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Denver woman held for investigation of first-degree murder after shooting, crash

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 08:11:33-04

DENVER — A 27-year-old woman is being held for investigation of first-degree murder after police found a person with a gunshot wound in a crashed car early Saturday.

Jenny Nguyen, 27, was arrested Saturday and is being held for investigation of first-degree murder for a homicide that occurred early Saturday near E. 54th Avenue and Yampa Street.

On April 25 around 12:10 a.m., the Denver Combined Communications Center received multiple 911 calls from residents saying they heard multiple gunshots followed by a car crash near E. 54th Avenue and Yampa Street.

When Denver police and paramedics arrived at the scene, they found a white Ford Fusion that had crashed in a field off 54th Avenue and Yampa. Inside the car, they found one male victim. He was slumped over from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s seat. Police determined the vehicle had rolled and the person had been thrown around inside the vehicle. He also had a possible gunshot wound to the neck, according to an arrest warrant.

Paramedics transported the person to Denver Health Medical Center, and he was pronounced dead at 2:32 a.m. On Monday afternoon, he was identified as Jamal Thompson, 26. The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner said the cause of death was a gunshot wound and the manner of death was homicide.

Police taped off the area and began an investigation.

When officers removed Thompson from the vehicle, they also found a Colorado driver’s license issued to a woman named Jenny My Ngoc Nguyen in the front passenger seat. When police checked their records, they discovered Thompson and Nguyen had been involved in at least two domestic violence incidents that required a police response in 2019, according to an arrest warrant.

A detective found bloodstains throughout the interior of the vehicle and a fired bullet on the front passenger seat, as well as five fired 9mm cartridges farther up the street near a home, according to an arrest warrant. The detective noticed that the home had several surveillance cameras, including one that pointed toward where the cartridges were found.

Denver police began a neighborhood survey. At one home, a resident immediately asked if police were going to ask about a white car. The resident said he was standing outside of his parked car on E. 54th Avenue about 20 or 30 minutes before the shots were fired when a white vehicle sped up to where he was standing and stopped. According to the arrest warrant, an Asian female got out of the driver’s door and started yelling about where her boyfriend was. She got back into the car and parked it on the street before walking into a nearby home.

When police showed the driver’s license to the resident, he confirmed it was the same woman he had seen that day.

Around 5:45 a.m., the Denver Medical Examiner confirmed that the injuries to Thompson’s neck appeared to be gunshot wounds. At that time, a detective called Thompson’s mother to notify her of her son’s death. When the detective mentioned the location of the death, the mother said her son was likely at his girlfriend’s home. She also identified the girlfriend as Jenny Nguyen and said that she lives near E. 54th Avenue and Tower Road, according to an arrest warrant.

The mother told detectives that her son and Nguyen had broken up and recently gotten back together, and he was staying with her at the time. She said that while Nguyen wanted to stay in a relationship with Thompson, Nguyen wanted to continue a relationship with another person too.

At 10:15 a.m. that same day, the Denver County Court Judge approved a search warrant for Nguyen’s home. The search warrant was executed at 11:05 a.m., along with members of the Denver Police SWAT team.

Nguyen walked outside the back door and was escorted away from the house. She was transported a few blocks away while the home was searched, according to an arrest warrant. Nobody else was in the home at the time.

Around 11:25 a.m., Nguyen agreed to be taken to police headquarters for an interview. That interview was conducted about an hour later, but details of that conversation were redacted.

According to the arrest warrant, at one point, a detective asked her about her involvement in Thompson’s death and Nguyen lowered her head, closed her eyes, started to cry and stopped answering questions.

The same detective later spoke with Det. Lou Estrada, who was in charge of searching Nguyen’s home. He said he’d found several boxes of 9mm ammunition and a manufacturer’s new gun box, but not the pistol, according to the arrest warrant. He also found a fired 9mm cartridge in the home, though it did not match those found on the street near the crash. Estrada said he later found a disassembled Sig Sauer 9mm pistol hidden in the heating vent of the master bedroom. The barrel was missing, but the serial number was on the slide.

A forensic imaging specialist with the Denver Police Crime Lab said he viewed surveillance footage captured by the security system at Nguyen’s home, but the recordings around the time of the shooting were not found, according to the arrest warrant. He said this was consistent with somebody deleting recordings during the time of the crime.

Later that same day, a forensic pathologist conducted an autopsy on Thompson. She said she noticed powder stippling — which is partially burned and unburned gunpowder particles expelled from a pistol during discharge — on his left hand, the left side of his face and chin. If the muzzle is close enough to the victim, and without a barrier blocking it, the powder stippling will be present, police said.

Based on this investigation, authorities believe Nguyen had been arguing with Thompson at E. 54th Avenue near her home, where the fired cartridges were located. The gunshot wound evidence points to the fact that Thompson was shot from within an arm’s length.

Nguyen was arrested on Saturday evening and is being held for investigation of first-degree murder. She had not been formally charged as of Monday morning.