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Family left in the dark after mysterious death

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The afternoon before his death, Tyrone Jaramillo, 27, was seen walking a dog on a leash near Alameda and Coors NW, a busy area crammed with a barbecue joint, optical shop, coffeehouse, mortgage lender and auto parts store. It was a cool, partly cloudy Wednesday in November, six days after Thanksgiving.

 Tyrone Jaramillo

Tyrone Jaramillo

The next morning, employees of the auto parts store taking out trash found him, kneeling, face upward, the dog leash and choke chain wrapped around his neck and attached to the side of a dumpster on the southeast side of the store.

There was no sign of a dog.

On a two-page report dated Nov. 30, 2017, an Albuquerque police officer classified the death as a suicide.

The state Office of the Medical Investigator, which performed the autopsy on Dec. 1, also categorized Jaramillo’s death as a suicide by hanging.

But why the Albuquerque man would take his life in such a manner and in that location remain unknown.

To his sister, Raquel Jaramillo, the bigger question is whether he actually took his life or whether someone else did. And the even bigger question she has is, why did it take nearly two months for her and her family to be told he was dead?

“We didn’t get to have an open casket or view the body because he was too decomposed by the time we heard he was there,” the Los Lunas woman said. “Why didn’t they notify us sooner?”

Siblings, from left, Raquel Jaramillo and brother Tyrone Jaramillo, right, in a 2012 portrait of the Jaramillo family. Tyrone was found dead at Alameda and Coors NW on Nov. 30, but his family wasn't notified until January

Siblings, from left, Raquel Jaramillo and brother Tyrone Jaramillo, right, in a 2012 portrait of the Jaramillo family. Tyrone was found dead at Alameda and Coors NW on Nov. 30, but his family wasn’t notified until January. (Courtesy of Raquel Jaramillo)

That, too, remains unanswered. At the time of his death, Tyrone Jaramillo was carrying a wallet with a driver’s license, credit card and a cellphone – any of which, one might assume, could have helped identify next of kin. In addition, information could potentially have been gleaned from records of a few criminal charges he had incurred – misdemeanor disorderly conduct and possession of paraphernalia in 2011, both dismissed, and a 2008 burglary charge from Los Lunas that was dismissed just three months before he died.

The OMI report also indicates that authorities were aware of Jaramillo’s medical history, described as “significant for psychiatric issues and intravenous drug use.” Perhaps those records included an emergency contact.

Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said he could not provide further information on the case, because it remains under investigation. Yvonne Villalobos, director of operations at OMI, said she could not comment on specific cases. She suggested that family members could contact the OMI pathologist directly with questions.

But Raquel said she called the OMI and was told no one was available to speak with her. Even her request for her brother’s autopsy report in January was not fulfilled until last week after I started making calls.

“No one tells us anything,” she said.

She concedes that it might have taken extra effort to locate her brother’s family, but that they deserved to know. His driver’s license, she said, had their mother’s old Arizona address, but everything else likely would have led authorities to her Los Lunas address. His cellphone would have contained phone numbers. His mail and disability checks, which he receives because of an unspecified mental illness, are sent to her address.

Tyrone, she said, was her only brother. Their childhood was happy, but as an adult he struggled because of mental illness and self-medicating with alcohol and meth. Sometimes he lived with her in Los Lunas; sometimes with their mother in Phoenix.

Last August, he hopped a Greyhound bus back to New Mexico and resided with her in Los Lunas briefly. From what she can determine, he left her house and was hospitalized briefly in the mental health unit at Kaseman Presbyterian Hospital in October for reasons hospital officials will not tell her.

From there, she said, he was sent to a group home on the West Side and called her every day, sounding healthier and happier. He had met a woman while he was hospitalized, she said.

“He wanted to bring her to meet us at Thanksgiving,” she said.

He also told her he had saved up $4,000 and planned to buy her a Christmas present, she said.

But the calls stopped in November. He was a no-show Thanksgiving. Raquel said she called hospitals and mental health facilities looking for him, but no one would tell her anything because of medical confidentiality laws.

“I finally decided to make a missing persons report in January, and the next day a violent crimes detective called me and told me he had bad news,” she said. “All that time my brother was just lying there in a bag.”

Since then, she has heard nothing further from Albuquerque police. Learning that her brother’s death is still under investigation came as a surprise to her, she said.

No one, she said, had told her.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, jkrueger@abqjournal.com or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.

 

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