Who Killed Kait Arquette?
Who Killed Kait Arquette?
Albuquerque teen's 1989 slaying remains unsolved due to police coverup?


Excerpts from One TO the Wolves: On the trail of a killer


a sequel to WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER? by Lois Duncan. This has been published as an e-book by Planet Ann Rule and can be downloaded to Kindles, Nooks, I-Pads and other e-book readers.


                    http://tiny.cc/xnjo0w                       http://tiny.cc/rrjo0w



Who Killed My Daughter? hit Albuquerque like a nuclear explosion.  One bookstore that had placed an order for 100 copies sold them all within hours and frantically wired the warehouse for another shipment.  TV newscasts showed customers scrambling for the last copies on the shelves, and newspaper headlines screamed "Sloppy Police Work Frustrated Duncan" and "Mother Relentlessly Searches For the Awful Truth."

            "This book is sure to offend some readers," said an article in the Albuquerque Tribune.  "Albuquerque police are portrayed as a bunch of bureaucratic bunglers, the District Attorney's Office as uncaring prosecutors.  Each time Arquette's family uncovered additional information that suggested her death was no accident, it would be turned over to the police.  But, Duncan wrote, the information never went anywhere because police insisted the shooting was random.”

            Initially the police declined to comment, because they said the investigation was on-going.  A day or so later they changed their minds.  The deputy chief of investigations, told reporters, "The case is still open, but there's no active investigation."  Asked whether he had read Who Killed My Daughter?, he responded, "No, I don't read fiction."  He said the police department stood by their investigation as thorough and professional and "we checked out every lead there was."

             The promotion tour was launched in New York, and I made my TV debut on Good Morning, America.  When I arrived at the studio I made the unsettling discovery that I would be sharing the segment with members of New Mexico law enforcement who had been taped in advance by the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque.

            "Police say it is unlikely there will ever be another arrest," said the narrator,  standing at the intersection where Kait was shot. "Police say they know who killed Kaitlyn, but without reliable witnesses it's a case that will not hold up in court."

            The next face to fill the screen was that of a captain from APD, who, as far as I knew, had had no part in the investigation.

            "I think our people did an excellent job," he said proudly.  "The Vietnamese angle was extensively looked into.  We were aware of that soon after the homicide occurred.  We could find no tie to the homicide with any Vietnamese gang."

            Then, onto the screen popped the face of District Attorney Bob Schwartz.

            "Did the police blow the investigation?" the reporter asked him.

            "No," Schwartz said.  "This case was victimized by the witnesses in the case."  His voice took on a note of sadness.  "I have seen other parents who have suffered the worst pain imaginable ... they need to blame someone and they typically will blame the system."

            "What do you want to say in response to what you just heard?" the hostess, Joan Lundon, asked me as my face replaced Schwartz's on the monitor.

            I tried to respond diplomatically.

            "When people in authority are backed to the wall it's common for them to be defensive about it," I said.  "Bob Schwartz, as far as I know, is an ethical man, but being in the position he is as district attorney, all he had to go on was what was in the police report.  I think there are things that Bob Schwartz wasn't aware of."

            "Good luck to you, Lois Duncan."

            Mercifully it was over, and I knew in my heart that it had been a disaster.  The last thing I had expected was that on my very first interview I would be forced to respond to statements from Albuquerque law enforcement.  The police captain had made me seem like a paranoid liar, alleging that there was Vietnamese gang activity when none existed, and the district attorney had issued the coup de grace by portraying me as a woman so deranged by grief that she was attacking the very people who were trying to help her.

            I returned to the hotel, so embarrassed and discouraged that all I wanted to do was hide in a closet.

            The phone in my room was ringing when I walked through the door.

            It was the assistant publicist who had arranged the tour.

            "We're already getting calls about the program," she told me.  "Producers from major talk shows are interested in interviewing you, and we've had a firm invitation from Larry King Live.  You're going to be on that show a week from Tuesday."

