ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was an emotional night for the friends and family of Laura and Santa Hanish. More than 100 people gathered at Hyder Park to remember the mother and daughter who were murdered in their Nob Hill home last week.
One woman said she met 19-year-old Shanta at Highland Pool where she worked and where the teen taught her to swim.
“She will always have a special place in my heart. We were working on getting me across the pool, and I’m committed to making it across the pool for Shanta, so there will always be a little Shanta in Sharon,” Sharon Perrilliat-Drewes said.
Shanta and Laura were found stabbed to death in their home near Coal and Girard on Friday morning. Detectives quickly narrowed their search to Shanta’s ex-boyfriend, Jesus Cartagena.
Shanta’s friends told police she had recently ended their five-year relationship and that the 20-year-old wasn’t handling the break-up well. They said Cartagena would wait outside her home for hours at a time, was constantly texting and calling, and would even follow her to her job.
Friends who knew the couple since high school say they were shocked when they learned Cartagena was the suspect.
“He just wanted the best for everyone, and we don’t feel that shining him in this light as being a terrible person will help anybody in the long run. We just hope to get something good out of this,” Jose Soto said.
Shanta was studying education at UNM and Laura was a social worker at the Public Defender’s Office and was set to retire after working there for 24 years.
Everyone who came out Wednesday night had the opportunity to write messages on cards that will go back to the family.
Cartagena was arrested in El Paso but is now back in Albuquerque and is being held at the MDC infirmary.