Suspected N.M. Serial Killer Indicted in 1989 Murder of Author's Daughter

Paul Apodaca, 54, was indicted for three murders, including the shooting death of Kaitlyn Arquette, daughter of thriller writer Lois Duncan

Paul Apodaca
Paul Apodaca. Photo: Albuquerque Police Department

In the late 1980s, young women in Albuquerque feared for their lives when a series of chilling murders swept the city.

University of New Mexico student Althea Oakley, 21, was stabbed to death in June 1988 while walking home from an on-campus party, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.

Months later, on Sept. 9, 1988, 13-year-old Stella Gonzales was shot and killed while she walked near Tingley Beach with a friend.

The violent killings stopped until 1989, when Kaitlyn Arquette was fatally shot in the head while driving in downtown Albuquerque.

After years of wondering who killed the three women, police finally got a break in July 2021 when UNM police arrested 54-year-old Paul Apodaca on a probation violation, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

While he was in custody, police said, he confessed to killing the three young women and raping numerous other women, KOB reported.

Apodaca was homeless when he was arrested and told police about his deep hatred for women, KRQE reports. He was convicted previously in 1995 of raping his 14-year-old stepsister, KRQE reported.

In August, a grand jury indicted Apodaca for Oakley's murder and then in December for Gonzalez's slaying.

On Monday, he was indicted for Arquette's death, which drew attention after her mother, I Know What You Did Last Summer author Lois Duncan, worked tirelessly to find her daughter's killer, hiring a private investigator and penning the non-fiction book, Who Killed My Daughter?

"When Paul Apodaca shot my sister, he murdered my family," Kaitlyn's sister Kerry Arquette told KRQE in August 2021.

Kerry Arquette, who went on to become a criminologist because of her sister's murder, told KRQE her mother fought for justice for Kaitlyn until her death in 2016.

"She is here, and she is looking down," Kerry Arquette told KRQE about her mother.

Police said Apodaca had been on authorities' radar for a while and had information only the killer would know, KOAT reported.

"Paul Apodaca is a serial killer in our view and he picked his victims seemingly at random, but they all shared one trait: They were women," APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock said.

"They were women in vulnerable circumstances at the time who were seemingly alone, and that was his only reason, opportunity and his own perceived hatred of females at the time," Hartsock said.

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Apodaca has yet to be officially charged for Arquette's murder.

His attorney, Nicholas Hart, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, but he told the Albuquerque Journal that his client seemed intoxicated and in need of medical attention when he confessed to the murders.

"We look forward to the opportunity to show the Court and a jury that Mr. Apodaca is not guilty of these allegations," Hart told the Albuquerque Journal in an email.

Apodaca remains held in the Lea County Correctional Facility.

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