Suspect’s arrest raises more questions for family of missing Los Lunas woman

New Mexico

A Valencia County woman is still missing, but her ex-boyfriend is now charged with her murder. The 49-year-old grandmother vanished seven months ago, and even with a suspect facing charges, her family says the case is far from closed. 

A family is coming to terms with what they’ve feared for months—the confirmation that their missing mother and grandmother, Rita Jaramillo, was murdered. 

“She’s not going to be able to come home,” Denise Fay, Jaramillo’s daughter, said. “Now that everything has come out, it’s like that little bit of hope that we had is completely gone.” 

Seven months after she vanished, Jaramillo’s ex-boyfriend, Arthur Lovato, is now facing charges for her murder. “Something was off about him,” Fay said. 

Jaramillo’s daughter, Denise Fay, always suspected Lovato was the reason her always reliable mom stopped answering her calls. “I miss her always messaging me, telling me she loved me,” Fay said. 

She also believes Lovato started the mysterious fire that gutted Jaramillo’s home near Los Lunas just days later. “He would say, ‘Oh, I thank God for your mom and I love her so much, and this and that, but…he didn’t love her,” Fay said. 

Details of this investigation are sealed, leaving the family wondering what police believe connects Lovato to the crime, and where their mother may be buried. “How do you kill somebody and take away their…and not let them come home? Not let their family have peace? That’s evil. Only evil would do that,” Fay said. 

Jaramillo’s daughter says the family can’t fully grieve the loss of their mother until she’s back home, promising to keep searching until she’s found. “I know she would’ve done anything for me and now it’s my chance to prove I’ll do anything for her too,” Fay said. 

Lovato does have a violent past, pleading guilty to abusing a child and aggravated battery on a peace officer. He is currently serving time in Grants on an unrelated matter. 

It’s not clear when the details of this case could be unsealed. 

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