ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 30 years since young women were inexplicably killed in Albuquerque, a middle-aged man came forward in a bombshell confession to Albuquerque police. And in newly released footage, KRQE Investigative Reporter Gabrielle Burkhart obtained the alleged killer’s chilling confession to detectives. A warning: the details he shares are disturbing.

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“It’s taken me so long to know how much pain I’ve caused,” Paul Apodaca told an Albuquerque police detective in July of 2021. “And these women perhaps didn’t understand that.”

This moment last July was the moment detectives, and victims’ families had been waiting for decades. “After years and years of contemplating and searching, I understand all the pain that I’ve caused and I feel it. For families…the people that I’ve murdered and raped.”

Lapel video shows a female Albuquerque police homicide detective who didn’t immediately realize she was interviewing a possible serial killer. “I came here with the understanding that you had information on some homicides, but I did not know that you were talking about yourself,” the detective said.

Apodaca, now in his 50s, had just been picked up by the University of New Mexico police. Homeless and possibly suffering from heatstroke, he wanted to talk to the police. “I’m gonna read you your constitutional rights,” the detective said.

Apodaca went on to confess to three unsolved murders. “I murdered Kaitlyn Arquette, and Althea Oakeley,” he told the detective. “And a girl that was crossing the bridge on Central.”

His first murder victim

In June of 1988, 21-year-old UNM student, Althea Oakeley was walking home from a party when she was attacked by a man with a knife in southeast Albuquerque, stabbed multiple times before her assailant ran off. Apodaca said he learned on the news later that night that Oakeley had died. He said Oakeley was his first murder victim. “When she died it seemed like nothing else mattered,” said Apodaca. “I just kept doing it again because it was like I couldn’t not do any more harm.”

Apodaca worked as a security aide at Technical Vocational Institute, or TVI at the time, which is now CNM. He said he saw Oakeley walking, and followed her with the intention of raping her. “That’s what I had in mind,” Apodaca recalled. Aside from a sketch and witness accounts of a man who took off, police didn’t have much, and the case went cold.

Then in September of 1988, 13-year-old Stella Gonzales was shot and killed. At the time of his confession, Apodaca described the killing but didn’t know the victim’s name.

“What did she look like?” The detective asked. “I couldn’t tell at that range,” he replied.

“How did you kill her?” The detective followed up. “I shot her,” he answered.

Decades-old cold case

The following summer, July 16, 1989, 18-year-old UNM student Kaitlyn Arquette, was shot to death as she was driving home on Lomas near Broadway. “I shot her on Lomas and Broadway,” said Apodaca. “She continued to drive forward until she lost consciousness and hit the telephone pole,” he recalled.

Arquette’s murder was one of the most high-profile cold cases in the city over the years. Arquette’s mom, Lois Duncan, the author of the book, ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ also wrote the book, ‘Who Killed My Daughter?’ Apodaca told the detective he read that book.

“That’s a lot of years to carry that around,” a detective told Apodaca, asking if there’s anything that made him come forward now. “It’s a shame that it’s taken so much to bring me to this point,” said Apodaca.

Apodaca also confessed to raping other women. He was sentenced to 20 years in 1995 for raping a young family member. And since his release, he says he’s struggled to come forward about these crimes.

“Why did you do it?” A detective asked. “I had anger in my heart against women,” Apodaca replied. “Resentment. Hate.”

“Why?” The detective followed up. “Because I’ve always seen men treat women bad, and they have all the women, and I tried to be nice and they never appreciated it.”

He said his actions motivated by hate were “evil and dark,” and referred to the “word of God” in his struggle to accept punishment.

“God is forgiving,” said Apodaca. “I’ve come to realize that I don’t deserve to be forgiven,” he added.

That same day, homicide detectives took a DNA sample from Apodaca, then researched old case files, returned to the crime scenes, and worked to make sure he was telling the truth. Tomorrow night, KRQE Investigates brings you part two of what APD is calling a “miracle” confession from a serial killer.