            "But it was a fiasco!" I exclaimed.  "That captain said the Vietnamese angle was thoroughly investigated, and the district attorney -- "

            "That's what hooked their interest!" the publicist broke in.  "A grief stricken mother, beating her breast is boring, but a battle is exciting.  Bob Schwartz will be flying to Washington to join you.  Larry King is going to let you spar in person."

            "He's what?" I gasped in horror.  The talking heads on Good Morning, America had been intimidating enough, but at least I had been able to respond without interacting.   They had made their canned little speeches and been wiped from the screen, leaving me free to rebut their words without further confrontation.  A debate with the district attorney was out of the question.  Not only was Schwartz a slick and experienced prosecutor, he had a second persona as an entertainer, known for his barbed wit and his ability to verbally decapitate opponents.

            “I can’t do it,” I said.  “There’s no way I can ‘spar’ with Bob Schwartz.”

            But I know I would have to.


Excerpt from CHAPTER SIX:

The luncheon was a highlight of the Southwest Writers' Conference.  The speakers were assigned specific tables, identified by signs with the authors' names.

            As we neared the end of the main course a woman across from me suddenly exclaimed, "Aren't those pretty!"  I turned in my chair to see a young man headed in our direction with an elaborate arrangement of silk flowers.  People were craning their necks to follow his progress as he worked his way across the room, struggling to avoid colliding with tray-laden wait people.

            Assuming the floral arrangement was for the luncheon speaker, I looked away.  .  Then, to my astonishment, the flowers were plunked down onto the table in front of me.

            The conversation at our table was extinguished in a heartbeat.  Everybody stared at me expectantly as I removed the card from its envelope.  The message on it was the last I ever would have expected.

            Mrs. Arquette, I wish you the best in finding Kait's killer.  I don't think I have the answers you seek, but someday I would like to meet you.  You're a strong mother and I wish Kait had introduced us before she left.  I hope this arrangement shows that there are some out here who are still looking and love her very much.  Rod.


            I felt as if somebody had crashed a fist into my chest.  According to psychics, Rod was Kait's secret second boyfriend, a young man she had been seeing without Dung's knowledge.  For four years I'd been searching for evidence that this mystery man existed, and now suddenly, here he was!

            Our lunch plates had by now been removed and a glass of tangerine sherbet of the exact same shade as the flowers sat melting in front of me.  Somebody at the head table was clinking a spoon against a glass to indicate the start of the program.  Mumbling an apology to my tablemates, I picked up the flower arrangement and carried it out to the lobby.

            "Do you know who delivered these?" I asked the clerk at the front desk.

            He told me he didn't.

            I went up to my room and set the arrangement on the table next to the bed.  It was exceptionally pretty and clearly not inexpensive.  There was even a little feathered bird nestled among the clusters of pastel blossoms.  I wondered if it had a bomb in it.

            How in God's name could I know the intentions of the sender?  Who was this "Rod" and how did he fit into the picture?  As far as I knew Kait had been involved with no one but Dung.  And yet -- and yet --

            Digging deep into my storehouse of memories, I pulled up a casually dropped comment that she had made only weeks before her death.

            "I've met such a darling guy!  He'd be the perfect boyfriend, for somebody in the market for a boyfriend."

            Had that "darling guy" been Rod?  Was this the young man who three different psychics had told us took Kait to a party house in the mountains where she allegedly saw a VIP buying drugs?  If so, why was he reaching out to me now?  And if he wanted to meet with me, why hadn't he told me how to contact him?

            The phone rang.


Excerpt from CHAPTER EIGHT

In the spring of 1994, the paperback edition of Who Killed My Daughter? came out.   That led to a fresh round of media blitz, and one of the shows I appeared on was Sally Jessy Raphael.

             Prior to that event we donated $1,200 to an organization called WE-TIP to use their 800 number for call-in tips. When we contacted WE-TIP after the show, they informed us their operators had received over 1,000 calls about Kait's case and related criminal activities.  While common sense told us the majority of those calls were bound to be irrelevant, it was hard to believe that out of that many tips there would not be at least a couple that would be worth following up on.

