Deputies responding to a 911 call on September 1, 2008, in Orange County, California, were shocked to find aspiring actress and model Jacqwelyn Villagomez on the brink of death. She was severely beaten and barely breathing when emergency services transported her to a nearby hospital. However, her injuries were too grave, and she was later declared dead at the hospital.
’48 Hours: Private Needham’s War’ chronicles the brutal murder and portrays how a disturbed mental state can tear apart even the best of relationships if kept unchecked. Let’s look into the details of the case and find out where the accused is at present, shall we?
Who Is Jacqwelyn Villagomez?
Just 19 at the time of her death, Jacqwelyn was in love with life and treasured happiness. Although she lost her mother at a young age, she had a really upbeat personality and was adored by her loved ones. An aspiring actress and model, Jacqwelyn even worked as a waitress for a bit and had a few modeling gigs on the side.
Deputies in Orange County, California, received a 911 call from a residence in San Clemente on September 1, 2008. Although the caller claimed that Jacqwelyn was the aggressor in an altercation, nothing could prepare the officers for what was to come. On reaching the address, authorities made their way inside to find Jacqwelyn’s brutally battered body lying on the floor.
Although she was still alive, Jacqwelyn was barely breathing and had injuries all over her body. A medical examination ascertained that she was severely beaten, and officers were quick to move her to a nearby hospital. However, the injuries proved fatal, and Jacqwelyn passed away, fighting for her life in the hospital.
Who Killed Jacqwelyn Villagomez?
When authorities reached the San Clemente house on September 1, 2008, they were shocked to find US army veteran, Pvt. John Needham, standing naked and covered in blood at the door. He appeared pretty hostile, and authorities had to subdue him using a taser before moving inside. Once they found Jacqwelyn with severe injuries inside, they put two and two together and gathered that John might be responsible for the crime. Hence, Pvt. John Needham was arrested on the spot.
Jacqwelyn’s death turned the case into a homicide, and the police knew they had to gather further evidence to build a case against John. Through their investigation, they found out that John Needham had spent 11 months in Iraq and was involved in some of the most intense moments of the war. Although he was a decorated soldier, the fighting left him disillusioned, and the show mentioned that he even tried to take his own life.
That act was viewed as threatening to his fellow soldiers, and thus, John was held in isolation inside the army barracks for months before his father managed to get him back to the United States. He received an honorable discharge and partial disability in 2008. Reports state that John and Jacqwelyn had known each other for just two months before the murder.
Later in 2009, John even said that although they both had their issues and were “broken,” they were helping each other become the best versions of themselves. However, the show mentioned that John was not in a proper mental state, which often brought unnecessary altercations in their relationship. Once things reached a boiling point, John’s father decided to intervene and asked Jacqwelyn to leave John’s life.
Although she reluctantly agreed and was preparing to leave, John’s ex-girlfriend, Renee Stoner, entered his life, leading to an altercation between both women. Reports state that John broke up the fight and sent Renee away, who promptly called 911 and reported Jacqwelyn as the aggressor. However, by the time authorities responded to the call, Jacqwelyn was brutally beaten and left barely alive.
Is John Needham Dead or Alive?
John Needham passed away in February 2010. He was out on bail and awaiting trial for Jacqwelyn’s murder around that time. The army veteran took this time to recover at his mother’s house in Sahuarita, Arizona, and was being treated for the injuries he received in the war. Reports even mention that he recently had surgery at a hospital in Tucson and was being cared for at home. Surprisingly, in a sudden turn of events, John passed away on February 19, 2010, after his mother found him unconscious but could not resuscitate him. Although various reports claim that he died of a drug overdose, this has never been corroborated, and the cause of death has never been revealed.