Was she the victim of a random shooting or was Kaitlyn Arquette silenced?

Kaitlyn Arquette

A man pulled up next to her car and shot her


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:

“He was eight years older than her but we thought he was only four years older, because they’d lied to us. She knew we wouldn’t let her date someone that much older. He seemed like a nice guy and he was around the house a lot. We liked him.”

They were involved in an insurance scam

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 told us she’d had a big fight with her boyfriend, she was breaking up with him, and she was going to a girlfriend’s house for dinner. She said she would either spend the night there or come back and spend it at our house. She was not going to go back to the apartment.“

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:

“It was a call from the hospital emergency room. They said Kait was there and that she’d been injured. They wouldn’t tell me what’d happened on the phone, so my husband and I drove to the hospita, and learned Kait had been shot twice in the head. She was in a coma.” 

The handwriting was not Kaitlyn’s

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:

“Kaitlyn’s boyfriend told me that he had been out with a couple of friends. They had eaten, they’d played pool and they’d had a couple of drinks. I discovered a note on top of the kitchen table. The note read something to the effect of ‘Hon, I’ll be home at a certain time’. He indicated that the note came from Kaitlyn.”

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:

“One of our daughters told me that in March, the boyfriend had staged a fake accident in a car that Kait had rented for him with our credit card.”

Three phone calls were made from her apartment

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:

“It was evidently a major, multi-million dollar insurance scam. And Kait had found out about it.  At the time, we didn’t know how we could fit this in with her shooting. But all of a sudden, there was something that suggested a possible motive. If Kait was breaking up with her boyfriend at that time, maybe she was a danger to the people who had arranged this.”

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:

“They were made just minutes after she was pronounced dead, when her boyfriend was with us at the hospital, and the apartment should have been unoccupied. The number turned out to belong to a Vietnamese paralegal in Orange County. It was the same paralegal who set up the car wrecks.”

Lois asked a local crime reporter, Mike Gallagher, to investigate. Mike first spoke to Kait’s former landlord:

“I got the impression from neighbors that Kaitlyn was more afraid of her boyfriend’s friends, rather than her boyfriend. She would get disturbed when they only spoke Vietnamese around her and they tended to make fun of her. Kait did not like her boyfriend’s friends and I think the feeling was mutual.”

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:

“It was obvious just by comparing the handwriting of the note with Kaitlyn’s writing, that she did not write that note. And that led me to believe that within hours of her shooting, her boyfriend was already lying to police.”

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:

“I don’t think that the Vietnamese connection is related to this case. Thus far, I have not received any information to indicate positively that the Vietnamese are involved in this homicide.”

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:

“I think it’s important for the police and anybody who looks at this case to remember that Kaitlyn’s boyfriend’s friends were involved with large scale organized criminal activity in Los Angeles and multi-million dollar insurance frauds. I don’t think the police ever took that seriously.” 

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:

“Our family doesn’t have any real idea who pulled the trigger on Kait. The one thing we feel very strong about is that she was not shot randomly by people just out on a spree, having fun, shooting a pretty girl in a red car. We believe Kait was killed because she was going to expose illegal activities involving her boyfriend and his companions.”

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.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. KLH

    You need to update this to solved. Kaitlyn Arquette was murdered by Paul Apodaca who in 2021 confessed to three murders; Stella Gonzales, Althea Oakeley and Kaitlyn Arquette. In January 2024, he was sentenced to 62 years within the New Mexico Department of Corrections, with an incarceration term of 45 years. Any time not served in custody will be suspended on five years of supervised probation. He must also register as a sex offender. As for Juvenal, yes, “in the end, the charges were dropped because police could not connect Juvenal with the gun or the shooting,” but it was 18 months later and his life and that of his friend and co-defendent Miguel Garcia, has never been the same. Miguel Garcia is a common enough name but Juvenal Escobedo is not. We all feel bad for the families of murder victims and especially when their deaths go unsolved or there’s a long delay, like years, but those two young men have suffered too.


    • Sandra

      Yes he was caught and is in jail it was solved. Unfortunately the mom died in 2016 she never got any closure because it wasn’t solved until years after the mom’s death.


  2. Tom

    It’s good to see her murder finally solved. Apparently she just ran into the wrong person at the wrong time. Glad he confessed.


  3. Tom

    It’s very good to finally see her murder solved. Sadly she just ran into the wrong person at the wrong time. Glad he confessed.


  4. Chanita jackson

    Bless your heart katyin RIP and god bless you!!! And to unsolved mysteries god bless you men and women working around the clock bringing us these cases thank you again!!!!!


  5. Peace and warmth to you who need it most.

    She was definitely killed to keep quiet! The insurance scam was just the beginning though, poor Kait wound up in much deeper. It’s my feeling that APD is not going to be of much help, this case is far too large, and they are also at risk of exposure. For this reason they will never truly be involved, to the point of resolution that is..
    I also feel the more time that goes by the the more loss the case suffers. Let’s hope and pray with regard to Kait and her family, my thoughts are with you all.


    • J

      Nope. This case was solved in 2021. A serial killer and rapist named Paul Apodaca confessed to killing her and several other women. The police just totally botched this since Apodaca was found on the scene by police when they arrived and he was never brought in for questioning.