            However, when we tried to get access to the tips, we were told that WE-TIP could release them only to the police.  Despite the fact that we were the ones who generated the tips and paid for the use of the hot line, as private citizens we had no more legal right to information about Kait's murder than any stranger on the street.

            We wrote to the police chief in Albuquerque, requesting permission for WE-TIP to give us the tips.  He did not respond. 

            An attorney, who specialized in insurance fraud, phoned Detective Gallegos to ask him to intercede for us.  Gallegos said he was no longer permitted to talk about Kait’s case and all communication must be directed to the district attorney.

            The attorney wrote to DA Bob Schwartz, explaining the situation and requesting permission for our family to access the tips.

            Schwartz did not respond.

            However, there was one tipster who managed to bypass the bureaucracy and get in touch with us directly through the Sally Jessy Show.

            The message she left for us said:  "Do you know that a man with a record of violent crime was standing next to your daughter's car when police arrived at the scene?"

            That caller was Patricia Caristo, a private investigator at National Investigations Association of New Mexico (NIA), who, back in 1992, had been retained by a law firm to conduct an accident reconstruction of Kait's shooting in respect to a potential motor-vehicle-insurance-claim. When Don and I declined to participate, Pat's job was officially over, but by then she had become so intrigued by the case that she had not been able to let go of it.

            "The crime scene appears to have been badly mishandled," she told us.  "When I read the reports, I was appalled.  Not only was the man at the scene not interviewed, but there was evidence that wasn't followed up on, and no evidence hold was placed on Kait’s car.  When I saw you on television, still asking all the same questions I started asking two years ago, I felt that I had to get in touch with you."

            "Who was the man standing next to Kait's car?" Don asked her.

            "His name was Paul Apodaca," Pat said.  "If this is the man I think he is, he’s a predator with a record of vicious attacks upon women.  In one case he abducted a woman, bound her hands, and struck her repeatedly on the head with a baseball bat.  Just three months before Kait’s murder, Paul and his brother Mark Apodaca, who also has a history of violence, were arrested for negligent use of a handgun of the same small caliber that is thought to have killed Kait.  I can’t imagine how police could allow him to leave the scene and never even take a statement from him.”

            "What do you mean by 'the same caliber that is thought to have killed Kait'?" I asked.  "Surely they could determine the caliber of the bullets."

             "No bullets or casings were found," Pat said.

             "But a bullet went through the door frame!"

            "Only a tiny piece of it was found in the car — not enough to determine the caliber."

            "The rest vanished into thin air?"

            "Apparently so."

            "Two bullets went into her head --"

            "They weren't found either."

             "But there weren't any exit wounds!"  I said in bewilderment.

            It was too incredible to take in, so Don switched subjects.

            "What other issues do you have with the crime scene?” he asked her.

             "Well, for one thing, police were allegedly able to identify the location where Kait was shot by a large accumulation of broken glass,” Pat said.  “From there her car traveled over 700 feet, crossed the median, and came to rest against a pole.  It was found

with the automatic transmission in park, and one of her shoes was lying on the ground

outside the closed door on the driver's side."

             "That's impossible!" Don exclaimed.  "Kait wasn't in any condition to put the gear shift in park!  And how would her shoe get outside the car?"

             "That's a good question, since neither of the first two officers at the scene admits to opening the driver's door.  Both say they went directly to the passenger's side, which is why they didn't notice the bullet hole in the doorframe.  That bullet hole is another piece of evidence that wasn't taken seriously.  APD field investigators speculated that the hole was made by a larger caliber bullet than the ones that apparently shattered in Kait's head.  If true, that means two guns were used.”

            “I'm a former police officer and intelligence analyst with the Governor's Organized Crime Commission.  With your permission, I'd like to put together an analysis of the police investigation, based on the materials in the case file, and present it to the new police chief, Joseph Polisar.  When I worked with the Intelligence Unit, Polisar was the supervisor, and he seemed to value the concept of analysis."

            Pat did this work without charge and hand-delivered the 75-page report to the chief’s office.

