EL PASO, TX (KRQE) – A 20-year old man is behind bars tonight, suspected of murdering a mother and her daughter. They were found dead in their Nob Hill home, and police say the man charged is the daughter’s ex-boyfriend.
“Police expected right away that there were tension and problems the younger victim and her ex-boyfriend,” says Gilbert Gallegos with the Albuquerque Police Dept.
Police say Jesus Cartagena and Shanta Hanish, a University of New Mexico student, had been dating for about five years before they broke up two weeks ago.
“Right away that pointed to a possible domestic violence or some sort of crime of passion that prompted this,” says Gallegos.
Police say the couple lived at an apartment complex near Coal and Washington for about a year. Shanta recently moved back in with her mom Laura, a long time employee with the Public Defender’s Office, following the break up.
According to the criminal complaint, Cartagena would follow Shanta to work at the Highland Pool and leave notes on her car saying, “I love you very much.”
At one point, police say Cartagena called Shanta 20-30 times and sent the same text message over and over, that read, “Shanta, please.” Those close to him told officers his behavior became alarming.
“There was a break up involved and he was exhibiting a lot of tendencies that were very concerning, not just to the victim’s family and friends, but to his own family,” Gallegos says.
Police say Cartagena has family near El Paso and saw Shanta’s car entering Mexico through border patrol cameras. Shortly after, he turned himself in to El Paso Police admitting he broke into the Hanish’s Nob Hill home through the window. He said he, “hurt someone really badly.”
On Friday, Laura’s co-workers had gone to the home to check on her after she didn’t show up to work. They found the women’s bodies on the ground inside.
“He self admitted that he did something terrible when he was in Albuquerque, and was still extremely distraught like he told relatives here,” Gallegos says.
Just four days before the murders, police say he was checked out for suicidal thoughts at a local hospital. Shanta’s friend, Ryan King, told KRQE News 13 on the phone today she was shocked to hear about Cartagena’s involvement because she always thought he was a sweet kid.
“It took awhile to set in. For someone that you’ve known for this long, it’s kind of surreal in a way,” King told KRQE News 13 yesterday afternoon.
Police say the Hanish’s died from multiple stab wounds. They say a large knife was found near their bodies.