On September 28, 2014 at 2214 hours a call came through to suburban Athol, Massachusetts Police Department. The caller reported after a weekend away from home, that his legally owned handgun had been stolen in a break-in. Officer Scott Dubrule was dispatched to the address and spoke to the owner who’s name has been redacted from sources. The owner stated he left on a Friday, September 26, and returned Sunday the 28th. The owner of the house reported necklaces, assorted DVD’S , and 400$ in cash missing in addition to his 40. caliber handgun with the serial number HAB2291. The officer noted that the front door was left unlocked, being that Athol is a very safe, sleepy town, and it was not uncommon for people to leave their doors unlocked while home or vacationing.
Jorge Zambrano, future cop killer’s criminal history began way back in 1998 when he was just 17 years old. Zambrano was released on November 1, 2013 from Massachusetts roughest prison: Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center. Baranowski has housed the states most dangerous inmates for decades. Most famously, Patriots Tight End and spree killer Aaron Hernandez who was found hung in his cell on April 19, 2017. The prison is known for prisoner uprising and harsh conditions. It lays out over 1,000 maximum security inmates on sprawling acreage in largely rural Shirley , Massachusetts. One can ascertain years down the line, Zambrano might have thought about his Shirley experience when faced with going back to prison again, or killing. We will never know.
The Worcester Police knew Jorge Zambrano well. So well that when the Worcester Police Vice Squad, working surveillance on a known drug den saw Zambrano leaving in a Chevy Avalanche, they knew they had at the very least an unlicensed driver. Zambrano’s license had been suspended for years, and all the whole of the Worcester PD were well acquainted with that fact. A marked unit followed the truck and activated it’s emergency lights. Zambrano led the police through a high speed chase in three different towns before police terminated the pursuit in the town of Acton some 33 miles away. When authorities finally found the Avalanche abandoned, they found drugs in a pipe, but no sign of Zambrano. The date on this incident was May 14, 2015 some 2 years after Zambrano got out of Maximum security at Shirley. Worcester PD served the warrant on the drug den, netting crack cocaine, weapons, and drug packaging equipment.
The following Wednesday, Worcester PD filed a criminal complaint in court to arrest Zambrano for evading the police and leaving the scene of an accident after hitting a vehicle during the pursuit. Zambrano was first on the docket for the August 4, 2015 arraignment, and he missed the call. Zambrano did appear much later that day stating: I was never notified about these matters. Nothing was sent to me saying that I had court or anything. This just came out of – out of nowhere right here” The prosecutor did not request bail, and apparently a felon, running from police and leaving the scene of an accident did not warrant detention as Zambrano was allowed to walk right back out of the courthouse and back to the streets of Worcester.
On January 24, 2016 Zambrano was slumped across the steering wheel after crashing into an embankment. Zambrano’s vehicle had heavy front end damage and was out in the opposite side of traffic. When officer’s arrived the asked Zambrano who could not talk much if he needed an ambulance, the officer’s noted in their report that Zambrano could only make ”gurgling sounds” When attempting to remove Zambrano from the vehicle, Zambrano went on the offense, pulling the officer by his uniform top into the vehicle and face to face with Zambrano’s Pit Bull Dog; Gage. The officer fearing for his safety pulled Zambrano from the vehicle. Zambrano again resisted, and refused to put his hands behind his back. Eventually the officer’s subdued Zambrano enough to cuff him and place him in the back of the patrol vehicle. The officers noted Zambrano stated: ” i will remember you” ”I am going to find you” and ” You are lucky these cuffs are on” Zambrano was arrested for assault on a police officer, released on personal recognizance and given a notice to appear a few days later. The Pit Bull was taken by animal control and later picked up by Zambrano’s girlfriend : Worcester native Heather Phillip.
In the court date just days later, Zambrano was represented by Attorney Anthony Scola. Amazingly yet again, the prosecutor waived bail, and Zambrano was not deemed dangerous enough to be deemed detention worthy. The case was put off until a pre-trial hearing on March 14, 2016.
Which brings us to February 10, 2016. A motorist on I-495 called the Leominster, Mass Police Department to notify them that she saw a vehicle driving in the breakdown lane, a woman exited the vehicle to run towards a man who was walking on the highway talking on a cell phone. When the woman reached the man, he struck her in the face and she fell to the ground. In the State Police report, when the trooper arrived he advised that a White sedan was in the breakdown lane and a man was walking up the exit ramp in a snow storm. When the trooper reached Zambrano he appeared disheveled, wearing a backpack and fumbling with a cell phone. Zambrano ignored 3 orders from the trooper to stop and provide identification. Eventually, Zambrano noted his name was ”Jose” and told the trooper to look him up ”You know my cousin Luis” Despite orders to the contrary Zambrano would not keep his hands out of pockets, and would not make eye contact. When Zambrano’s cell phone began ringing, the trooper ordered Zambrano not to answer it anyway, when Zambrano answered the phone, the trooper began to cuff Zambrano, Zambrano screamed ”I am not going back” And a struggle ensued. An off duty Lieutenant who saw the struggle while driving by stopped to assist at this point and Zambrano was still defying orders. Zambrano was sprayed 3 times with Sabre Red Crossfire Spray and was eventually subdued. During transport, the troopers noted that Zambrano had a ”Temper tantrum” and stated ”I could have taken all your guns” Zambrano stated how ”Strong he was” Also, in a moment of self reflection stated ”I hate what my name has become” Troopers states Zambrano was transported to Leominster State Police Barracks, where his eyes were washed out, and he began to stretch and exercise when locked in his cell.
