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Woman Accused Of Faking Abduction After Officer AndFirefighter Killed In High Speed Chase

"There was never a kidnapping or a male suspect involved,” State Police Deputy Chief Carolyn Huynh said Saturday while announcing the arrest of Jeannine Jaramillo. “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.”

By Jill Sederstrom
Jeannine Jaramillo Pd

Authorities say a New Mexico woman, who claimed to have been kidnapped and held at knife point during a high-speed chase that killed a police officer and retired firefighter, made the whole story up.

Jeannine Jaramillo, 46, is now facing two first-degree murder charges, after investigators say she was the one behind the wheel during the fatal crash on Wednesday, according to a statement from the New Mexico State Police.

Jaramillo had initially claimed that a male suspect fled the vehicle on foot.

“There was never a kidnapping or a male suspect involved,” State Police Deputy Chief Carolyn Huynh said at a news conference Saturday, according to The Albuquerque Journal. “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.”

The incident began after Jaramillo allegedly told a woman at an apartment complex near Sawmill Road and St. Francis Drive that she was being kidnapped and the woman called 911, The Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

New Mexico State Police joined the Santa Fe Police Department in pursuit of the vehicle, described as a white Chevrolet Malibu, around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

As police pursued the car in the southbound lanes of I-25, the car crossed the dirt median into the northland lanes, traveling at approximately 90 miles per hour before causing a five-vehicle crash that killed two.

Police identified those killed in the crash as Santa Fe Police Officer Robert Duran, 43, and Frank Lovato, 62, a retired firefighter.

Jaramillo and other witnesses described a male suspect, wearing a red shirt, black pants and a black jacket, fleeing from the scene on foot, police said.

However, after subsequent investigation, police found the Chevy Malibu’s computer showed that only the driver seat had been occupied at the time of the crash, authorities said. Jarmalillo’s DNA was also found on the driver’s airbag of the Malibu.

“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 at the press conference, according to The Albuquerque Journal. “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.”

The vehicle had reportedly been stolen from a mobile home park in Las Vegas, New Mexico on February 28.

The vehicle’s owner, Loreinna Trujillo, told The New Mexican she had been warming up the car to take her children to school around 7:30 a.m. and left the key fob inside the vehicle. When she returned a short time later, the car was gone.

At the press conference Saturday, Huynh said Jaramillo’s alleged actions “put the entire public in danger and took the lives of two dedicated public servants.”

“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,” Huynh said.

Huynh added that it wasn’t the first time Jaramillo had made similar claims to law enforcement officers.

She was also arrested in September in Cibola County after she allegedly led authorities on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle. She later claimed a man with a knife had forced her to flee from law enforcement.

“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.

The charges against her were later dropped in that case, pending further investigation, according to The Santa Few New Mexican.

She was arrested again in October in connection with the theft of a bucket truck.

Before she was taken into custody, Jaramillo spoke to local station KOB insisting that she had been kidnapped by a man she had once dated and was described as “hysterical” and “in shock” after the fatal crash.

“I don’t wish that on anybody to go through,” she said. “I was in terrible fear for my life and I just don’t want to ever go through this again.”

Jaramillo told the news outlet she blacked out during the chase.

When questioned about reports that officers had only seen one person in the car, Jaramillo appeared to stick to her story.

“I think people should understand that, when you are involved in a situation like that, I don’t think that is right for them to say things that have their opinion, like that, until they are in a situation like that themselves,” she said. “When there is a lot going on, these crashes and a high-speed chase, I was scared for my life.”

She was arrested in connection with the fatal crash on Saturday and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, receiving or transferring stolen vehicles, aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer and tampering with evidence, police said.

Duran’s widow, Kathleen Duran, said in a statement released by the Santa Fe Police Department that her husband had decided to become a police officer in 2015 after he felt “compelled to do more” for the community.

It was not an easy decision, and we knew there were risks, especially in this day and age where officers are sometimes targeted at random simply for being law enforcement. It was also a period of time where law enforcement was under scrutiny, and the nation is still calling out for reform,” she said.

Robert Duran Pd

Her husband “had always considered law enforcement as a career” but initially did “not want to risk not being there for his boys,” she said.

“It came down to preserving a future for our children that compelled him to take a leap of faith and follow his heart,” she said. “If good people who care about the safety and development of our communities are not willing to stand up and take risks to make our world a better place, then what hope is there for our society and our children?”

She went on to say that although the 18 years the couple spent together “will never be enough time for me” she hoped he was able to have a “lasting effect” on the department.

“His burden is now lifted, and he can truly rest in peace knowing he made a difference in the lives of so many people,” she wrote.

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