Hernández man interviewed in girlfriend’s death

October 13, 2018

When New Mexico State Police officers arrived at a home on Rio Arriba County Road 1 in Hernández early Oct. 4, they discovered blood in the home, a dead woman lying on the living room floor and her drunk boyfriend in tears, court documents say.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed Tuesday in state District Court, police responding to a 911 call from the woman’s boyfriend found the battered body of Valerie Trujillo, 50, covered with a blanket.

The cause of her death remains a mystery.

State police spokesman Officer Ray Wilson did not return emails seeking comment on whether Trujillo’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

Trujillo’s boyfriend, Orlando Salazar, 49, reported to 911 dispatchers that she had fallen down and had been “lying on the floor for three hours,” the affidavit says.

He told officers responding to the scene that he and Trujillo were both longtime alcoholics, and that Trujillo had been in withdrawal from alcohol for three days, falling down repeatedly throughout the home.

When medical investigators uncovered Trujillo’s body, it emitted a “strong odor of alcohol,” the affidavit says.

Though, there was no alcohol in view in the home: “It appeared the kitchen and various parts of the residence were cleaned up.”

Officers found clothing in the washing machine stained “with what appeared to be fecal matter and possible blood,” and what “appeared to be blood in various areas of the residence,” the affidavit says.

The document also notes injuries to Trujillo’s body: She had a large contusion on the top of her head “with what appeared to be dry blood.”

She had bruises throughout her body, and medical investigators believe she had fractured ribs.

Salazar, who was barefoot at the time, asked police if he could put on his shoes.

But when an officer picked up the shoes, the affidavit says, “he observed three to four strands of hair, wadded underneath the sole of the shoe with possible blood.”

Police put Salazar in investigative detention, the document says, and took photos of his body, took his fingerprints, and collected DNA samples and swabs from his fingernails.

Online court records didn’t indicate Salazar had been charged with any crimes in connection with Trujillo’s death as of Friday afternoon.

Attempts to contact Salazar and members of Trujillo’s family for comment on the death were unsuccessful.

Both Salazar and Trujillo have had brief brushes with the law in the past.

According to online court records, Salazar pleaded guilty in 2010 to attempting to traffic a controlled substance and was charged with resisting, evading or obstructing an officer and aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony in 2008. But those counts were dismissed by prosecutors.

Trujillo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of tampering with evidence in 1998, pleaded guilty to one count of violating a law against pyramid schemes in 2002 and faced a number of other charges — including fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer — that were later dropped by prosecutors.

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