When police interviewed Heather Phillip, Zambrano’s live-in girlfriend, and the woman in the vehicle in which he allegedly struck, they noticed a fresh scratch on her nose. Phillip indicated their pet Pit Bull had scratched her face, and they merely ran out of gas and no altercation took place. Phillip declined to return to the State Police barracks.
When Zambrano’s backpack was searched in the Leominster barracks, the police found two large knives including one that was regularly used to pop car doors due to it’s curved blade. Police also found a Massachusetts Drivers License and bank card in the name of Robert Jachimczyk. Jachimczyk reported his vehicle stolen to Worcester PD almost two years prior. Zambrano was arrested and booked in on resisting arrest, assault and battery on a family member, trespassing, disorderly conduct (third charge) Zambrano did not post the 3,000$ bail. Zambrano appeared the next day in Clinton District court on the charges. The prosecutor filed a motion to deny the bail and detain Zambrano till his next court date. Citing Zambrano’s history the prosecutor stated: ”If you look at Mr .Zambrano’s record almost every case involves assault on a police officer” Instead of revoking bail and locking Zambrano away until his next court date. Judge Andrew Mandell set the cash bail at 500$ stating ”You better behave, if a police officer wants to talk to you, you listen up”
The 500$ bail was paid by the alleged victim Heath Phillip, and Zambrano was again a free man. A man who threatened to kill police officers, who had 3 assault and battery on a police officer charges, was on his way home with his Pit Bull and stripper girlfriend.
On Thursday March 31st, 2016 Zambrano was back in court facing charges on the case where he lead officer on a 3 town high speed chase. The Judge asked Zambrano if he ever had a license to drive in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Zambrano replied ”Never in my life, horrible choice” Zambrano was ordered to undergo a risk/needs evaluation and placed him on probation for one year. On the way out the door the judge advised Zambrano to ”Be careful” to which Zambrano replied: ”Im Trying” Zambrano obviously was not trying too hard, as he was 25 minutes late for his first probation appointment. His probation officer advised Zambrano of his new probation ordered drug testing schedule. Zambrano stated he has a ”Hard time with supervision” and ”He would rather do time then abide by the probation parameters” His probation officer advised him to talk to his attorney if that was the case and schedule another meeting for April 8, 2016.
Zambrano had a drug screen and a probation meeting on April 8, 2016. He showed for neither. Amazingly his probation officer allowed him to reschedule the meeting for Monday, April 11th. Knowing his criminal history, the Probation department simply rescheduled his drug test for the following Monday. 830 AM came and went on Monday, Zambrano finally showed at 9:00 AM and his probation officer advised him about the expectations of probation. Also on this appointment Zambrano tested positive for cocaine and suboxone. Zambrano confessed he used cocaine the prior week, but he was not defaulted, nor arrested. Zambrano also missed his April 22 probation appointment leaving a voice mail citing an asthma attack. Zambrano did report the next day at 4:15pm and confessed to more cocaine use. Zambrano was given a a notice of probation violation and was told to report the following Monday at 11:00 am .
That Monday, Zambrano again tested positive for cocaine and negative for alcohol. Zambrano was made aware of his probation violation and mailed a copy of the notice. On May 11th Zambrano was back in court on the violation. No attempts to detain Zambrano was made, he had violated his probation twice, and was not detained. Zambrano was able to walk right out of the court room on that day with no penalty, even with the knowledge that his probation officer deemed him a ”High risk to re-offend during probation”
Just 5 days after Zambrano walked free again on violation, A Massachusetts State Police trooper noticed an Acura driving with a plate that was registered to a Nissan. Zambrano who again, never had a Massachusetts license, was arrested for driving on a suspended license. Zambrano appeared and court, and you guessed it, no bail was set and Zambrano was not detained.
8 days before the killing Zambrano was again a no show for his probation visit. Showing up the next day, his probation officer wrote ”He seems to be trying, but struggling” On that day Zambrano, somewhat surprisingly, tested negative for all substances.
5 days later Ron Tarantino would pull over Zambrano in an Infinity SUV.
Stay Tuned for Part 3: The Killing