Julia Clark Downs and Karl Jürisson


Cell phone pings, security cameras, social media posts and snitches led to the arrest of a 20-year-old in the killing of Karl Jürisson on Father’s Day, June 2021. Jürisson was gunned down in the driveway of his partner’s house south of the University of New Mexico on Vassar SE near Garfield SE. His partner, Julia Clark Downs, was out of town. Clark Downs said at the time that Jurisson would stop by to check on the house while she was away. Jürisson was a respected aerospace engineer who worked on the James Webb Space Telescope among other projects.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the Albuquerque Police Department, Felix Vigil, John Kasi, both 18 at the time, and at least one other person were cruising around the Southeast area in a borrowed car when one of them had to urinate so they pulled over near the house. Vigil jumped out with a gun and approached Jürisson who had just walked out of the house and was sitting in his Toyota Prius. Jürisson, 64, got out of his car, which was parked on the street in front of the house, and engaged with Vigil, pushing him away towards the front of the car. The witness said he saw a young, thin, Hispanic male extend his arms and the older male fell to the ground. The complaint says that Vigil shot him twice before running away and getting in a dark green, four-door sedan with several distinct characteristics. 

Piecing It Together

An eyewitness account and video surveillance footage from the house, from neighborhood and traffic cameras gave detectives some assistance in tracking the car. Detectives enhanced some video footage and traced a car matching the make and model to a tow yard. It had been towed from a nearby motel the morning after the murder. They were able to see that there were at least three people in the car near the house and around the time of the murder. They found the owner who had lent the car to a friend, who had lent the car to his son. and that is when the finger pointing began among Vigil, Kasi, Trenton Trimmer and a young female who were all hanging out in motel rooms together. Vigil and Kasi could not resist posting photos of themselves on social media. The criminal complaint shows SnapChat photos of the two in what appears to be a motel bathroom posing with guns four days before the murder. 

Finally, nearly two months later on August 16, Vigil was picked up for being in a vehicle that had been reported carjacked at gunpoint. His booking forms show a tattoo saying World Full of Sin. Vigil was arrested again less than a month later on Sept. 13 for yet another armed robbery. 

Kasi was in custody shortly after for an unrelated arrest and told police he was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. He says he stopped to urinate when Vigil jumped out of the car without saying anything, ran to the victim’s vehicle, then back into the car telling Kasi to “go,go, go.” Kasi said he believed Trimmer to be the owner of the car and said he was with them at the time of the shooting. Cell phone records show Vigil’s and Kasi’s phones using cell phone towers in the area near the time of the shooting. Police did an eyewitness scene reconstruction to measure the height differences to determine who could be the shooter.

Vigil is being charged with an open count of murder and armed robbery and is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center. No one else has been charged or is in custody as of press time.

Heartbreaking Aftermath

Clark Downs did not live to see this arrest. She was an assistant district attorney in Taos County when she was killed in a freak car accident in Taos four months after Jürisson was murdered. Frank McAleer, 74, was driving at a high rate of speed when he rear ended Clark Downs as she was attempting to make a left hand turn, presumably to pick up her dog at a pet day care. Clark Downs had moved to Taos after the brutal murder of Jürisson. She and Jürisson were avid skiers who frequented Taos Ski Valley. Clark Downs had worked for the Pueblo of Isleta, the Valencia County District Attorney’s office and as a legal consultant for the popular TV series “Better Call Saul.” McAleer is set for trial in February but a plea is expected.