A Pueblo man wanted for leaving the scene of a deadly car crash in June has been captured by U.S. Marshals in New Mexico.
Federal officials tell KRDO NewsChannel 13 that Frankie "Abba" Perea, 26, was arrested in Taos on Wednesday on suspicion of vehicular homicide.
Pueblo police say Perea was behind the wheel of a car that crashed into a power pole and killed Bernadette Trujillo, 16, on June 13 at the intersection of Northern Ave. and Pueblo Blvd.
Pueblo police say Perea was tracked to the home of family members in Taos. The U.S. Marshall's Service, New Mexico State Police and local law enforcement went to the home Wednesday morning. Perea ran out of the back of the home. He was found and arrested in an open field following an extensive search.
There were three active warrants for Perea at the time of his arrest. Those warrants were for vehicular homicide, escape and possession of schedule II drugs.
Perea is now in the custody of the New Mexico State Police and is facing extradition to Colorado. It's unknown when he will return to Pueblo.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 spoke exclusively with Trujillo's mother, Nancy Carbajal, after she heard the news about Perea.
"I was starting to think that it was probably going to take years and years until they caught him," Carbajal said.
She said she feels relief that Perea is now in custody. "I'm happy because he's been caught, but the sadness is never going to go away. I'm sad all the time."
Her daughter's friends and family have been her biggest support. Carbajal said Perea was once part of that support system.
"He wanted to help her in school and stuff like that, he led me to believe he cared. I thought he was a close friend of my daughters, is what I thought," explained Carbajal.
Her family believes Bernadette is in peace, but the thoughts of her daughter's final moments often run through Carbajal's mind.
"I just picture my daughter. I just picture my daughter and I hope she didn't feel no pain when this happened. And I hope she wasn't scared," she said. "And I hope she didn't know they left her like that. You know, I'm hoping maybe she died instantly and didn't know that they ran. I didn't want her to feel alone."
But it's how her daughter lived, not how she died, that Carbajal wants her daughter to be remembered.
"My daughter was a very caring person. She was a loving person. She was always happy. Always wanted everybody to laugh and be happy and have fun. She went out of her way to make people feel comfortable. She was always spunky, always loud, loved to talk," she said.
The family is accepting donations to pay for costs it has incurred with the funeral. Donations can be made to the Bernadette Trujillo Memorial Fund with Roseanne E. Martinez. The family has an account set up at Security Service Federal Credit Union but donations are being accepted at all credit unions.