Killers of young dad still at large

Jaime Villareal, snowplow driver who was shot four years ago, left void in family

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/8/20

Jaime Villarreal's children still miss their father. Four years after Villarreal, 23, was killed in south Littleton, his killers are still at large. Villarreal left behind two children, now 5 and 6, …

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Killers of young dad still at large

Jaime Villareal, snowplow driver who was shot four years ago, left void in family

Posted

Jaime Villarreal's children still miss their father.

Four years after Villarreal, 23, was killed in south Littleton, his killers are still at large.

Villarreal left behind two children, now 5 and 6, said his girlfriend, Natasha Espinoza.

 “They still hurt when they see other kids with their dads,” Espinoza said. She is the mother of Leah, 5 and stepmother of Landon, 6. Both children are profoundly changed by their father’s death.

Leah was just shy of 2 when her dad was killed, Espinoza said, and she was devastated.

“She had such a bond with him,” Espinoza said. “After he died she used to sob herself to sleep begging for her dad.”

Villarreal was shot and killed during a carjacking while snowplowing a parking lot at 8122 Southpark Lane in the pre-dawn hours of March 18, 2016. Another man with Villarreal was shot but survived.

The truck Villarreal was driving was discovered burning at Broadway and Jamison Avenue a short time later.

The surviving victim described two assailants, men with thin builds, in their 20s, wearing all black. They may have been Latino.

They have never been found.

Espinoza said Villarreal's death destroyed her life plans. Villarreal had recently earned a commercial driver's license, and was working long hours so Espinoza could stay home with their daughter. Villarreal drove a truck for a hauling company, and did snowplowing jobs on the side.

“He worked so hard for us,” Espinoza said. “I had no plans to become a single mom. I had so much anger in me for such a long time after he was killed. I didn't want to be around anyone but my daughter.”

Espinoza said she forced herself to move forward. She bought a townhome in Thornton, and will soon be moving into a new-build house in Commerce City.

“It's been hard, but I had to be strong for my daughter. I had to keep my faith. I talk to Jaime out loud every day and ask him to show me the way, to help me do what I need to do.”

There have been few leads in the case, said Littleton Police spokesman. Cmdr. Trent Cooper.

“We followed up with everyone we can,” Cooper said. “We're still very motivated to solve this. Keeping it in people's minds is important. Even the smallest details someone can remember could be important.”

Espinoza said she longs for closure and justice.

“In order for his children, myself and his family to heal, we need to put faces to whoever did this,” Espinoza said. “I pray every day that my phone will ring and they'll tell me (the killers) were both caught.”

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