Suspected car thieves lead police on chase from Vail into Moffat County
Along the way, suspects allegedly sideswiped an unmarked Colorado State Patrol vehicle, attempted a carjacking near Rifle, and fired two shots out of stolen vehicle’s window
Two suspects believed to be driving a car reported stolen in Summit County led the Colorado State Patrol on a more than 100-mile car chase Monday morning, spanning multiple jurisdictions from the town of Vail into Moffat County, where they were taken into custody.
Police allege that along the way, the suspects attempted to carjack someone near the town of Rifle, and that the passenger in the stolen vehicle at one point reached out his window and fired two rounds from a handgun.
Patricia Rae Stead-Pacheco, 31, of Denver, and Jose Munoz-Jara, 19, are both in custody in the Moffat County Detention Facility.
Stead-Pacheco and Munoz-Jara — the latter originally identified as Elijah Santibanez by Colorado State Patrol based on a Texas driver’s license he presented — were advised of the preliminary charges they are facing Tuesday afternoon in Moffat County Court.
The two face preliminary charges of reckless vehicular eluding and possession of a controlled substance in Moffat County. More charges are expected to be filed against them in other jurisdictions.
Judge Nicholas Catanzarite set each of their bonds at $100,000, as requested by Matthew Tjosvold, a deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District, which includes Grand, Moffat and Routt counties.
“As you may have been able to glean from the arrest affidavit, there are more serious charges that will be pending in the 9th Judicial District,” Tjosvold told the judge. The 9th Judicial District includes Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.
The chase reportedly originated in Eagle County, after Vail Police spotted a silver 2002 Volkswagen Golf reported stolen in Summit County earlier Monday morning. An officer attempted to stop the vehicle, but shut down his lights as the vehicle sped away.
Colorado State Patrol then located and followed the vehicle in Eagle and Garfield counties, reportedly monitoring the vehicle and following from a distance.
Troopers attempted to stop the vehicle as it exited I-70 at milepost 94, where it sideswiped an unmarked Colorado State Patrol vehicle and headed north into the town of Rifle. Troopers did not pursue the vehicle further at that time, but the two suspects are believed to be part of an attempted carjacking reported near the town of Rifle before they continued northbound on Colorado 13, according to a Colorado State Patrol news release.
State troopers spotted the vehicle again south of Meeker, heading north in Rio Blanco County. The vehicle eluded stop sticks at the intersection of state highways 13 and 64 and continued north.
“I pursued the vehicle north through Rio Blanco County where at one point north of Meeker the passenger reached out his window and discharged two rounds from a handgun,” Trooper T.A. Dieterich states in an arrest affidavit filed Tuesday. “The vehicle was fleeing into Moffat County at speeds in excess of 90 mph in a mountainous 65 mph zone, often times traveling in the opposing lanes of traffic, posing a hazard to southbound traffic,” the affidavit states.
Troopers and the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office successfully deployed spike strips near milepost 85 on state highway 13 in Moffat County, deflating three of the vehicle’s four tires, when the vehicle slowed and pulled off the roadway. Stead-Pacheco and Munoz-Jara were then taken into custody without incident.
According to the arrest affidavit, Stead-Pacheco’s purse held multiple plastic baggies with white residue she claimed was methamphetamine. Munoz, while he was being booked into the jail, and after he was warned about carrying in contraband, was found to have a folded dollar bill containing a brown powder, which Stead-Pacheco reportedly said was methamphetamine she had spilled Kool-Aid on.
Public defenders requested significantly lower bond amounts for Munoz-Jara and Stead-Pacheco. They noted that the arrest affidavit did not make clear which of them is believed to have been the passenger — at one point identifying each of them as the passenger — and argued that the bond should not reflect future criminal charges that may or may not be filed against them.
Tjosvold told Judge Catanzarite that both suspects pose an “extreme flight risk.” Munoz-Jara has criminal charges in Adams County for identity theft, motor vehicle theft and hit and run, and failed to appear for a Sept. 30 court hearing there, Tjosvold said.
Stead-Pacheco has a criminal history in Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota, including felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a financial device, Tjosvold said, adding that she has an open criminal case in Minnesota and is wanted in Nebraska.
After Tuesday’s advisement in Moffat County Court, prosecutors in that county have three days to file formal charges against Stead-Pacheco and Munoz-Jara.
Steve Mallory, a deputy district attorney for the 9th Judicial District, said prosecutors there will also be pursuing charges against Stead-Pacheco and Munoz-Jara, though they were not available Tuesday evening.
It’s not yet clear if Stead-Pacheco and Munoz-Jara are suspected of any recent vehicle thefts in the Eagle County area. More than a dozen cars were reported stolen in October and November.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jacob Best told the Vail Daily that a driver fitting Stead-Pacheco’s profile was described by witnesses in other car thefts in the area, and that the early-morning time of the vehicle theft in Summit County is also consistent with past car thefts. The suspects in those past thefts in Eagle County also fled at high speeds when officers attempted to stop them.
Vail Police Commander Ryan Kenney said the department has no stolen car cases that these individuals are suspected of being involved in.
Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said it’s too soon to say if Stead-Pacheco or Munoz-Jara were involved in any recent car thefts in that town. “Too soon to say for sure, but as there is a similar modus operandi, they will be persons of interest in our ongoing investigation for possible involvement in recent vehicle thefts in the Avon area,” he said.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.