For six months, Lillian Lopez has been living every mother’s worst nightmare.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, Lillian buried her two middle sons.
The brothers — David Lopez, 23, and Anthony Lopez, 20 — were killed in the family’s Meadow Lake home in the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 20, while Lillian was out of town.
Since then, she hasn’t returned home, hasn’t fully mourned her sons, hasn’t received answers.
“I can’t go back there, inside. I’ve made it into the yard, but …” Lillian says, choking back tears. “Their blood is still in that house.”
Friends and strangers have packed up personal belongings and put them in storage, she said, but beyond that Lillian isn’t sure of the condition of the home she shared with her three sons.
“They were inseparable — David and Anthony. They loved working on cars, being in the mountains, being around family and friends,” she said. “They were homebodies.”
David worked in construction, doing counter top installations, but Anthony was unable to work, due to epileptic seizures that developed after a 2016 car crash.
When Lillian wasn’t home, David looked after his brother, who couldn’t be left alone, along with a dog that eventually claimed Anthony.
“David actually bought the dog. She was his, but one day she kept jumping up on Anthony and he was pushing him down, wouldn’t let him get up. He ended up having a seizure,” she said. “She just kind of took him over.”
The female pit bull, Akira, now belongs to Lillian, something that is bitter sweet for her.
“It sounds weird, and if someone had said it to me I wouldn’t have believed it, but I feel them in her. They live on through her,” she said, wiping away tears.
The weekend of the murders, Lillian said she left on Friday, instead of Saturday morning as initially planned.
“When I got home, they told me to go ahead and go, enjoy my weekend. I had a weird vibe but went ahead and left,” she said.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, she got a call from a friend telling her something was going on at the house — something bad. Unable to reach David or Anthony, Lillian logged into her home security system, which has cameras inside the house and outside.
As she watched the footage, she saw a man, later identified as 18-year-old Isaac Jaramillo, leave the house Saturday evening, get into Anthony’s Jeep and crash through the closed gate.
Then she saw law enforcement officers entering the home. Frantic to know what was happening, Lillian turned on the audio to the cameras.
“I heard one of the officers say it looked like the two decedents were related … that’s how I found out they were dead.”
When she was able to contact deputies from the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, they told her not to come to the house. She went to her mother’s home in Los Lunas and waited.
Officers were able to tell her David had been shot and killed, but the identity of the second person was still unclear.
David was shot more than five times, Lillian said, while Anthony was shot point blank in the head.
It took two days before her youngest son could be positively identified by the Office of the Medical Investigator. They were able to verify his identity due to a missing front tooth that was knocked out during a seizure.
Lillian said she is still waiting for VCSO to return her sons’ personal belongings — jewelry and a class ring.
“It’s been six months. This guy needs to be caught,” she said. “You see all this crime on the media and people getting caught. I’ve had people tell me they’ve seen (Jaramillo) in Meadow Lake and El Cerro, that he’s still here.”
The 18-year-old charged with her sons’ murders — Isaac “Beast Mode” Jaramillo — is still at large, a no-bond arrest warrant issued for him in late October.
Jaramillo is a complete unknown to Lillian, saying she’s never met him, never heard of him.
“I don’t know who he is, where he is. I watch my back,” she said.
Barely into adulthood, Lillian said both her sons were looking forward to the future — David to marriage and children and Anthony a little more uncertain due to his health, but still a future.
“I’m not saying my boys were saints but they didn’t deserve to be murdered in their own home,” Lillian said, tears streaming down her face. “They deserve justice. I just want to know what happened.”
The arrest warrant for Jaramillo, who is also known as Isaac Hernandez, lists a last known address for him on Ranchero Road in Adelino.
According to the criminal complaint, some time after 11:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19, Tricia Linn went to the Lopez house, where she found the two brothers and a third man, later identified as Jaramillo, in the living room of the home.
Linn told investigators Anthony introduced the man as “Beast Mode.”
She and David went upstairs to sleep, leaving Anthony and Jaramillo in the living room playing pool. Linn said they were woken up by an argument between Jaramillo and Anthony, followed by what Linn said were gunshots inside the house.
Jaramillo called out to David, causing him to open the bedroom door. Linn claims Jaramillo began shooting, hitting David twice.
David slammed the door closed and grabbed his gun. Then Jaramillo kicked in the door and the two men began shooting at each other.
Linn was struck by one of the rounds and David fell on top of her, so she closed her eyes and remained still, fearful Jaramillo would kill her.
Linn waited for Jaramillo to leave the house, listening as he stole Anthony’s Jeep, before fleeing the house to find help. She flagged down a driver on High Mesa Road, who called 911.
The Jeep was found abandoned in the southwest part of Albuquerque on Tower Road on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Lillian Lopez has set up an GoFundMe campaign, gofundme.com/unpaid-funeral-and-burial-costs, to help finish paying for funeral and burial costs.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.