  6. Charles

    I have lived in Albuquerque for over two years now and the police department is rife with corruption and negligence. The boyfriend was obviously guilty.


  7. DMcConrow

    So if there is even a hint of a multi-million dollar insurance scam, wouldn’t the insurance company be all over it? Insurance investigators are like bulldogs. Where is that in the story?


  8. thinkingoutloud

    i think either the boyfriend and/or his friend definitely planned this murder. his friends were not fond of kaitlyn and she wasn’t fond of them. once they found out she was going to break it off, she was murdered to keep silent of the scam. i do believe the boyfriend knew this was happening, the phone calls from the apartment shows someone was obviously there to confirm that Kaitlin was shot and then later pronounced dead, no coincidence. did the boyfriebd ever justify why a call was made from their apartment while they were both at the hospital?? just a shame they do not have real evidence besides the brown car to defend it. however the insurance is 10000% a motive for her death. Rip Katelyn, she definitely deserved better


  9. Anonymous

    Update – Lois Duncan, Kait’s mom, passed away in June 2016. She was 82. (Link to New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/books/lois-duncan-82-dies-author-knew-what-you-did-last-summer.html?_r=0)

    The case has not been solved, despite the two books Lois wrote: “Who Killed My Daughter” (1992) and the sequel, “One to the Wolves” (2015).


  10. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, Lois Duncan passed away days ago at the age of 82 with this case still unsolved.


  11. Anonymous

    Hmmmm…look for others, whom are closest


  12. Anonymous

    The Vietnam boyfriend is the guilty one,the police did a poor job,never followed with it.


  13. Mollie

    I belive that her boyfriend was involved ,, maybe the aguement they had she may of mentioned breaking up with him or even telling about the scam he might of followed her with some of his friends waited till she left her friends house then had the chance to kill her


  14. Mandila

    Just simply wanted to emphasize I’m happy I came onto your website page!


  15. Anonymous

    That’s what happens when someone gets involved with Asian thugs. I know from first hand experience. Those snakes are not to be trusted. They stick to their own kind and their own culture too much. No room for outsiders in their world.


  16. cory

    I think it was connected to the insurance scamf


  17. Abq Writer

    A man with the same name as Kait’s boyfriend was the shooter in an fatal incident that just occurred in Albuquerque. (March 2016) A Dung Nguyen walked into a Vietnamese restaurant and shot 3 people, killing two. He then killed himself. The 3 were said to be estranged family members of Nguyen. Was it the same Dung Nguyen?


  18. Xlinyl

    If Kaityn told her mother she had a huge fight with her boyfriend and wanted out of the relationship and that she wasn’t going back to the apartment, why would the boyfriend provide police with a note written by her stating, ” Hon, I’ll be home at certain time…”? Uh, Hon,? As in Honey? She said to people she knew she wasn’t going back. The boyfriend knows more than he’s saying in my opinion. Statistics show you are more likely to be killed by the person you know than a complete stranger.


    • thinkingoutloud

      Very true! why didn’t they question him more on the letter if she wasn’t even planning on returning? police were too quick ruling out the boyfriend and his friends.


  19. Anonymous

    I read some of the book “Who Killed My Daughter” years ago so when I saw this story on the show, I remembered it. I looked up the book and when I saw Kaitlyn’s photo on the cover of the book, I knew I remembered the right story. I believe the boyfriend had something to do with her shooting and I really think he knows who did it… if he didn’t do it himself. I actually bought Lois’s book and am reading it. It is a really interesting book. I really hope this case gets solved eventually so Kait can rest in peace and so her family can sleep peacefully at night. Kudos to Lois and Don for not giving up the search for her killer. I hope they get the answers they are looking for !


  20. Laurie

    I believe she was killed to be quiet and the boyfriend admitted to not look guilty.I hope this case gets solved and kait can rest in heaven


  21. Johnny

    I think this Kait case is one that can be solved. Somebody knows something. A brother or friend perhaps. The boyfriend is a likely suspect. What are the odds Kait would die the night she decided to break away and knew about insurance scam? Probably 10 million to 1. Justice for Kait and her family!


  22. a.p

    I don’t think that her death had anything to do with insurance scam. if so , then why did her boyfriend and his companion confess about the money scam?? obviously they wouldn’t kill her so that they themselves would confess later. it has to be something else


    • thinkingoutloud

      this is true. maybe they thought if Kaitlyn squealed initially it was going to be worse for them so they murdered her such as maybe she knew even MORE information about other illegal acts they committed. maybe there was more linked to the scam then we know.


  23. joe

    How do police find out about insurance money especially if its in another state. And about bank finance. Again bank from another state or po box .
    how long did the boyfriend live there , new re did he. Live before, so forth.


  24. R A

    I can tell you right now !! If it was another police agency this would be solved.. They have done this family an injustice.. I’m sorry..


  25. LDW

    Her mother wrote 2 books about this case.


  26. Stephanie coronel

    I think the boyfriend is suspicious


  27. hihello

    i think that investigator got scared of the vietnamese guys


  28. Stephanie Pucci

    I think Kaitlyn was killed to keep her mouth shut.