A suspect has been charged in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old woman earlier this year at an apartment complex in Southeast Albuquerque.
Elena Ornelas, 26, is charged with an open count of murder in the Jan. 21 death of Sadie Hill. An online obituary said Hill lived most her life in Springfield, New Hampshire, but spent the last few years in Albuquerque.
A warrant has been issued for Ornelas’ arrest.
At the time of the shooting Ornelas was on pretrial release in two cases — allegedly shooting a woman in the shoulder in December and being found in a stolen vehicle with multiple guns months earlier.
Prosecutors filed a motion to detain Ornelas in the December shooting case until trial but a judge denied the motion, saying the charging document “fails to provide any supportive facts” tying Ornelas to the shooting.
The initial complaint filed in Metropolitan Court does not lay out any evidence tying Ornelas to the shooting, aside from her being at a nearby bus stop. An amended complaint filed a day later had more details, alleging Ornelas wore similar clothing to the shooter and told police she was attacked but did not shoot a gun.
It appears the judge was provided only the initial complaint and ruled it “wholly insufficient” to support the shooting charge, releasing Ornelas on pretrial conditions on Jan. 5.
By Jan. 20, according to court records, a warrant was issued for Ornelas when she didn’t report to pretrial services and “her whereabouts are unknown.”
A day later police responded to a shooting in the 7900 block of Bell SE and found Hill shot to death outside an apartment, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. Multiple witnesses told police they either heard Ornelas was responsible or were there when she shot Hill.
Police said those who frequented the complex told them Ornelas used fentanyl, had shot several other women and was “not right in the head.”
A witness told police of being in the apartment with Hill and Ornelas, who was “very twitchy” and said she hadn’t slept in a week.
The witness said the women got into an argument before Hill pointed a pipe at Ornelas and said she “was going to shoot her,” according to the complaint. The witness told police Ornelas shot Hill and then asked “what she should do.”
At least one other witness corroborated the person’s account of the shooting and the pair both identified Ornelas as the shooter from a booking photo.
In a news conference days after the homicide, police highlighted Ornelas as one of several people wanted as part of a “crackdown” on those with felony warrants.
She was not yet considered a suspect in Hill’s death.
“Detectives are actively searching for Ornelas,” Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in a release Thursday.