Suspect indicted in high-profile 1989 killing - Albuquerque Journal

Suspect indicted in high-profile 1989 killing

Kaitlyn Arquette

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The man who police say confessed to killing 18-year-old Kaitlyn Arquette in one of the city’s most high-profile homicides has been indicted in her death.

Paul Apodaca, 54, is being held in Lea County Correctional Facility on a probation violation.

He has also been charged in two other homicides from the late 1980s – the stabbing of 21-year-old Althea Oakeley in June 1988 and the shooting of 13-year-old Stella Gonzales in September 1988.

The cases had grown cold until Apodaca was picked up on a probation violation on the University of New Mexico campus over the summer. Police say he almost immediately confessed to the three homicides, three rapes and other attacks.

However, Apodaca’s defense attorney has said that his client was in need of medical attention and appeared intoxicated when he confessed.

In an emailed statement, attorney Nicholas Hart said the investigations had been incomplete and empty.

“So it is no surprise that another spurious indictment, followed by slanted and incorrect public statements, has been handed down,” Hart said. “We look forward to the opportunity to show the Court and a jury that Mr. Apodaca is not guilty of these allegations.”

In July of 1989, Arquette was driving home from a friend’s house when she was shot in the head on Lomas near Arno NE, just east of Downtown. Her car crashed into a lightpole. Arquette died the next day.

Paul Apodaca (Courtesy of New Mexico Corrections Department)

The case drew national attention as Arquette’s mother – author Lois Duncan who wrote the hit “I know what you did last summer” – worked tirelessly for answers until her death in 2016. She wrote the nonfiction book “Who Killed My Daughter?” which further drew attention to the case.

Two other young men were originally indicted in Arquette’s death, but the then-district attorney dismissed the case, without prejudice, because the evidence was insufficient to prove the matter beyond a reasonable doubt.

A private investigator hired by Arquette’s family said she discovered Apodaca was seen near where Arquette’s car crashed, although he was not initially a suspect. In the years after the shooting, Apodaca was convicted of raping a younger family member.

Prosecutors have asked that Apodaca be held in jail pending trial. He has already been charged in the killings of Oakeley and Gonzales, and is being held pending trial in those cases.

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