ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nine months after the murder of Jacqueline Vigil, the mother of two New Mexico State Police Officers, authorities announced a suspect in the case.
Federal court documents reveal, the Albuquerque Police Department had piles of evidence stacked up against the suspect at the beginning of 2020, so, it is not clear why this announcement took so long or why the suspect has not officially been charged.
“I didn’t even know if they would ever find him because it took this long, you know. I think it was before Christmas last year,” said Louise Kline, one of Vigil’s former neighbors.
The murder of Jackie Vigil brought her Westside Albuquerque neighborhood to its knees.
“Yes, we’ve been really nervous, all the neighbors have been nervous,” said Jani Riffe, a neighbor.
While the public is just now finding out about the suspect, APD says they’ve known Luis Talamantes-Romero was their guy for months.
On Wednesday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Mike Geier said in a statement, “The suspect was identified and arrested as a result of the work of APD homicide detectives long before Operation Legend and the U.S. Attorney got involved.”
In federal court filings released Wednesday, it appears APD’s case against Talamantes-Romero came together quite quickly.
A week after the murder, investigators say Talamantes-Romero’s own sister handed over the jeep that they believe was used as the getaway car in the murder. Investigators say a bullet casing found inside the Jeep matched one collected from Vigil’s murder scene.
A relative of Talamantes-Romero told investigators that Talamantes-Romero showed up to his house on the day of the murder “distraught and crying.” The relative also stated that Talamantes-Romero said “he had messed up and killed a woman.”
Investigators also say they have Talamantes-Romero on a recorded phone call with an inmate at MDC from the day Vigil was murdered, saying, ‘what happened was not supposed to happen.’
By January, APD had received seven anonymous tips all identifying Talamantes-Romero, a known gang member and thief, as the person responsible for Vigil’s murder. Two of the tips also provided a picture of Talamantes-Romero.
The final Crime Stopper tip, revealed in federal documents, was reported just five days before ICE arrested the 33-year-old Mexican national in San Antonio, Texas.
ICE arrested Talamantes-Romero for illegally reentering the United States. Talamantes-Romero was first deported in 2006, again in 2008, and he was deported for the third time in 2019.
Talamantes-Romero served time from 2009-2014 for a series of crimes in Albuquerque. He also served time from 2015-2019 for eluding a police officer in Colorado, being in the country illegally, and other charges.
After being deported for the third time in September 2019, investigators say Talamantes-Romero came back to New Mexico within the month.
Just two months later, on November 19, 2019, Talamantes-Romero is accused of senselessly killing Jackie Vigil in her driveway as she was getting ready to leave for her daily, morning workout at the gym.
“I was hoping they would find him, it wouldn’t be one of those crimes that go unsolved,” said Kline.
Talamantes-Romero pleaded guilty to being in the country illegally after ICE agents arrested him in January 2020.
A U.S. Attorney in Texas is arguing that a judge put Talamantes-Romero behind bars for 20 years, citing his long, violent criminal history and repeated failure to stay out of the United States after being deported.
As part of U.S. Attorney John Bash’s argument, he said:
“As a consequence of Defendant’s actions, this is no ordinary illegal re-entry case. Indeed, the only reason that Defendant is before this Court in San Antonio is because he chose to flee to San Antonio after killing a woman in cold blood. Again, Defendant was not present in this country to earn a living wage and send it back to his family. He wasn’t contributing to American society or living a peaceful life. Instead, Defendant has spent his time while illegally in this country as a violent gang member, breaking into cars, stealing firearms, and chasing people in his car and firing at them. He decided to kill someone because she was backing out of her garage while he was lurking in her driveway. And he did this all despite having been deported or removed from the United States three times.”
Talamantes-Romero is scheduled to be sentenced on that federal charge in September.
Talamantes-Romero has not been charged in connection to Vigil’s murder. It is not clear when that may happen.
Talamantes-Romero is known to go by many aliases and has been arrested on a slew of violent crimes in New Mexico and Colorado dating back to 2007. He also has a long history of being deported to Mexico.
Luis Talamantes-Romero Sentencing Memorandum
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