            "Please, accept this analysis in the spirit in which it is offered," she said in her cover letter.  "I have taken no actions that might compromise any on-going law enforcement investigation.  I am at your disposal to discuss my analysis and the results of my investigation to date if you so desire."

            Chief Polisar didn't respond.  He later told reporters that he never received the report.  He said it must have been lost in the mail.


Excerpt from CHAPTER NINE:

"Almost all major crime in this state comes back to the drug scene,” said *Roy Nolan, (a private investigator in Albuquerque, who had volunteered to help NIA investigate Kait’s case).  “The small time dealers get arrested.  The guys at the top are running the state of New Mexico.  They’re The Untouchables.”

“That doesn’t explain what went wrong at the crime scene,” Pat said.  “Why did Detective Merriman call in a report of an accident with no injuries?”

            “I’ll try to find out what happened that night,” Nolan said.

            "Be careful," Pat cautioned.  "You don't want to rattle the wrong cage."

            "I know what I’m doing," Nolan told her.  "I'll make a few calls and get back with you.  Where are you staying, Lois?"

            I told him the name of my motel.

            That night, reeling from jet lag, I went to bed early, only to be jerked into consciousness several hours later by the blast of the telephone.  I groped in the dark for the receiver, and when I finally located it, it took me a moment to recognize the staccato that ripped into my ear as the voice of the unflappable, street smart investigator with whom I had spent the afternoon.

            "We were totally off base," Nolan said urgently.  "The cops who handled the crime scene are clean as the driven snow."

            "How do you know?" I asked, still groggy with sleep.

            "Just take my word for it,” Nolan told me.  “All the cops who worked on Kait’s case are clean.  This wasn't a cover-up, Lois.  Also, we were wrong about the motive for Kait's murder.  She was the victim of a car-jacking."

            “What?" I was fully awake now and couldn't believe what I was hearing.

            "Paul Apodaca was a car-jacker.  That's the only thing that makes sense."

             "But what about Apodaca's own car?" I stammered.  "What was he planning to do with that when he drove off in Kait's car?  And how does this mesh with the car wreck scam and the drug dealing?"

            "The Vietnamese had nothing to do with this case," Nolan insisted. "And drugs didn’t play any part in it.  This was a car jacking, pure and simple.  There's no other possibility."

            "I don't buy that," I said.

            "This is important, Lois.  You've got to believe me!"

            "I don't buy it," I repeated stubbornly and hung up the phone.

            Nothing about the outrageous scenario was credible.  Was I really supposed to believe that Paul Apodaca was standing on the sidewalk, drinking a Budweiser, and became so enamored of Kait's five year old Ford Tempo as she drove past him that he shot her?  Then he set his beer can down on the curb, chased Kait’s car 719 feet until it hit a post, jumped in and wiped it clean of prints?  Then he leapt into his VW bug and drove down the street, where witnesses reported seeing a VW pull into the lot next to their home,  made a U-turn, and returned to the scene, just in time to cozy up to an off duty police officer, while his own VW left the scene all by itself without a driver?      

            Obviously something had happened since I'd last seen Nolan, and whatever it was had him terrified, either for himself or for me.  In his effort to get information, he must have gone to the wrong person.

            It suddenly struck me that I might have made a very bad mistake.  I should have pretended to accept the car jacking story.  Now they -- whoever the mysterious "they" might be -- would have to find another way to convince me, and that might take a rougher form than a friendly phone call.

            A chill swept over me as I envisioned one of the cops involved in the cover-up arriving at my motel room.  How could I refuse to open up to the police?  Or maybe he wouldn't even bother to announce himself.  The manager would have no qualms about handing over my room key to a uniformed officer who told him I was wanted by the law.  It was hard to imagine the type of person who could intimidate a man like Roy Nolan, and I wasn't in a hurry to find out.

