Confession emerges 32 years after infamous student murder »Albuquerque Journal

Kaitlyn Arquette, an 18-year-old honorary student, was shot and killed while driving near downtown in July 1989. Albuquerque police said on Tuesday that a suspect had confessed to Arquette’s murder. He was not charged, as police said they were still investigating. (Courtesy of Lois Duncan)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

There was a breakdown in one of Albuquerque’s most notorious unresolved cases.

Kaitlyn Arquette, the 18-year-old daughter of writer Lois Duncan, was shot and killed on her way home on Lomas east of downtown in July 1989.

Duncan, who wrote the thriller “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” pushed tirelessly for answers until his death in 2016 at the age of 82. She wrote the book “Who Killed My Daughter?” and he detailed his search for clues in the case.

Over the years, the theories have multiplied. Two men were arrested, but the case was ultimately dismissed. Some suspected that a so-called “Vietnamese mafia” running auto insurance scams was involved.

The matter is cooling down.

Then, at a press conference on Tuesday, Police Chief Harold Medina announced that the department had a suspect.

Medina said that when Paul Apodaca, now 53, was arrested by officers from the University of New Mexico in July, he confessed to various crimes.

One was the fatal stabbing of Althea Oakeley, a 21-year-old UNM student, who was walking home after a fraternity meeting in June 1988. Apodaca was charged with murder. in that case.

The other was Arquette’s fatal shooting. Police haven’t provided details of a third homicide they say they confessed, but they say it happened in 1988 after Oakeley’s death, but before Arquette’s.

Paul Apodaca

Apodaca has not been charged in the last two killings and police said they are still investigating.

“The Arquette case is one of the most infamous cold cases in Albuquerque history due to his mother’s high-profile books on the murder,” Medina said. “I can’t speak to the facts of the 1989 investigation, but I want to make sure the detectives investigate every aspect, check every piece of evidence, and make sure we have a strong case before we pursue the charges.”

Apodaca is in the Metropolitan Detention Center and prosecutors have requested that he be held until his trial.

His lawyer could not be reached for comment.

“They just let him go away”

On August 4, investigators reconstructed the scene where Kaitlyn Arquette’s car crashed after being shot in the head in July 1989. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

On July 16, 1989, Arquette was driving east on Lomas after having dinner with a friend in the old town when she was shot twice in the head. His red 1984 Ford Tempo drifted over traffic lanes and into a lamppost near Arno. Witnesses described seeing a gray Volkswagen Beetle near the scene. And in that car was Apodaca, then 21 years old.

Responding to questions about why detectives apparently did not suspect Apodaca at the time, Medina said he “can’t start trying to answer for detectives 33 years ago,” but to keep in mind this technology – and an officer’s access to police reports and databases – has since improved.

“I am sure the officers at the time did the best job and devoted their time to trying to resolve this matter,” Medina said. “It has not been resolved. And it would be unfair for us to criticize without knowing exactly what they were going through at the time.

Kerry Arquette, Kaitlyn’s older sister, however said that while she and her family are grateful to finally have a confession in the case, what they don’t have are answers to questions and explanations of what they believe to be the many mistakes made by APD. .

“It’s one of the things that breaks our hearts – this man was at the crime scene with the cops,” she said in a phone interview. “How obvious must it be to examine this guy?” They just let him go.

Kerry Arquette said that she and her family, and private investigator Pat Carristo had always believed that Apodaca had something to do with Kaitlyn’s homicide, but that he was never the subject of a thorough investigation.

Kerry Arquette said it will still be some time before her family feels a sense of closure as there are so many questions left.

“This admission is just the beginning,” she said. “The family has countless questions – the why and the how, and lots of blanks to fill in before we can sit back and think justice has been served. It has been too many years since we tried to fill these gaps on our own.

Earlier this month, detectives revisited the scene of Arquette’s death, recreating the circumstances in order to take photos and take action.

First registered sex offender

In October 1995, Apodaca became the first person convicted in Bernalillo County under a new law requiring sex offenders to register with the sheriff’s office.

He was found guilty of raping a member of his family and, upon sentencing, told the judge that he had done so in order to be with his younger brother in prison. His brother, Mark Apodaca, had been convicted – along with two friends – of the murder of a high school student in 1992.

Paul Apodaca was sentenced to 20 years, but was sent to a different institution from his brother’s.

Since then he has spent his time coming and going in prison and more recently he appeared to be homeless.

Kaitlyn Arquette’s family believe the damage to the left rear bumper and panel suggests her car was crashed into and pushed by Lomas into a utility pole. (Courtesy of Lois Duncan)

Medina said Apodaca confessed to committing three rapes during the same general period in which Oakeley and Arquette were killed. One of them, from 1993, had been stuck in the backlog of rape kits and had recently received a correspondence via the CODIS DNA database.

A spokeswoman for the 2nd Judicial District Prosecutor’s Office said prosecutors are reviewing the case and working with detectives to complete parts of the investigation.

“Once we have considered all the necessary reports and other details of the investigation, we will make the decision whether or not to prosecute,” said spokeswoman Lauren Rodriguez.

Mayor Tim Keller, who highlighted the backlog of rape kits when he was a state auditor, said the case reveals the importance of testing all DNA evidence.

“Our unit was able to look at that and relate the facts, and relate them to other cases,” Keller said. “And it just shows the importance of testing each kit in a timely manner, which of course we are doing now today and moving forward in our criminal lab in Albuquerque.”

“Victims of opportunity”

For Louella Oakeley, Althea Oakeley’s mother, learning of the name Apodaca last week again sparked all kinds of harsh emotions. She said the community of Arroyo Hondo, where she and her husband live, have showered them with phone calls, cards and flowers since the news broke up.

Althea Oakeley

At the time of Althea’s death, mother and daughter were studying to become teachers, but only Louella Oakeley was able to graduate.

She said that Althea was a beautiful girl – a descriptor she uses “not just because she was our daughter” – and very likeable.

“Ask anyone here in Taos and you’ll be told the same,” Louella Oakeley said in a phone interview. “For example, if she saw someone from Taos, she would run over there, give him a big hug and kiss him on the cheek, and ask him how they were doing. That’s just how she was.

Althea Oakeley was walking home to the mobile home she shared with her brother – who was 13 months younger – south of UNM when she was killed. According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court last week, Apodaca told investigators he was working as a security guard at the Technical Vocational Institute – now Central New Mexico Community College – when he saw Oakeley and started following her. . He said she smiled at him and then attacked her, according to the complaint.

Louella Oakeley said that following the death of her daughter, the family hired two detectives to work on the case. She said they found the police administration of the time very cold.

The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Althea Oakeley and Kaitlyn Arquette are different from each other and from Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock of the Criminal Investigation Division said that in both cases the victims appeared to have been chosen at random. He said the victim in the third case was also shot.

“They are victims of opportunity as no one else was there and they seemed to be alone,” he said.

Medina said investigators knew Apodaca had “an aversion to women.”

“This will be one of the motivators,” Medina said. “Can you really, really know exactly why someone is doing something so horrible?” But he had an aversion to women.

Now, as she prepares for the next trial, Louella Oakeley has said she is in turmoil thinking not only about the life of her own daughter who has been cut short, but also about the other families who have lost sentient beings. Dear.

“We are Catholics and our religion teaches us to forgive, but I don’t know this individual,” she said. “I just want him to pay for all the torment he has put us through… I want him to pay, not only for Althea’s murder, but for other individuals as well.”

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