Santa Fe, NM – A woman who claimed to be the victim of a kidnapping that led to a high-speed chase resulting in the deaths of a Santa Fe police officer and a retired Las Vegas firefighter allegedly lied to investigators about being abducted, according to court documents.
The incident began at approximately 11:06 a.m. on March 2, when the Santa Fe Police Department (SFPD) received a report of an armed carjacking in progress at the Rancho Vizcaya Apartments, KOB reported.
Police were told a male with a knife stole a vehicle with a woman inside and drove off.
Officers spotted the stolen car within approximately 10 minutes and began chasing the driver near St. Francis Drive and Sawmill Road, KOB reported.
The suspect drove onto I-25 and started traveling northbound in the southbound lanes, according to police.
The driver made a U-turn between the Old Pecos Trail exit and the Eldorado exit and sped off into oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes, KOB reported.
A four-vehicle collision occurred near mile marker 285 involving the stolen vehicle, two SFPD units, and a civilian motorist, according to police.
SFPD Officer Robert Duran, 43, and the civilian motorist, 62-year-old retired Las Vegas Firefighter Frank Lovato, were killed in the crash, KOB reported.
The woman who claimed to have been kidnapped was transported to a hospital for injuries and has since been released.
“I crawled out the driver side window, I fell to the ground and I looked up and there was the police, and I just ran for my life, and I was screaming, ‘help me,'” she said in an interview after being released from the hospital, according to CBS News. “I’m crying, I was hysterical, I was in shock.”
Investigators later said the car the suspect was driving had been reported stolen out of Las Vegas, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Police initially believed the kidnapping suspect fled the scene after the crash, but recently-released court documents indicated the elusive suspect never even existed, KOB reported.
The alleged kidnapping victim, 46-year-old Jeannine Jaramillo, was behind the wheel at the time of the deadly crash and was never a victim at all, according to police.
Evidence found at the scene indicated she was alone in the vehicle, they said.
Jaramillo said it was unfair for anyone to suggest that she wasn’t a victim.
“I think 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 that have their opinion, like that, until they are in a situation like that themselves,” she said, according to CBS News.
Jaramillo was arrested on Saturday and has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as tampering with evidence, receiving and transferring a stolen vehicle, and reckless homicide by vehicle, CBS News reported.
“The New Mexico State Police have concluded through our detailed investigation that there was never a kidnapping or a male suspect involved,” a New Mexico State Police (NMSP) spokesperson explained during a press conference, according to KOB. “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 Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and all of New Mexico.”
Investigators said Jaramillo’s DNA was found on the driver’s side airbag after the crash.
“We believe Jaramillo led officers on a chase, driving the suspect car and causing the fatal crash that killed officer Duran and Mr. Lovato,” the NMSP spokesperson confirmed, according to KOB.
Jaramillo has had a multitude of run-ins with law enforcement over the years, including allegedly trying to hit a Bernalillo County deputy with a stolen car in 2015, but few of the charges against her ever turned into convictions, KOB reported.
Investigators noted that the suspect was found to have lied about her boyfriend allegedly being involved in crimes on at least two occasions in the past.
As recently as September of 2021, Jaramillo sped through multiple red lights and drove into oncoming traffic in Cibola County, nearly causing several collisions, KOB reported.
When police tracked her down at her home, she claimed her boyfriend was on the floorboard of the vehicle, holding a knife to her neck and forcing her to drive recklessly, according to investigators.
Police located methamphetamine in her car, but the charges against her were ultimately dismissed.
Cibola County sheriff’s deputies dealt with Jaramillo again the following month after they found her near a stolen utility bucket truck that went into the ditch off of Interstate 40, KOB reported.
She claimed she was with her boyfriend, but police were unable to locate anyone else in the area during their search.
“The events from this case are the same as the last stolen motor vehicle from the area,” investigators said at the time.
Charges filed against Jaramillo in connection with that incident were also ultimately dismissed.
Jaramillo has been booked into the Santa Fe Adult Detention Center on the first-degree murder charges, KOB reported.
She faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.