the night of the shooting
At 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, 1989, Kaitlyn Arquette, 18, of Albuquerque, NM, who had recently graduated from high school and gotten her own apartment, stopped by her parents' home en route to visit a new girlfriend, Sharon Smith. Kait told her parents that Sharon had invited her for dinner and had given her written directions to show the route to take to her house in Old Town.
Kait also said that she was breaking up with her
live-in Vietnamese boyfriend, Dung Ngoc Nguyen, and if he called trying
to find her, not to say where she was. When Kait left Sharon's home at
10:45 p.m., driving east on Lomas Blvd. in the direction of her parents'
house, she was shot twice in the head. Her car jumped the median and
came to rest against a pole at the intersection of Lomas and Arno
Streets. Kait survived 20 hours in a coma and died the next evening.
Police used the written directions they found on the floor of Kait's
car to lead them to Sharon Smith's house. Sharon told APD that Kait
arrived at her home at 9:30 p.m. However, Sharon later expended
considerable effort to locate and phone Kait's family, who had moved out
of state, to tell them that Kait arrived at her home at approximately 7
p.m., having come directly from a 5 p.m. dollar movie at a nearby
This was impossible, since Kait had left her parents’ house at 6:15
p.m. She could not have attended that movie.
During her phone conversation with Kait's mother, Sharon described
Kait's final evening. She said Kait seemed very upset, kept bursting
into tears for no apparent reason, and made Sharon phone her apartment
over and over to see if Dung was there. She did not want to speak to
him, just to nail down his whereabouts. There was never an answer.
Sharon dialed the apartment for the final time at 10:40 p.m.; there was
still no answer.
The day after the shooting, one of Kait's friends
informed the Arquettes that Dung was a member of an organized crime ring
that Kait was in a position to expose.
(See “Motive – Asian Crime in New Mexico and California.”)
Dung's alibis for the night of the shooting were An
Quoc Le and Khanh Tuan Pham. Dung told police that he and his friends
had spent the evening at a restaurant, and Khanh had dropped him off at
Kait's apartment at 10 p.m.. That alibi was never verified and is in
conflict with Sharon Smith's statement that Dung was not home to respond
to a 10:40 p.m. phone call.
Sharon told Kait's mother that she is certain the Vietnamese killed
Kait and has fled New Mexico in fear for her own life.
Kait’s family questions why Sharon gave conflicting stories about Kait’s arrival time. When did Kait really get to Sharon’s house? Why did Sharon phone Kait’s mother in an attempt to establish the story that Kait came to her home straight from a 5 p.m. movie? What was Kait really doing between 6:15 p.m. when she left her parents’ house and 10:50 p.m. when she was shot to death in her car?