A woman’s return to the scene of the crime led to her arrest when her suspicious activities alerted in-store’s asset protection team, who contacted police. That’s according to interim Edgewood police chief, Sgt. David Lovato.
Jessica Campbell now faces federal arson charges arising from several fires set inside the Edgewood Walmart in November 2021.
Lovato said that when officers arrived, Walmart employees pointed out the vehicle Campbell was in. A man, Manuel Lara, jumped into the car, which headed up N.M. 344, he said.
Edgewood police located the vehicle in the East Mountain Grill parking lot, and were looking around the area as “citizens pointed them into the restaurant, and then to the restroom.” Lara was detained at that time, Lovato said.
Employees were keeping an eye on Campbell in the store because she had “about $1,400 worth of items loaded into a shopping cart, not your usual activity for day-to-day shoppers,” Lovato said.
When police put the pair’s names into the system, “they both came back with active warrants,” Lovato said, including the federal arson warrant.
“Ms. Campbell was actually the primary suspect,” Lovato said of the arson, adding, “This closes the books as far as anybody that’s still at large, or she was the last person that we were looking for. We’ve been monitoring her for some time, she actually left the state for awhile, then came right back and decided to have a visit with us.”
Lovato took over as interim chief after former chief Darrell Sanchez’ retirement last month. Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, took over the investigation shortly after the fires were set because the fires were commercial arson.
ATF worked with federal Marshals and Edgewood Police on the investigation.
The fires shut the store down temporarily as repairs and clean-up were carried out, opening in December.
Walmart said it had kept all 318 employees at work during the closure.