Was she the victim of a random shooting or was Kaitlyn Arquette silenced?
On June 14th, 1989, 18 year-old Kaitlyn Arquette graduated from Highland High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kait was a popular, outgoing honor student who had recently been accepted at the University of New Mexico, with plans of one day attending med school. Shortly before graduation, using money she received from an insurance settlement, Kait moved in with her boyfriend. Kait’s mother, Lois Duncan, was aware of the arrangement, if not entirely up to speed:
Six weeks later, on July 16th, Kait met with her mother and admitted that she and her boyfriend had been having serious problems almost from the moment they moved in together. Kait wanted her mother to lie to the boyfriend regarding her whereabouts. There was urgency in Kate’s request:
Kait visited her girlfriend that night from 9:30 P.M. to 10:45 P.M., then headed east along Lomas Road towards her mothers house. It is believed that while on her way home, a car pulled up alongside Kait and someone inside shot her. A little before midnight, Lois Duncan received a distressing phone call:
Five hours later, police arrived at Kait’s apartment. Her live-in boyfriend was home alone, seemingly unaware that his girlfriend had been shot and was close to death. Det. Steve Gallegos of the Albuquerque Police Department questioned him on his whereabouts at the time of the shooting:
When the police left the apartment, Kait’s boyfriend headed straight to the hospital and joined her family at her bedside. Less than 24 hours later, Kaitlyn was dead.
Six months later, police ruled that Kaitlyn Arquette had been the victim of a random act of violence. Kait’s mother refused to accept that ruling. Following her daughter’s death, she began to uncover dark hints that Kait had somehow gotten mixed up with a major criminal organization. Two and a half months before she was killed, Kaitlyn and her boyfriend took a trip to Southern California. According to Lois, Kait had become involved in a complex insurance scam after her boyfriend rear-ended another car:
The scam was reportedly set up by a powerful Vietnamese gang. Everyone involved in the accident complained of soft tissue injuries to the neck and lower back and were later treated by a doctor who was part of the fraud. A law firm in Orange County, California, handled the insurance claims. Kait and her boyfriend received fifteen hundred dollars as their share of the settlement. Lois Duncan learned more:
A few weeks after Kait’s death, her mother made a disturbing discovery: three calls had been made from Kait’s apartment at almost the exact moment of her death. Lois Duncan:
Lois asked a local crime reporter, Mike Gallagher, to investigate. Mike first spoke to Kait’s former landlord:
Mike Gallagher was able to obtain a copy of the note that police believed Kait had left for her boyfriend on the day of the shooting. He compared it with another sample of her handwriting:
The landlord also told Gallagher that, on the night Kaitlyn died, three of her boyfriend’s associates were in her apartment drinking. Kait’s mother was convinced that one of them made the phone calls to the law firm in Orange County. Det. Gallegos disagrees:
Kait’s mother remained convinced that her daughter’s death was related to the insurance scam, but the police were going in a completely different direction. Six months after the murder, an informant led police to a young man named Juvenal Escobedo. They discovered that Escobedo had recently sold his brown Chevrolet Camaro. On the night of Kait’s murder, a truck driver had reported seeing a brown Camaro chasing a young woman in a car similar to Kaitlyn’s. In the end, the charges were dropped because police could not connect Juvenal with the gun or the shooting.
Finally, under pressure from Kait’s family, the police questioned her boyfriend again. This time, he admitted that he and a friend had taken part in the insurance scam, but maintained his innocence in her death. Charges have never been filed against him or any of his friends, nor is he considered a suspect in Kait’s murder. Mike Gallagher was unsatisfied with the police investigation:
There seem to be two viable theories about who killed Kaitlyn. She was either the victim of a random shooting, or she was executed to keep her from exposing the insurance scam. Kait’s mother Lois maintains her belief that this was no random act:
UPDATE: In July 2021, Paul Apodaca, who was the first person on the scene that fateful day, confessed to the murder of Kaitlyn Arquette after having been caught for unrelated crimes. In February of 2022, Apodaca was officially indicted for the crime.