Suspect in cold-case murders now linked to 1990 rape case

Crime

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque man who confessed to two high-profile cold case murders is also linked to a rape case, long tied up in the rape kit backlog. Paul Apodaca was one of the first people in New Mexico who was ordered to register as a sex offender, so the city has had a copy of his DNA since 1995.

The rape the Albuquerque Police Department says Apodaca is connected to happened in the early ’90s, however, the rape kit sat untested in APD’s crime lab until last year. “It just so happened that his came up as a match before we even arrested him or knew anything about it. I think in February… it came back as a hit, as a CODIS hit, they submitted it. Then, the same week that he confessed… the sex crimes unit learned that it was a match to that same DNA,” said Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesperson with APD.

Last week, Apodaca confessed to the 1988 murder of UNM student Althea Oakeley and the 1989 murder of recent Highland High graduate Kaitlyn Arquette. APD says he did not know either of the young women adding the attacks were random and motivated by Apodaca’s hatred of women. APD says he also confessed to three-decades-old rapes in the ’80s and ’90s.

APD cleared their rape kit backlog last year but that was just step one. They then have to wait for results, enter the results into a massive, national database and APD’s spokesperson said Thursday, the results are then run against a very broad spectrum of DNA profiles, if there’s not a suspect in mind.

Even though Apodaca confessed to three rapes, his DNA has only been tied to one case. APD Chief Harold Medina says the victim in the case has been contacted but they are not releasing any more information on the case. “We’re being very methodical about this. We’re taking our time. We’re trying to verify information and we’re trying to gather everything we need to move forward with successful prosecution,” Medina said.

Medina says Apodaca did not know the names of the victims for the other rapes he confessed to and his DNA has not matched any other cases. APD says there are still running his DNA against more cold-case rapes. KRQE News 13 asked how long it normally takes detectives to be informed that one of their cases has a match, since this Apodaca match took about six months but did not hear back.

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