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APD Announces Murder Charge in 1988 Homicide of Althea Oakeley

Suspect Paul Apodaca Confessed to Killing Oakeley, possibly other Women in 1980s

Aug. 24, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE – Albuquerque Chief of Police Harold Medina announced the resolution of a 33-year-old cold case with a murder charge related to the 1988 homicide of Althea Oakeley.

 

APD produced a video about the cold case investigation.

 

Police worked with the District Attorney’s Office to charge Paul Raymond Apodaca, a 53-year-old convicted felon, with an open count of murder.

 

Oakeley, a native of Taos who was 21 at the time of her death, was attending the University of New Mexico.

 

APD investigated the case, but no suspects were identified. Chief Medina previously asked detectives in 2012 to look into Oakeley’s case when he became an APD Commander. Medina once again asked detectives to explore any new leads in the case in 2018 after he became deputy chief.

 

Apodaca was arrested by University of New Mexico police on July 20, 2021 for violating his probation. Upon his arrest, Apodaca told police he had committed several murders and rapes in the 1980s and 1990s. APD detectives later interviewed him.

 

“This arrest means a lot to me, personally, because I knew Althea and her family from Taos,” Chief Medina said. “I was only a teen-ager at the time, but I remember the impact her death had on our community. More than anything, I hope this arrest provides some closure for Althea’s parents and her brother. I will always think about them as we work to bring justice for victims of crime.”

 

APD Cold Case detectives have been investigating the murder of Oakeley, as well as other murder cases and a shooting since Apodaca made his confessions. Sex Crimes detectives have also been investigating his claims of raping women. Detectives are attempting to corroborate details provided by Apodaca about each crime, and verify whether any of those details were available to the public since the crimes occurred.

 

One rape has been tied to Apodaca because of Mayor Tim Keller’s efforts to clear a backlog of more than 5,000 sex assault kits that sat on evidence shelves for decades. The DNA in one of those kits returned a match on February 2021. APD was recently notified that the DNA matched the known DNA of Paul Apodaca.

 

“This just shows how important it is to test every rape kit in a timely way,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “We must clear every backlog in America, and never, ever let it happen again. Time is of the essence.”

 

Anyone with information about these cold cases or any other homicide being investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department are urged to call 505-768-2416.

 

 

Background

 

Victim:                        Althea Oakeley, 21

 

Date of Incident:       June 22, 1988

 

Summary of Incident:          Althea Oakeley was at a gathering at a fraternity house with her boyfriend on the University of New Mexico campus. Oakeley got upset and left on foot through the campus, heading south toward her residence that she shared with her brother. According to witnesses, Oakeley was heard screaming, and she was found stabbed outside a home at 1320 Buena Vista Drive S.E. Oakeley died from her wounds.