the home. It is unclear what would become of the birds.