The Crime Scene
Kait left Sharon Smith’s house at about 10:40 p.m., driving east on
Lomas in the direction of her parents’ house. There are so many
contradictory accounts of the scene that all anybody seems to know for
certain is that she ended up with two bullet holes in her head. There
were no exit wounds, and the bullets were not found in her body. There
was also a bullet hole in the door frame of her car. That bullet was
never found either. Her car crossed the median and came to rest on the
sidewalk east of the intersection of Lomas and Arno Streets.
Map Of Crime Scene
The first officer at the scene, violent crimes detective Ronald
Merriman, (not in uniform--just passing by) observed two vehicles parked
on the sidewalk, Kait's red Ford Tempo and a second vehicle (later
determined to be a VW Bug). He also saw a man (later determined to be
Paul Apodaca), standing next to Kait's car. Merriman drove past the
vehicles while he radioed in to ask about an accident (none reported).
He called in a report of an accident with no injuries and returned to
the scene to investigate.
It was then that he discovered an unconscious, blood drenched girl,
lying across both front seats of the Ford.
The first officer dispatched to the scene, Mary Ann Wallace, arrived
within 40 seconds. Wallace observed only one vehicle on the
sidewalk -- Kait's Ford Tempo, with Merriman standing behind it,
chatting with Apodoca. Merriman told her the driver of the Ford had
been injured in a traffic accident and he had called for an ambulance.
(No record has been found of such a call.) Wallace took one look at the
bullet-shattered driver's window, recognized that this was a crime
scene, and radioed the station for back-up. Neither Wallace nor
Merriman took any information from Apodaca other than his name and an
incorrect phone number. To this day, no police officer has ever
interviewed Apodaca. Nor have police questioned the disappearance of
his VW Bug between the time Merriman saw it parked next to Kait's car
and the time Wallace arrived. (See “Possible Suspect – Paul Apodaca.”)
Merriman and Wallace have stated that, accompanied by Apodaca, they opened the passenger’s door of Kait’s vehicle and observed a girl sprawled across the two seats, bleeding profusely from the head. Wallace noted that the victim was “moaning and crying.”
Merriman, Wallace, and Apodaca, then, left the
scene. The medics with Albuquerque Ambulance, who transported Kait to
the hospital, have stated in individual affidavits that they responded
to a routine 10-44 call to find no cops, no police cars, no bystanders,
just Kait alone in her car, unconscious and bleeding from two head
Reports by Merriman and Wallace indicate that they
were there when rescue arrived. Merriman has specifically stated that
he couldn’t interview Paul Apodaca, because he “had to stay with the
victim.” Yet, according to the rescue team, he did NOT “stay with the
victim.” Officer Wallace has stated that Merriman told her not to
interview Apodaca, because he had already done so, and she busied
herself “directing traffic.” Yet, according to the rescue team, she was
NOT directing traffic. The medical team has stated that they almost
missed the scene, because there were no police cars and there was nobody
there to wave them over.
Police maintain that Kait was chased down on Lomas and shot twice in
the head at a stop light at the corner of Lomas and John streets. Her
car then proceeded to travel 719 feet, cross two traffic lanes, bump
over the median, cross three more lanes, go up onto the sidewalk past
the Arno intersection, and crash into a light pole. They say the
location of the shooting was defined by a large pile of broken glass at
Lomas and John. However, there is nothing to document the existence of
that glass. It was not gathered up as evidence, nor was it
The Arquette family and their investigators
speculate that the crime scene may have been altered before
investigators got there. APD criminalistics arrived late, because they
had been at a police shooting. According to their report, they were met
at the scene by Sgt. John B. Gallegos. Much of the content of the
criminalistic report apparently was based upon information from Gallegos
rather than personal observations. Sgt. Gallegos was reportedly one of
the rogue cops who partied at the chop shop on Arno one half block north
of the crime scene. He has since been fired from APD for burglarizing a
liquor store while on duty.
(See “Police Corruption.”)
Since bullets and casings were never found, there is no way to determine if the small caliber bullets that shattered in Kait’s head were of the same caliber as the bullet that struck the door frame of her car. The size of the hole in the door frame seems to suggest otherwise.
A Second Opinion:
In 2003, after reviewing copies of APD reports, forensic reports,
scene photos, etc. a member of the Bernallilo County Cold Case Squad,
(not to be confused with the APD Cold Case Squad who have no interest in
the case), came up with the following interpretation of the crime scene:
On the basis of review of available material in the matter of the death of Kaitlyn Arquette, the following observations are made:
1) This was not a random drive-by shooting
2) The shooting occurred after Kaitlyn's
vehicle had struck the utility pole
3) The accuracy of the shots suggests they were
fired at a very close range, at a non-moving target.
4) Had the shooting taken place while victim's car was in motion, it would have veered to the right of the roadway due to the left-to-right camber of the pavement. Also, the victim's falling to the right would have turned the steering wheel in that direction if she was grasping the steering wheel at the time of shooting.
5) Damage to the left end of the rear bumper suggests the rear of her vehicle was struck and pushed to the right by a second vehicle which veered her car across the median and into the utility pole.
6) This shooting was intentional and Ms. Arquette
was the specific target.
Click on the links below to view scene photos:
Car interior. The note by Sharon Smith with directions to her home lies on the floorboards.