AUSTIN (KXAN) — The body of an Austin woman police say was murdered at a hotel room went unnoticed for three days even as hotel workers cleaned the room and police searched the room. It wasn’t until police say the woman’s boyfriend told police to “look under the mattress” that police found the woman’s body.
Jaime Jerome Wingwood, 40, is charged with two second-degree felonies of tampering with a corpse and aggravated assault in the death of San Juana Macias, who was reported missing July 7. He has not been charged with murder, but in the arrest affidavit police say he confessed to killing her.
Macias’ body was found July 9 in a room at the Roadway Inn and Suites located at 1601 East Highway 290. Police say they found her wrapped in a fitted bed sheet inside the bed.
“The bed frame was constructed in a manner that created a box on the top of which the box spring and mattress sat on,” police said in the arrest affidavit. “Under the box spring and mattress was a void created by the frame of the box and is where the victim was located.”
Macias’ 26-year-old daughter, who lived with her, reported her missing on July 7 and told police she and her family hadn’t heard from her for three days. She also told police her mother’s phone was switched off, which was unusual for Macias.
“(Macias’ daughter) specifically implicated Macias boyfriend as being involved and stated that he has ‘almost left her for dead’ in the recent past that was never reported to law enforcement,” officials said.
The same day that Macias was reported missing, Wingwood’s sister called police and reported that she believed her brother had killed his girlfriend.
She showed police a text message from her brother that read, “I love you always. Im fixing to be gone for forever. I really f—– up this time. Im leaving town. Right now.”
Alarmed by the message, Wingwood’s sister told police she called him and he allegedly told her he’d “killed her,” which she believed referenced Macias.
Police put an alert out for Wingwood’s car and on July 8, authorities in Jefferson County notified APD Missing Persons Detectives that they were chasing it.
The pursuit lasted over an hour through Beaumont, Orange County and into Louisiana where Louisiana State Police apprehended Wingwood and arrested him on unrelated felony charges related to the pursuit. The next day, Austin officers traveled to Louisiana to question Wingwood.
During questioning, police say Wingwood confessed to killing Macias at the hotel and leaving her body there. Hotel staff had done a routine cleaning of the room prior to police arriving. Police searched the hotel room but did not find Macias’ body.
Officers continued to interrogate Wingwood, but he maintained he never moved Macias’ body, which surveillance footage seemed to corroborate.
Upon further questioning, police say Wingwood whispered to one of the detectives that officers needed to “look under the mattress in the ‘box.'”
Police believe Macias was beaten to death with an iron from the room. Her head and face showed signs of trauma, and the custodian had previously told police a fitted sheet and blanket and an iron were missing from the room. Officials are still waiting for a ruling on Macias’ manner and cause of death from the Travis County Medical examiner.
“Several wooden slats had also been moved aside away from the body and several screws were located under the victim,” officials wrote.
Later a bloody iron was found among Wingwood’s possessions when he was taken into custody in Louisiana. Police say Wingwood threw that bag out the window of his vehicle during the police chase.
Wingwood is in jail on a $500,000 bail. Austin police say he has not yet been extradited to Travis County and remains in custody in Louisiana.
A GoFundMe page set up to cover Macias’ funeral expenses raised just under $1,600 of its $5,000 as of Friday afternoon. The person who created the page says they created it on behalf of Macias’ six children.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, you can get help by visiting the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or calling 1-800-799-7233.