ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 30 years after two high-profile, unsolved murder cases Albuquerque Police have charged a man who’s allegedly confessed to the killings and three rape cases. APD named Paul Apodaca Thursday as a suspect that police say has confessed to the murder of Althea Oakeley and Kaitlyn Arquette.
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So far, Apodaca, 53, has only been charged with the murder of Althea Oakeley. That case unfolded more than 33-years ago, around 9 p.m. on June 22, 1988. APD says 22-year old Althea Oakeley was stabbed to death near a home in the neighborhood on Buena Vista SE, east of the University Stadium parking lot near the intersection of Avenida Cesar Chavez and Yale.
Police documents from 1988 indicate Oakeley ran to a nearby home after screaming for help. Neighbors saw a 22 to 24 year old man running away from the area. Investigators later determined Oakeley was attacked as she was walking home. Before the attack, Oakeley had left a fraternity house north of the UNM campus following a disagreement with her boyfriend.
According to a criminal complaint, on July 21, 2021, the suspect Paul Apodaca confessed to killing Oakeley while he was detained by UNM Police. Apodaca later told an APD detective that he was a security aide at the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (now known as CNM community college) when he saw Oakeley walking by. The complaint against Apodaca states he told police “his ‘intention’ was to rape (Oakeley) but he stabbed her to death.” Apodaca and Oakeley didn’t know each other.
Apodaca told APD it was “shame” that took him so long to confess to the crime and “realized what he had done was evil and dark.” According to a criminal complaint, “(Apodaca) said the word of God has help him overcome this struggle.”
At Tuesday’s news conference, APD Chief Harold Medina indicated that Apodaca had a “dislike for women,” when asked what police believe was the motive behind Oakeley’s murder. According the criminal complaint in the case, Apodaca told investigators when he thought about what made him do it, he said, “what made me attack her was all the hatred that I had for women.”
Kaitlyn Arquette murder case
APD says Apodaca has also confessed to being responsible for the 1989 murder of Kaitlyn Arquette. An 18-year-old, Arquette was shot to death on Lomas near Arno, just east of Broadway on July 16, 1989.
“The Arquette case is one of the most infamous cold cases in Albuquerque history because of her mother’s high-profile books about the murder,” Chief Medina said Tuesday. “I can’t speak for the facts of the investigation in 1989, but I want to be sure detectives are investigating every single aspect, verifying every piece of evidence and ensuring that we have a strong case before we move forward on charges on the Arquette case.”
It’s unclear when Apodaca could be charged in the Arquette case. APD hasn’t revealed any other details about the confession Apodaca is said to have made. Chief Medina says APD has been in contact with the Arquette family, which continues to maintain an extensive website about the case and the subsequent investigation.
“It’s hard to share a lot of information, even with the family until the case is charged, even if it’s 32-33 years old,” said Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of APD’s Criminal Investigations Division. “As we’re moving around and wanting to interview people again, we try to not have someone else get to them first, but (the family is) definitely aware of it, they know of the updates, they know this case is being charged first.”
Witnesses said Apodaca was said to be one of the first people on the scene of the murder shortly after it happened but was reportedly never questioned by police. KRQE News 13 asked APD Tuesday why that occurred.
“I can’t begin to try to answer for detectives 33 years ago, but I hope that we keep in mind that 33-years ago, technology was a whole lot different than it is today,” Chief Medina said. “It wasn’t as easy to pull police reports, a lot of times back in those days, police reports were handwritten, they were turned in to a homicide investigative unit lead and sometimes those reports stayed there and it wasn’t until way later that they were reviewed.”
Medina also said, “I’m sure that the officers at the time did the very best job and dedicated their time to try to solve this case and it didn’t get solved. It’d be unfair for us to criticize without knowing exactly what they were going through at the time.”
Apodaca is also said to have confessed to involvement in three different rape cases. APD believes it has verified at least one of the cases so far, but hasn’t released any further details, pending investigation.
Albuquerque Police was originally slated to discuss Apodaca’s cases in further detail last Thursday. However, the department canceled its original presentation following the shooting near Juan Tabo and Lomas that resulted in the injury of four police officers.