- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The family of Ignacia Saiz was surprised to learn Monday that medical investigators had found “no obvious signs of trauma,” despite her being found dead in the desolate Pajarito Mesa on Sunday morning with what they said appeared to be a gunshot wound to her head.

“I’m shocked,” said sister Alfie Montano. “I don’t know what to say. I could have sworn that it was. I mean, I saw it.”

A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Sgt. Aaron Williamson, said deputies are waiting for the Office of the Medical Investigator to determine the cause of death. He said in a news briefing Monday that the office still considered the death “suspicious,” but was gathering more information, conducting interviews and waiting on the OMI, which could take as long as a month to determine a cause of death.

The OMI’s determination is a new development in what was a long and emotionally fraught day for Saiz’s extended family, which had been searching for her on horseback and ATVs since Friday after she disappeared Thursday.

They discovered her body Sunday morning around the same time that Saiz’s nephew, Edward Jaramillo, 45, was in a standoff with the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team at a nearby, off-the-grid compound. He died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head after the eight-hour standoff, Williamson said, and was wanted on a felony warrant out of Colorado.

Also on Sunday, A.B. Swanson, aka Alvin Swanson, was arrested for allegedly harboring Jaramillo at a compound on his large property on the Pajarito Mesa.

Swanson is well known to county zoning officials for what some estimates say are a quarter of a million tires he’s allowed to be piled on his property, with many of them soaking in the nearby Rio Puerco.

Williamson said it wasn’t clear how Swanson, 66, came to know Jaramillo or Saiz’s son, Leandro Saiz, 42, who had stayed for a time at the compound before being arrested in an unrelated case.

The lack of obvious trauma contradicts the family’s statement about what they saw when they discovered their relative. Williamson also said the family was mistaken about the distance between the compound and Saiz’s body.

Family members said they found Saiz a half-mile north of the compound, but Williamson said it was more like five miles. He did not respond to a phone call seeking a map or further specifics on the location of the body Monday afternoon.

Jaramillo and Saiz’s son reportedly had possession of a camper trailer that Saiz owned and wanted returned. That’s why she set out on the sparsely populated mesa to find the pair at Swanson’s compound. Her vehicle was found Friday with its steering wheel, tires and stereo stolen, according to family and sheriff’s deputies.

Family members also insist her body must have been dumped in the mesa, because they had been in the spot her body was found as late as 10 p.m. Saturday. Williamson said it’s possible the family confused different parts of the sprawling, flat mesa and that their relative’s body was beginning to decompose — potentially appearing as if it had suffered trauma.

“I’m not an expert, but it looked like something on the side of her head,” said brother-in-law Carlos Montano, who was among the people who found her body. “I guess we’ll have to see.”

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Topics: t000027855,t000003142

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