ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When a man came forward last year admitting to raping and killing women in the late 1980s, Albuquerque Police went back to each case file to make sure he was telling the truth. They now believe they’ve got the confession of a serial killer.

In at least one of the murders, the self-proclaimed killer was right under investigators’ noses. Paul Apodaca, now in his 50s, told detectives he hung around one of the crime scenes in 1989 and spoke to an officer.

“I’m gonna let you just talk and tell me what happened,” an Albuquerque Police detective told Apodaca on July 23, 2021. Three days after 53-year-old Apodaca told investigators he’d raped and killed women in the late 1980s, APD homicide detectives went to the Metro Detention Center to talk to him again.

“I thought I would pursue her,” Apodaca recalled following what he claims is his first murder victim. “My intention was just to take her at knifepoint to rape her,” he said.

This time he spoke in more detail. Drawing diagrams, naming streets, Apodaca walked investigators through his crimes step by step. His first murder victim, he claims, was 21-year-old Althea Oakely, a woman he intended to rape.

“She smiled at me”

“What happened was that I was sitting there and when she walked up, she smiled at me,” said Apodaca in tears. “She said, ‘Hi,’ and she smiled at me.”

“That’s the worst part,” Apodaca added. “How do you hurt someone that smiles at you?” He looked at the two detectives who sat there in silence, listening to his story.

In June of 1988, during his Security Aide shift at the Technical Vocational Institute, or TVI, which is now CNM, Apodaca said he spotted Oakeley walking and attacked her.

“She told me, ‘I don’t have any money.’ She said, ‘I don’t have any money,'” Apodaca recalled.

Apodaca said he attacked Oakeley from behind and attacked her. He said he stabbed her multiple times with a swiss army knife. “I didn’t think my short little knife would be able to do that much damage,” he told detectives.

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He said he left his watch at the crime scene before running away. When asked why he took off his watch, Apodaca replied, “I anticipated there would be a struggle.”

But, he said Oakeley didn’t have time to defend herself. “There was no physical altercation, she didn’t really have time to try to defend herself,” Apodaca said.

Apodaca said he went back to work to finish his security shift. When he got home that night, he said he saw a sketch of the stabbing suspect on the news.

He described his younger self, then in his early 20s, as medium build, a 165 lb. man. “I don’t know if it resembled me or not,” Apodaca recalled.

He said he learned Oakeley died that night on the news. “I used to think that as long as I never killed anybody, that was the ultimate sin,” said Apodaca. “Everything else was OK.”

“Once I did that, it seemed like nothing mattered anymore,” Apodaca said. He said he read reports that Oakeley’s boyfriend declined to take her to a movie that night, so she walked home from a party.

“I thought to myself, all I had to do was ask her to go to a movie, perhaps,” Apodaca recalled.

His motivation

Apodaca explained he was motivated by jealousy of other men and hatred for women. “Growing up, I saw men treating women bad and they go for the bad guys,” said Apodaca. “And I try and be nice and be good and they just didn’t want that, so I was jealous, and … had hatred.”

“Every once in a while when that anger would rise again, I’d go out just drive around with a rifle like a – like a hunter,” Apodaca told investigators. “Not a hunter, an animal.”

Stella Gonzales, 13, was his next victim in September of 1988, he said. Apodaca said he took aim at two girls crossing the bridge on Central late at night. Gonzales was killed.

A couple of weeks later, he said he shot a transgender man who he thought was a woman and served jail time. That man survived.

“I lied to the police and told him that he had fooled me,” said Apodaca.

Another shooting

He also described shooting another woman in the face on the west side while they were both driving. Apodaca said he saw news reports that she too had survived.

Apodaca then described another case. In the summer of 1989, he said “I’d been driving around the whole city with a rifle, just looking for a target of opportunity.”

He said he was driving his orange Volkswagen when he pulled up next to Kaitlyn Arquette, an 18-year-old UNM student, at a red light on Lomas.

“I had raised the rifle, and I shot at her,” Apodaca recalled. He said he watched her red car cross the median and crash into a light pole. Then, he parked his VW and walked up to her. “I began to go see what condition she was in,” he added.

Police questioned him in high-profile murder case

“A vehicle had pulled up in front of me and an officer came and asked what had happened,” said Apodaca. “And I told him that I had seen the car there and that I was going to investigate.”

Apodaca said the officer took down his information, his name, phone number, and license plate. “He took my name and number, and then I drove away.” He told investigators he gave the officer his correct information at the time.

Weeks later, Apodaca said a female APD detective paid him a home visit and asked about the murder.

In 1995, Apodaca was sentenced to 20 years for raping a young family member. He said he had another visit while he was in prison, an investigator asking questions about Arquette’s murder.

She was a private detective hired by Kaitlyn’s mother while in prison, he said he read the book, ‘Who killed my daughter?’ Written by Arquette’s mom, Lois Duncan. He said he checked out the book from the prison library.

“I thought it was a woman desperately trying to figure out why somebody had done that to her daughter,” said Apodaca.

“I spent the last year in jail just crying and crying over all the things I’ve done,” said Apodaca. He told detectives he’s tired and wanted to come clean.

“It’s not so much about relieving myself of that as it is to bring closure to the people I’ve harmed,” said Apodaca.

APD told KRQE News 13 detectives recently spoke to the woman Apodaca claims he shot in the face. Detectives said the statute of limitations has run out in that case.

Apodaca claims he only told one person about his secret crimes, his mother when she was visiting him in prison years ago. His mom died before he came forward to police.