A Taos woman was caught by surprise recently when a clerical error put her on Taos’ most wanted fugitives list.
Ashley Romero, 23, said she learned Dec. 22 that a warrant was issued for her arrest in connection with domestic violence charges that included beating a police officer.
The problem was, Romero had no idea what the Eighth Judicial District Court was talking about. Fearing arrest, Romero went immediately to the Taos Public Defender’s Office in the hopes of getting the matter resolved.
“I didn’t know what to do. I wondered, should I hide?” Romero said. “It really makes you look over your shoulder.”
Romero’s rap sheet for prior offenses was mistakenly provided to the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, who was after a different Ashley Romero who hadn’t shown up for her hearings.
“I didn’t compare the information to the police report,” deputy district attorney Jeff McElroy told The Taos News in a voicemail. “But we caught it right away and of course we regret making the mistake.”
While Romero’s birth date and Social Security number were corrected on the court’s paperwork, nobody told Taos County Crime Stoppers, who had posted Romero’s photo on its most wanted fugitives page Jan. 4.
“I was in Walmart and one of my co-workers said, ‘You’re on Crime Stoppers.’ We thought he was joking, but then I went home and checked,” Romero said.
Crime Stoppers was alerted to the error and immediately removed Romero’s picture, also posting an explanation on its website.
Now that the ordeal is over, Romero’s mother, Shelly Outman, says it’s OK to joke. “Ashley told me, ‘I’m surprised nobody turned me in!’ ”
While it was getting sort of uncomfortable walking around town for a while, Romero says she’s happy to get back to normal.
“I just hope it doesn’t come back up,” Romero said.