ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police have identified Paul Apodaca as the suspect in the death of a University of New Mexico student who was stabbed near campus more than 30 years ago. The parents of Althea Oakeley established a scholarship in her name after she was killed while walking home from a fraternity party on June 22, 1988. She was stabbed four times and collapsed on a neighbor’s doorstep, later dying at the hospital, police said.
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The suspect remained a mystery for decades until police recently interviewed a man in another matter who confessed to killing a young woman in the 1980s near the university in Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina was among those who delivered the news to Oakeley’s parents in Taos. The meeting was emotional and bittersweet, he said.
Oakeley once was in the running for Taos Fiesta queen, and Medina’s mother was fashioning the girl’s elaborate dress. Medina remembered the girl with the bubbly personality who always said “Hi” to him.
The police chief also was the first recipient of the scholarship named for Oakeley after he graduated from Taos High School in 1990.
“It’s tough because it’s reopening old wounds,” Medina said. “But at the same time, there’s also that fear like, ‘God, we got to get a conviction on this.’”
Police were scheduled to provide more details on the case and the suspect on what would have been Oakeley’s 55th birthday Thursday. But authorities postponed a news conference after three Albuquerque officers were shot and another was injured while responding to a robbery.
Medina told the Journal that Oakeley didn’t know her attacker, but he lived and worked in the area. He’s in custody in an unrelated matter. Oakeley’s parents didn’t respond to messages left by the Albuquerque Journal.