Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

A murder suspect was convicted this week for killing a woman and leaving her in a vehicle in Santa Ana. He had fled to Mexico but later turned himself in to authorities at the border and was sent back to Orange County to stand trial.

On Monday, October 26, 2020, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Santa Ana Police Officers responded to the 600 block of W. Russell Street regarding a report of an unconscious female in a vehicle.

Natalia Gamino Jaimes
Natalia Gamino Jaimes

Upon arrival, officers located an adult female deceased inside a parked vehicle. The preliminary field investigation revealed that the decedent, later identified as Natalia Gamino Jaimes (57), had been reported missing from the City of Lake Forest on October 22, 2020.

met while working as janitors and stayed in touch after they got jobs elsewhere. The two got into a conflict when the victim’s daughter, Alejandra Gamino, went to pick up her son at school but found out the defendant had already done so. Jaimes told Jimenez to stop picking up the boy at school and called him a “philanderer” in a text message.

Jimenez repeatedly called her on the phone, but she ignored most of the calls. Jimez then came to the victim’s townhome and said it was a “misunderstanding.” The last (Gamino) saw her mom alive was in the garage with the defendant.

Gamino hired a private investigator, who tracked down where the victim’s car was parked in Santa Ana. While she was in the neighborhood putting up “missing” posters, she spotted her mother’s Honda Civic and called police, who found the victim’s body inside, set back in a reclined seat so it was not easily seen from the street. Surveillance video showed a man covering his face with his shirt and parking the car on Russell Street.

Gamino did not recognize the suspect in the black-and-white footage, but a video in color was more recognizable. She recognized that the suspect was wearing the same clothes Jimenez was wearing when she saw him in their garage and noticed he had the same gait.

Detectives were able to contact Jimenez by phone.  He admitted that he choked Jaimes for 10 minutes in the garage in Lake Forest.

Evidence of broken nails, blood on the victim’s hand and clumps of her hair in the car show Jaimes fought for her life. She suffered fractured cartilage in her neck.

Homicide Detectives responded to the scene and assumed the investigation. The Orange County Coroner’s Office also responded and ruled the death a homicide.


After an extensive investigation, Homicide Detectives identified the suspect as Jose Valdez Jimenez (58). Detectives served multiple search warrants and attempted to locate Jose; however, he had fled the country. Despite evading capture, detectives maintained communication with Jose via telephone.

In January 2021, during a recorded telephone conversation with a detective, Jose confessed to the murder of Natalia by strangulation. He admitted to driving her body to the City of Santa Ana and leaving her in a parked vehicle. As a result, detectives started the extradition process with U.S. and Mexican authorities.

On May 26, 2021, Jose again telephoned the detective and informed him he was at the Mexican border and was prepared to turn himself in. He was taken into custody without incident and subsequently charged with murder.

On May 15, 2024, Jose stood trial in Orange County Superior Court and was convicted by jury of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced at a future court hearing.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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