Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
They met over Snapchat.
He didn’t know her real name and just called her “beautiful.”
When he picked her up for the first time, she had so many questions: Where did he keep his money? Did he have any guns? She told him she liked his diamond-encrusted chain.
Then, three men showed up and kidnapped 20-year-old Nicholas Otero at gunpoint. He was eventually able to escape but not before his brother, who balked at a $1,000 ransom, was fatally shot.
Now the woman, 18-year-old Anna Bella Dukes, and the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Adrian Avila, are charged in the Feb. 11 death of Elias Otero, 24, a former corrections officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Authorities say the pair had carjacked someone the night before in the same fashion, a romantic invite over Snapchat, and used the car for the plot that led to Elias Otero’s death.
Avila and Dukes are each facing an open count of murder, kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and conspiracy charges.
An arrest warrant has been filed for the two and detectives are working to identify two others involved in the case.
Alicia Otero, the slain man’s mother, said knowing charges have been filed has “definitely helped.”
“I just couldn’t live knowing my son is no longer here and they were out there living their lives,” she said. “… Really, that bothered me.”
Otero said Elias was a protector for the family and had proposed to his girlfriend months before his death. She had been looking forward to seeing him get married.
“He was just an all around good kid – he’s never even gotten a parking ticket – this happening to him was just such a shock,” she said.
Months later, Otero considers how she could’ve lost more than one child that night.
“I think about that all the time,” she said.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court:
Officers responded around 2:20 a.m. to the 450 block of Timothy SW, near Central and 98th, after a woman reported her brother had been shot. Police found Elias Otero lying in the street and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
There were three pistols and a rifle on the ground near his body and police found his brother’s car wrecked a couple of blocks away. Relatives told police armed men showed up with the brother and shot Elias Otero when he came out with a gun.
Nicholas Otero was able to dive out of the car afterward and get away. The suspects escaped on foot and in a second car that was carjacked the night before.
Nicholas Otero told police it started when he picked up a girl he met on Snapchat and she asked him to take her to Alvarado Park. He said he “became uneasy” after she asked where he kept his money, if he had any guns and told him she liked his bejeweled necklace.
He noticed she had her phone on a call and someone was listening in before three armed men pulled behind them in another car. Otero told police they took him from the car and two of the men searched the car as a third held a gun to his head, begging the others to let him shoot Otero.
He said the men forced him into his car and drove both cars to the home where Elias Otero lived with their other brother. Otero told police they had him tell Elias Otero to bring $1,000 and a gun out to them or they would kill his brother.
He said his two brothers came out of the house and Elias Otero pointed a gun at the driver and the driver shot him multiple times.
Detectives discovered the Snapchat account belonged to Dukes and pinged her phone, tracing it from the area of Alvarado Park to the homicide and, eventually, the home of Avila. Police discovered the same movements when they pinged Avila’s phone.
On Dukes’ Snapchat, detectives also found messages between her and another man she allegedly carjacked on Feb. 10. They found messages between her and Avila talking about the robbery in the hours beforehand.
The man who was carjacked in that case told police he had been set up by a woman he met over Snapchat before two men robbed him at Alvarado Park. Detectives believe the same car was used to kidnap Otero the next night and it was found abandoned the morning after south of the Sunport.
Inside they found a .40 caliber bullet, other ammunition and a mask.