A woman has been accused of faking her own kidnapping and leading cops on a deadly highway chase, and authorities said the fake story followed a number of similar disturbing claims against her.
Jeannine Jaramillo, 46, faces two counts of murder in the first degree and other charges for allegedly killing Santa Fe Police Officer Robert Duran, 43, and retired firefighter Frank Lovato, 62.
According to the New Mexico State Police, Santa Fe police initiated a pursuit with a white Chevrolet Malibu on Wednesday. At first, this was considered an alleged kidnapping and carjacking. State cops were asked to help.
The pursuit reached a tragic conclusion after the driver went the wrong way on Interstate 25, going south on northbound lanes, cops said.
“Near milepost 286 just north of Old Pecos Trail a crash occurred involving at least 5 vehicles, two Santa Fe Police patrol units, Malibu, two uninvolved vehicles, a pickup truck, and a blue car,” officers said.
This was the fatal collision. Lovato was the driver of the pickup truck.
“The events of that crash are still under investigation by the New Mexico State Police Uniform Bureau and New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit,” cops said.
After the crash, Jaramillo, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said she was the victim of a kidnapping. She and witnesses said that an unidentified man fled the area on foot, wearing a red shirt, black pants, and a black jacket, police said.
But investigators said they executed a search warrant on the Chevrolet Malibu. In their account, they saw that only the driver’s seat of the car was occupied at the time of the crash. In addition, Jaramillo’s DNA matched what was found on the driver’s airbag, officers said.
The Malibu had been reported stolen from Las Vegas, New Mexico on Feb. 28, cops said.
“The owner of the vehicle was warming up the Malibu and left the key fob in the vehicle at the time the vehicle was stolen,” officers wrote. “The key fob for the Chevrolet Malibu was located in the back seat of the Santa Fe Police vehicle Jaramillo was placed in after the crash.”
Speaking between the crash and her Saturday arrest, Jaramillo told KOB that her boyfriend kidnapped her at knifepoint. He also had a gun, she said.
Jaramillo claimed to have blacked out during the crash and that she did not remember how the boyfriend escaped. The outlet learned through a search warrant that officers only saw her, and no one else, leave the vehicle.
“I believe people should understand that when you are involved in a situation like that, I don’t think that it is right for them to say things, 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 everything, a high-speed chase, I was scared for my life.”
Jaramillo, however, was previously accused of blaming a boyfriend at least twice for crimes she committed, according to the outlet. In one incident, she alleged that a man held her at knifepoint during a police chase. Cops did not find any boyfriends.
“My life has been pretty rough lately,” she told KOB. “I mean, I haven’t made the best choices in relationships at all lately. And it seems I’m just going to stay single because this is too much.”
Meanwhile, Officer Duran’s loved ones are mourning his death. He shared two sons with wife Kathleen Duran.
“After much thought and prayer, Robert chose to become a police officer with the City of Santa Fe in 2015,” she wrote in a statement through the Santa Fe Police Department. “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. He had always considered law enforcement as a career but did not want to risk not being here for his boys. It came down to preserving a future for our children that compelled him to take a leap of faith and follow his heart. 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?”
Lovato was simply out running errands when he died, according to KOB. He retired from the fire department in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 2006 as an engineer. He started his career at age 18. Firefighters honored him in a procession starting in Albuquerque and heading up Interstate 25.
A picture of 62-year-old Frank Lovato. It was taken when he retired from the Las Vegas Fire Department in 2006. Lovato has been identified as the driver killed in yesterday’s crash on I25 that also took the life of a Santa Fe Police Officer. How Lovato is being remembered, at 5. pic.twitter.com/XW9aqIFxT2
— Kai Porter (@KaiPorterKOB) March 3, 2022
Lovato’s former colleagues said he was selfless, down to earth, and the definition of a public servant, according to the outlet.
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