RIO GRANDE COUNTY — A preliminary hearing was scheduled this week for Jimmy “Cricket” Garcia, arrested in late 2020 on charges related to the death of 23-year-old Jacque Jones.
Garcia was charged with suspicion of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. The charges carry a domestic violence enhancer, which increases the range of sentencing in convictions.
At this point, the story can only be told from the perspective of the victim’s family. Since Garcia’s arrest, all court documents were sealed. Even charging documents were sealed until several months ago. Law enforcement and the 12th Judicial District Attorney's Office were also unable to comment.
The preliminary hearing is the culmination of seven years of the Jones family waiting for action to be taken in the prosecution of, what they believe was, Jones’ murder. It is also the result of several years and hundreds of hours of investigation by the Monte Vista Police Department (MVPD), specifically Officer Michael Martinez, with assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. It is also the result of a decision by Robert Willett, former DA for the 12th Judicial District.
“The case was under two district attorneys before me,” Willett says. “What prompted me was a phone call from [MV Police Chief] George Dingfelder and Michael Martinez who wanted to staff the case with cold case prosecutors, homicide detectives and forensic pathologists. So, we did, with about 30 of them in the room. The [process] is a real crucible, with them asking Martinez and me a lot of questions about the case. Based on the evidence, they agreed that it was definitely chargeable.” Willett added, “And I wanted to give the victim’s family some closure.”
Even after seven years, Jennifer Jones-Kelleher still relives the morning of March 26, 2014, when she got the news that her daughter was dead. She got a 7 a.m. phone call from Jacque’s uncle who had shown up at the house in Monte Vista where Jacque was staying only to be met by police cars and an ambulance.
“He told me Jacque was gone,” Jones-Kelleher recalls. “I remember thinking, gone? Gone where? And then he repeated it and said she was dead.”
Four agonizing hours followed, as Jones-Kelleher tried to get someone to drive her to Monte Vista to see her daughter herself, but people were afraid of how that would impact her. And, finally, the phone call came that confirmed Jacque’s death. Jones-Kelleher says she remembers screaming and the ground fading away.
Despite the emotional chaos, Jones-Kelleher says she knew “in her heart” what had happened. “Garcia had killed her. She was leaving him, and we knew — Jacque knew — he wouldn’t be happy about it.”
Garcia, with whom Jacque Jones had been in a relationship, was older than Jones. After being introduced by a mutual friend, they became involved in a relationship that Jones’ family alleges turned abusive.
“We all knew right away he wasn’t good for her,” Jenn, a lifelong family friend, says. “He was 37 years old — 14 years older than her. And we knew he’d been in trouble with the police. Jimmy dominated her. He controlled every part of her life. What she did. Who she talked to. He limited contact with her family. She said he wouldn’t even let her take a shower with the door closed and that, if she ever tried to leave him, he’d said he’d kill her.”
“It broke our hearts,” says Becky Blevins, Jacque’s aunt. “Even when she was a little girl, Jacque was always happy and loving. She always saw the good in people and was very trusting.”
“Too trusting,” Jenn says.
In the months before she died, Jones was in a rehabilitation facility where, her family says, she decided to end the relationship. After completing rehab, she rented an apartment in Alamosa and started moving in. According to her mother, a few days before she died, Jones told her she was going to Garcia’s house to get her car.
“I begged her to let me go with her,” Jones-Kelleher says. “But she said no. She said if she didn’t go by herself, he’d think she was scared of him.”
The night of March 25, Jacque spoke to her grandmother, reminding her to pick her up the next morning for an appointment. That was the last time anyone in Jacque Jones’ family spoke with her.
At approximately 6:45 a.m. on March 26, officers with the MVPD were dispatched to Garcia’s residence where they found Jones, unconscious and non-responsive. An emergency room physician told them to stop resuscitation and pronounced her deceased. Jones’ body was transported to the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s Office on March 27, and CBI was called in to assist the MVPD with the investigation. Initially, the cause of death was listed as unknown but was subsequently changed to “suicide.”
Jennifer Jones-Kelleher and her family were outraged when they learned the news, even after the cause of death was later changed back to unknown.
“Jacque would never have committed suicide,” Jones-Kelleher says. “She was moving into an apartment she’d rented in Alamosa. She was planning to spend Easter with her young son and family. She wanted to go back to college. She had a lot to live for — a child, a loving family, many friends, support and encouragement. After her father’s death when she was thirteen, her younger brothers meant everything to her. She would never have put them through another loss. She would never have left her son who was the light of her life. Never.”
Both Blevins and Jenn agree. “She’d started a new life, clean and sober. She had so many plans for the future. She even told her grandmother to make sure and be on time to pick her up the next morning — who does that if they’re going to commit suicide?” Jenn says.
Over the following months, Jones’ family grew increasingly frustrated as they read of further encounters between Garcia and MVPD, including his arrest and conviction for robbery in 2016. At that time, Garcia was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Nonetheless, as an investigation into her murder was ongoing, they remained hopeful. And they still are.
“We have to put our faith in the district attorney and his staff that they will work diligently for justice for our daughter. We are hopeful that they will bring on an additional prosecutor with cold case prosecution experience.”
In the meantime, the family is back to waiting.
“If the last seven years has taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing we can do but wait,” Jones-Kelleher says.