Sam Vigil says maybe now he can sleep better - Albuquerque Journal

Sam Vigil says maybe now he can sleep better

Sam Vigil, Jacqueline Vigil’s husband, speaks during an Operation Legend event in the East Room of the White House last month. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

For more than six months, the family of Jacqueline “Jacque” Vigil waited for word that her killer had been caught.

They had no idea, her husband, Sam B. Vigil, told the Journal on Wednesday, that a man identified back in January as the primary suspect in the homicide had been in federal detention in Texas for months.

Since the death of his wife of 18 years, Vigil said, he would get regular calls from Albuquerque police reminding him detectives were working the case. But he said he was left “with that anxiety that not enough is being done.”

Then came the phone call in July asking if he would appear with President Donald Trump at the White House. On July 22, he spoke about his wife as the president announced a new federal crackdown, Operation Legend, to help cities including Albuquerque tackle such cases.

Vigil said an FBI-led violent crime task force quickly took over the investigation and he began to see progress.

“When I would hear the rumors, my hopes would get high that maybe somebody was going to get arrested.”

Not until Wednesday did Vigil finally know the details when he received a phone call from John Anderson, the U.S. attorney for New Mexico.

That’s when he learned that the suspect, Luis Talamantes, 33, had been picked up based on a number of anonymous tips to Albuquerque Police Crime Stoppers in the weeks after the homicide.

Vigil said he still struggles daily with the loss of his wife, who was shot to death in her 2006 Cadillac as she left her home for the gym that early morning on Nov. 19, 2019.

Talamantes isn’t charged in Vigil’s death, but federal prosecutors cite the homicide in seeking an enhanced sentence of 20 years in prison on his pending charge of aggravated illegal reentry.

“Once the federal agents started working the case, things began to happen,” Vigil said during the Journal interview.

If they hadn’t been assigned?

“I’m not really sure,” he told the Journal. “We might not even be having this conversation, and it’s sad.”

Mayor Tim Keller said in a news release Wednesday that the suspect had been “arrested as a result of the work of APD homicide detectives long before Operation Legend and the U.S. attorney got involved.”

“For many months, we have been aware that we were making real progress on the case but couldn’t comment publicly, or push back on a lot of myths being said about our Police Department,” he said.

Vigil said that he still doesn’t know how his wife’s case was selected by the Trump administration for the Operation Legend project, but that he wonders about other families still waiting to hear of arrests in their loved one’s unsolved killings.

“When I went to Washington, my hopes were elevated. But I didn’t really think things were going to happen so quickly. They really went for it.”

The months since Jacque’s death haven’t been easy, he said.

“I still struggle on a daily basis. It’s really hard to be without my wife. Like I’ve said, we were handed down a life sentence … not just me, but other people who lost loved ones through violent crimes. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Yet, he said, he now may start to sleep better at night.

“I think I will, knowing that somebody is locked up,” he said.

Feds ID suspect in woman’s November death

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