Real Name: Kaitlyn Clare Arquette
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Date: July 16, 1989
Details: Eighteen-year-old Kaitlyn Arquette was the daughter of acclaimed mystery writer Lois Duncan. She graduated from high school on June 14, 1989, and had been accepted to the University of New Mexico. She planned to attend medical school one day. Shortly after graduation, she moved into an apartment with her boyfriend, Dung Ngoc Nguyen. They paid for it with the help of money that they had received from an insurance settlement. He was eight years older than her, but she had told her parents that he was only four years older. However, they felt that he was a nice person.
Six weeks later, on the afternoon of July 16, Kaitlyn told Lois that she and Dung had been having problems ever since they moved in together. She planned on breaking up with him and wanted Lois to lie about her whereabouts. She visited a friend from 9:30 to 10:45pm. She then headed east on Lomas Road, towards Lois' house. When she reached an intersection, another car pulled up next to her and one of its occupants shot her twice in the head. Her car then drifted and crashed into a light pole.
Shortly before midnight, Lois learned that Kaitlyn was in the emergency room. She initially thought that she had been in a car accident. After reaching the hospital, her parents learned that she had been shot. Five hours later, the police arrived at her apartment. Dung was home alone, apparently unaware of the shooting. He told them that he had been out with friends, doing various activities. On a table, an investigator found a note that Kaitlyn had written to him, telling him that he would be home at a certain time.
Dung told investigators that he argued with her, but was unaware that she may have wanted him to leave. Later, he joined her parents at the hospital. Tragically, she passed away from her injuries twenty-four hours later. Six months after her murder, investigators announced that she had been the victim of a "random act of violence". However, Lois does not believe this; through her own investigation, she believes that she has found evidence that Kaitlyn had known her killer.
Lois believes that Kaitlyn was killed by a hired assassin because she knew too much about Dung's criminal activities, which included staging accidents. Two months before her murder, the couple took a trip to Southern California. During this time, she apparently became involved in a lucrative car insurance scam. Her sister learned that Dung had staged an accident a few months earlier. He had used a car that Kaitlyn had rented with Lois' credit card.
The accident was allegedly orchestrated by an organization comprised of powerful members of Southern California's Vietnamese community. Everyone involved in it complained of soft tissue injuries that were later treated by a doctor who was also involved in the organization. A paralegal working out of an Orange County law office handled the insurance claim. Kaitlyn and Dung were given $1500 for their part. They used the money for their apartment. Lois believes that, since she was breaking up with Dung, the other gang members feared that she would go to the police. She believes that they had her silenced.
A few weeks after the murder, Lois discovered that three phone calls had been made from Kaitlyn's apartment had virtually the same time she died. At the time, Dung was with them. The calls were made to a Vietnamese paralegal that worked in Orange County. This was the same one that had set up the accidents.
A private investigator hired by Lois spoke to Kaitlyn's landlord. He believed that she was afraid of Dung's friends who were apparently involved in the criminal activities. They only spoke Vietnamese around her and often made fun of her. They were often a center of the couple's arguments.
The investigator also compared the note allegedly left by Kaitlyn on the night of her murder to known samples of her handwriting. He did not believe that it was written by her. The landlord also claimed that three of Dung's friends were in their apartment on the night of July 17, around the time that she died.
However, the Albuquerque police did not believe that Dung and the Vietnamese gang were involved in her murder. They believe that her murder was a random act of violence. Six months after the murder, an informant led police to a man named Robert Garcia. He was interrogated for two hours before telling investigators that he had been in a car with three friends on the night of Kaitlyn's murder. He claimed that one of them shot a woman in her car on a dare.
Based on Robert's testimony, police arrested Dennis Martinez, Juvenal Escobedo, and Miguel Garcia, who is not related to Robert. According to Robert, Miguel was the trigger-man. Police discovered that Juvenal had recently sold his car, a brown Chevrolet Camaro. They connected it to an eyewitness, who claimed that he had seen one chasing a young woman in her car on the night of Kaitlyn's murder. This occurred an hour before it.
However, the case fell apart when it was discovered that Robert had been in jail on the night of Kaitlyn's murder. Ultimately, in April 1991, charges against all three suspects were dropped due to lack of evidence.
As the result of pressure from Kaitlyn's family, investigators decided to re-interview Dung. This time, he did admit to being involved in an auto insurance scam. However, neither he nor his friends were ever charged in relation to the scam. Also, police do not consider him a suspect in Kaitlyn's murder. Her family is convinced that her murder was not a random act of violence. They are certain that she was silenced because of her knowledge of the insurance scam and other illegal activities.
