Couple charged in girl’s loss of life »Albuquerque Journal

Josephina Ortega, 86 (Courtesy Brandon Bilak)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

When an 86-year-old great-grandmother was found dead in her house on a quiet cul-de-sac on the foothills last year – her hands were cuffed behind her back and suffocated with a plastic bag over her head – she was in her pajamas.

Josephina Ortega’s family say the pajamas immediately made them suspect of having been killed by someone they knew and trusted. Otherwise she would have been wearing a robe.

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Detectives believe they were right.

Last week, on April 3, a grand jury indicted Ortega’s nephew and girlfriend on multiple charges, including murder, burglary and conspiracy.

Craig Smith

55-year-old Craig Smith was already in jail awaiting trial in another murder case – the murder of 56-year-old Terry Williams, whose body was burned in the woods on a road near Cedro Peak in the East Mountains in April 2017 has been. An arrest warrant has been issued for his girlfriend Evonne Jaramillo, 40, after she failed to appear at a court hearing on Wednesday.

None of the Albuquerque Police Department spokespersons answered questions about the case, including whether Jaramillo was found late Wednesday.

Brandon Bilak, Ortega’s grandson, told the Journal on Wednesday that his “Uncle Craig” babysat him when he was younger but then began to run afoul of the law.

Evonne Jaramillo

According to online court records, Smith was charged with drugs and burglary in the late 1990s and convicted of bank robbery in 2005 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

But Bilak said the past few years seemed to have changed Smith’s life, including working for the city. Court documents indicate that Smith worked for the Albuquerque Housing Authority.

Bilak said he hadn’t seen Smith in a couple of years and found it strange when Ortega mentioned on Mother’s Day last year that Smith had come over early that morning with donuts. It was the last time Bilak, his sister and their children saw Ortega.

Five days later, they received a phone call saying she had been killed. There was no cash or jewelry in their house.

“She was a 90-pound little old lady,” said Bilak. “In my head thinking about what happened to her and that someone did this to her and how scared my poor little grandma was … it’s tough.”

Bought zip ties

According to court documents, Walmart surveillance cameras showed Smith bought the same zip ties that were used to tie Ortega. And although he told detectives that he wasn’t anywhere near Ortega’s house at the time of her death, his work and cell phone records show differently. Ortega lived on the 11000 block of Euclid Court NE near Juan Tabo and the Indian School.

“The defendant was driving a white Nissan sedan at the time of the murder, and that car was videotaped near the scene of the murder at the time of the murder,” prosecutors wrote in a request for remand. “The defendant was also videotaped driving into an ATM and deposited $ 600 in cash within 24 hours of the murder on May 19, 2017.”

A motion filed in Jaramillo’s case states that her DNA was found on a “lipstick-stained cigarette butt outside the home of murder” and that she made four very brief phone calls to Ortega on the night of the murder.

Suspect at the funeral

Bilak said Smith attended Ortega’s funeral about a week after her death, offering condolences and sharing a meal with the other mourners.

Terry Williams

He was arrested a few weeks later and charged with the murder of Williams’ death.

Police say Smith and possibly others lured Williams into a trailer park near Big I and robbed him because they knew he was selling “large quantities of cocaine.” This case is still pending.

Jaramillo was charged, but not charged, with illegally stealing a motor vehicle in connection with Williams’ death.

“He was there, that man’s gall to act like everything was natural and everything was fine,” said Bilak. “We started to think it had to be Craig. We knew it was someone we knew. It had to be either a close friend or a close family and there was no one to think of. “

Josephina Ortega, 86, was found dead and tied with cable ties in her house on the 11000 block of the Euclidean Court NE in May 2017.

The next time Bilak saw Smith he was in a court hearing on Wednesday when the suspect was handcuffed around the courtroom.

“He saw us today and tried to say,” I didn’t do this to us, “said Bilak.” I understand, we’re a family, but we’re not a family at the moment. My grandma was very, very important to me. “

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