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‘Dateline’ to spotlight 2003 Las Cruces murder

Jayann and Dave Sepich sit with Josh Mankiewicz during “Dateline NBC.” (Courtesy of Dateline NBC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Dateline NBC” will revisit the 2003 rape and murder of New Mexico State University graduate student Katie Sepich.

The episode, titled “The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream,” airs at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.

According to NBC, the episode tells the story of two women who call 911 after hearing someone break into their apartment. Little do they know, their call for help holds the key to solving the mysterious murder of Sepich.

The two-hour broadcast features interviews with key players in the case, including Katie’s parents, Jayann and David Sepich, former Las Cruces police detective Mark Myers and retired Capt. Robert Jones.

Katie Sepich

NBC’s Josh Mankiewicz is doing the reporting.

In 2003, Katie Sepich, who was 22 and from Carlsbad, was last seen leaving a party for a two-block walk to her home on Las Cruces’ east side. Her body was discovered later that day, Aug. 31, 2003, at the city’s former dump.

Gabriel Avila was not identified as a suspect until mid-December 2006, when his DNA came up as a match to evidence collected from under Sepich’s fingernails and from her body.

Retired LCPD Captain Robert Jones in an episode of “Dateline NBC.” (Courtesy of Dateline NBC)

Avila subsequently confessed that he encountered Sepich as he drove and almost struck her with his truck as she walked home. Avila said he followed Sepich home and approached her as she tried to get into her rented house through a bedroom window. She had left her keys at the party.

Avila was sentenced to 69 years in prison in May 2007.

The case was the impetus for the state law requiring people arrested for certain felonies to provide DNA samples to authorities, known as Katie’s Law.

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