Suspects: Lois believes that Kaitlyn was killed by members of a Vietnamese gang that her boyfriend Dung was involved with. She believes that Kaitlyn was killed because the two were breaking up and the gang members may have been afraid that she would go to the police about their illegal activities. Police do not believe that Dung was involved, however. Interestingly, on the night of the shooting, he allegedly called one of their friends and said "Kait's dead! They killed her." However, he was not notified by police about the shooting until a few hours later. Five days after her death, he attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the stomach.
Albuquerque police, however, believe that Kaitlyn was the victim of a random act of violence. Six months after her murder, an informant led the Albuquerque police to a man named Robert Garcia. He identified three men, Dennis Martinez, Juvenal Escobedo, and Miguel Garcia, as being involved in her murder. He claimed that he was in the car with them when they shot her. They were arrested and were charged with her murder. However, the charges were later dropped after it was discovered that Robert was in jail at the time.
- This case first aired on the January 27, 1993 episode.
- Lois wrote a book about it, titled Who Killed My Daughter?. In 2013, she wrote a sequel to it, titled One to the Wolves: On the Trail of a Killer.
- It was also featured on Good Morning America and Larry King Live.
Results: Unresolved. Lois's private investigator, Pat Caristo, later discovered that a man named Paul Apodaca was found standing next to Kaitlyn's car when police arrived at the scene. He was driving a primer-gray Volkswagen Beetle. His information was taken down, but he was allowed to leave. The police did not run his name and he was never interviewed about the case. Lois was shocked to learn that he had an extensive criminal history, with multiple convictions for attacking and/or robbing women. A few years after Kaitlyn's murder, he was convicted of raping his fourteen-year-old stepsister. He allegedly did this so that he could be in prison together with his brother, who was serving time for murder.
Caristo also discovered that Kaitlyn's car had been hit by at least one vehicle before it crashed into the light pole, as evidenced by the damage to the left rear bumper and side panel. It is not known why the police did not release this information. Lois suspected that the police department was involved in a cover-up involving the case.
In 2003, a cold case squad investigating the case determined that Kaitlyn had been shot after her car collided with the light pole. This was based on the accuracy of the shots, which suggested that they were fired at a close range and a non-moving target.
In July 2021, Apodaca confessed to police that he murdered Kaitlyn and two other women. One victim was twenty-one-year-old Althea Oakeley, who was attacked and stabbed to death in 1989 as she walked home from a party near the University of New Mexico. The other victim's name has not been released yet. He also confessed to several rapes that took place in the early 1990s. It was discovered that he had been working as a security guard on campus at the time of Althea's murder. In August, he was arrested and charged with her murder. He has not yet been charged in Kaitlyn's case; however, police have stated that they plan to file more charges against him in the future.
Sadly, Lois passed away at the age of eighty-two on June 15, 2016, without seeing the case solved.
- Kaitlyn Arquette on Unsolved.com
- Kaitlyn Arquette Website
- Lois Duncan Page about Kaitlyn Facebook
- Teen-age Driver Dies After Random Shooting - July 19, 1989
- Gray VW Sought In Killing - July 21, 1989
- 18-Year-Old's Slaying Lacks Motive, Suspects - September 18, 1989
- Kaitlyn Arquette's Death Snarled in Contradictions - July 8, 1990
- Murder Charges Dropped Against Arquette Suspects - April 24, 1991
- DA Drops Charges in Arquette Shooting - April 24, 1991
- Mother tracks killer by the book - July 2, 1992
- "Unsolved Mysteries" Explores Arquette Case - January 27, 1993
- E-Mail Crusaders Want Teen's Murder Solved - February 18, 1997
- 'Who Killed My Daughter?' - November 24, 1997
- Mom Writes On About Daughter's Slaying - October 18, 2001
- Mom Seeks Closure in '89 Slaying - July 19, 2012
- Acclaimed Author Renews Fight for Answers to Daughter's 1989 Albuquerque Murder - August 20, 2013
- Who Killed Lois Duncan's Daughter? - May 30, 2014
- Writer reveals twisted tale of police cover-ups and organized crime she claims is behind her daughter's murder - June 1, 2014
- Writer never gave up on justice for daughter - June 17, 2016
- Lois Duncan and the answer she never found - August 9, 2016
- Family still seeks answers 30 years after local woman’s mysterious death - July 15, 2019
- 30 years later, Kait’s death is still a mystery - July 17, 2019
- Confession emerges 32 years after infamous killing of student - August 24, 2021
- New Mexico man confesses to killing 2 women more than 30 years ago, Albuquerque police say - August 24, 2021
- Sitcoms Online Discussion of Kaitlyn Arquette
- Kaitlyn Arquette on Find a Grave