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APD charges woman for January homicide in SE Albuquerque

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Suspect was featured by APD as a dangerous, wanted fugitive who violated pre-trial detention conditions


ALBUQUERQUE – APD Homicide detectives identified and charged Elena Ornelas, 26, with the Jan. 21, 2023, murder of Sadie Hill at a Southeast apartment complex. Detectives are actively searching for Ornelas.


The homicide took place just 9 days before APD held a news conference that featured several wanted suspects, including Ornelas, as part of crackdown on people with felony warrants. Ornelas was wanted at the time for shooting another woman in the shoulder on Dec. 28, 2022. She was initially arrested for that shooting, but she was released from jail pending trial. She later violated her conditions of release, and a warrant was issued on Jan. 20, 2023, for her arrest.


Police were aware of the December 2022 shooting and warrant, but did not know at the time of the Jan. 30 news conference that Ornelas allegedly murdered someone on Jan. 21, 2023. Homicide detectives did learn of the identity of Ornelas until March 4, 2023, when a concerned citizen said they discovered Ornelas’ last name when they saw her picture on the warrants list that APD publicized through the news media.


“This is exactly why we are emphasizing felony warrants and asking the Legislature for money to help get these suspects into custody,” APD Chief said. “If we want to make an impact on crime, help us with overtime so all police agencies and sheriff’s departments can crack down on warrants.”


Homicide detectives determined Ornelas and Hill, 24, were in an apartment at 7900 Bell Ave., S.E. with others on the night of Jan. 21, 2023. Witnesses said both women were known to use illegal narcotics and Hill was smoking Fentanyl that night.


Ornelas and Hill got into a confrontation as they walked out of the apartment. Witnesses said they were yelling at each other. One witness said Hill threatened to kill Ornelas and was pointing foil and a pipe at Ornelas. The witnesses said Ornelas fatally shot Hill.