Matthew Reisen and Martin Salazar
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
Authorities have determined that the woman who claimed she had been kidnapped at knifepoint on Wednesday, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the deaths of a Santa Fe police officer and a retired firefighter, made the whole thing up.
Authorities have determined that the woman who claimed she had been kidnapped at knifepoint on Wednesday, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the deaths of a Santa Fe Police officer and a retired firefighter, made the whole thing up.
New Mexico State Police have arrested Jeannine Jaramillo, 46, and charged her with two counts of first-degree murder, receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing and tampering with evidence.
State Police Deputy Chief Carolyn Huynh said during a Saturday evening news conference that Jaramillo and other witnesses initially told authorities a male suspect fled the crash on foot. After an investigation by State Police, that turned out to be false.
“There was never a kidnapping or a male suspect involved,” Huynh said. “We believe Jaramillo led officers on a chase driving the suspect car and causing the fatal crash. We have evidence that backs up this conclusion.” She noted that this isn’t the first time that Jaramillo has fled police and then claimed to have been kidnapped at knifepoint.
Wednesday’s pursuit ended in a five-vehicle crash on Interstate 25 that killed Santa Fe Police Officer Robert Duran, 43, and retired Las Vegas, New Mexico, firefighter Frank Lovato, 62. Duran was the first Santa Fe officer killed in the line of duty since 1933.
Huynh said Jaramillo was arrested in Albuquerque on Saturday afternoon and has been booked into the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center. A criminal complaint was not available in online court records as of Saturday evening.
“There is, without question, sufficient cause to assert that Jaramillo was driving the stolen vehicle willfully and freely from any kind of duress,” First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. “I am confident in saying that Jaramillo acted on her own accord and in a manner that is consistent with her recent criminal behavior of deceit and disregard for public safety.”
Carmack-Altwies said her office plans to file a motion to keep Jaramillo behind bars until trial, adding “through this horrific chain of events we have seen the danger and damage that Ms. Jaramillo is capable of if she is to remain out in public.”
Huynh said Jaramillo’s actions “put the entire public in danger and took the lives of two dedicated public servants.”
“She caused a senseless tragedy that has impacted the community of Santa Fe, Las Vegas and all of New Mexico,” she said. “The pain her actions have caused will not be alleviated by this arrest alone, there will be lasting consequences, but we do hope that holding her accountable will provide some solace.”
‘Not the first time’
Huynh said the incident started around 11 a.m. when Jaramillo told someone at the Rancho Vizcaya Apartments in Santa Fe that she was being kidnapped. That person called 911 and Santa Fe police responded, pursuing the suspect car when they spotted it.
Police pursued the car as it drove north in the southbound lanes of I-25 and crossed the dirt median, before “traveling the wrong way on I-25 at approximately 90 miles per hour.”
After the crash, a Santa Fe officer told investigators that Jaramillo was driving the car and the only person inside the vehicle, which was stolen in Las Vegas days earlier when the owner left the keys inside.
Initially, Jaramillo was treated at a hospital and released but Huynh said late Friday night State Police received confirmation from DNA evidence that she was driving the car and had made the kidnapping story up.
“This is not the first time that Jaramillo has been accused of this type of behavior,” Huynh said.
Court records show Jaramillo was arrested in Cibola County in September after leading authorities on a reckless chase through Grants in a stolen vehicle. Afterward, Jaramillo told authorities a man with a knife had forced her to do so. Those charges were later dismissed “pending further investigation.”
“Her statement in (September’s) incident is suspiciously similar to her statement in this incident, including a male subject holding her against her will with a knife to her neck,” Huynh said.
On Friday, Jaramillo spoke with KOB-TV and reiterated the claims that she had been kidnapped by a man and blacked out briefly before the crash.
When asked about her history of alleging a man forced her to lead authorities on pursuits after being arrested, Jaramillo told KOB-TV, “My life has been pretty rough lately and I haven’t made the best choices in relationships at all.”
A manipulative pattern
Jaramillo’s history of stolen vehicle arrests dates back to 2014, when police found a stolen Chrysler PT Cruiser and two motorcycles at her Albuquerque home.
While awaiting trial in that case, Jaramillo was arrested three more times for shoplifting, burglary and — in her most serious charges until now — aggravated battery upon a peace officer when she tried to drive off in a stolen truck as a Bernalillo County deputy held onto her.
Jaramillo was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to receiving or transferring stolen motor vehicles, auto burglary, shoplifting and attempted aggravated battery upon a peace officer.
Over the next few years Jaramillo lost custody of her children, battled a methamphetamine habit and repeatedly violated probation by picking up new charges and avoiding, or outright lying, to probation officers, according to court records.
When she was arrested for stealing hot cocoa packets from a Starbucks at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, Jaramillo cited memory issues to plead ignorance to her probation officer. When the officer showed Jaramillo surveillance video of the theft, she “then recalled the incident.”
“While it may be the case that (Jaramillo) has a cognitive issue that causes memory problems, she is highly functioning and savvy enough to be able to feign it in a manipulative manner when it serves her personal interests,” the officer wrote.
After violating probation for a fifth time in 2017, an officer wrote Jaramillo had “demonstrated a pattern of deceit and manipulation” and she was unsatisfactorily discharged.
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