            I threw on my clothes, grabbed my suitcase, and left the motel room.  The light above the doorway shone down like a spotlight, and I had never felt more vulnerable in my life than I did as I stood there fumbling in my purse for my car keys.  I found them, got into the car, and pulled out of the parking lot onto a street as deserted as the one that Kait had been driving on the night she was shot.  I could visualize the headline -- "Mother Imitates Daughter -- Random Shootings Run In Family" -- a natural for the National Enquirer.  On a rational level I realized that I was being paranoid, but paranoid people could get shot just as easily as anybody else.  

            It seemed like forever before I spotted a motel with a vacancy sign.  I pulled in and took a room for the remainder of the night, and the first thing in the morning, drove to the airport to trade in my eye-catching teal rental car for a car of a different make and color.  It was possible that Nolan had noticed what I was driving and had shared that information with others.

            In my innocuous new vehicle -- (I had specified that I wanted something "inconspicuous and grungy," a request that had not gone down well with the people at Avis) -- I drove to Pat's office.

            "Where have you been?" she demanded.  "Roy Nolan has been calling here trying to locate you.  He says he's checked out all the cops connected with Kait's case and they're 'clean as the driven snow.'  He tried to call you this morning and when you didn't pick up he got worried.  He asked me what kind of car you were driving.”

            "Why did he want to know that?"

            "I don't know what he was thinking.  Maybe he was going to try to look for you.  He seemed very concerned that you'd left your motel without telling us."

            "Did he tell you Kait was shot during a car jacking?" I asked her.

            "Of course not," Pat said.  "That's ridiculous."

            "We've lost Roy Nolan," I said.



            A movie loosely based upon my novel, I Know What You Did Last Summer, opened in theaters around the country.  I was ecstatic until I settled into a theater seat with my box of popcorn and discovered that Hollywood had turned my teenage suspense story into a slasher film.  The setting had been changed from the mountains of New Mexico to a fishing village on the East Coast, so an insane fisherman, who wasn’t in my book, could decapitate my characters with an ice hook.  The first thing I did after leaving the theater was phone our daughter Kerry and warn her not to let the grandchildren see it.

            The positive side of the misadventure with the awful movie was that I had been paid for the film rights and we suddenly had some discretionary income.  We used some of that to post a reward for new information leading to the conviction of Kait's killers and donated much of the rest to help Pat turn her investigations agency non-profit so she could provide pro bono services to other victims of violent crime. 

In my frantic efforts to get public exposure for Kait’s case, I had submitted her story to an interactive web site called “Crime Scene Evidence Files.”  Its creator, Tom Arriola, had a flair for the dramatic, and his site was extremely popular with armchair detectives, because the public was invited to participate in solving the cases.  It wasn’t until I’d already submitted Kait’s story that I realized the cases on the “Crime Scene Evidence Files” site were fictional.

Although Kait’s case was inappropriate for that venue, Tom had been so sympathetic to our plight that he had posted it anyway.  Now, I asked him if he would be willing to post other true crimes cases in addition to Kait’s. 

When I told him about the dozens of families who had contacted me about inept or corrupt investigations of their own loved ones’ murders, Tom suggested that we create a separate web site that would be for real crimes only and could be promoted as a resource for investigative reporters and TV producers.

            Our Real Crimes site http://www.realcrimes.com was launched in 1998.  Tom subsidized it through his site, and Don designed it.  My contribution was to interview the families of murder victims and help them word their stories.  For those stories to be taken seriously, they had to be documented, so we asked the families to provide copies of police reports, autopsy reports, and scene photos.  Don scanned those documents and linked them to allegations within the text.

At times the evidence of corruption was mind-blowing.  In the Peter Klunck case, in Albuquerque, a newspaper article quoted the police chief as stating that APD officer Matt Griffin and his fellow officers shot Peter in the chest in self-defense.  Don linked the chief’s statement to information from the coroner’s report that Peter was shot three times in the back.  In the John Sherman case, in Rio Rancho, just outside Albuquerque, an interview with the man who found John dead “in the driver's seat of a van, scrunched up in a ball” was linked to scene photos showing John’s body lying flat in the back of the van.

I assume the deputies moved his body because they thought the back of the van was a better spot to kill yourself,” John’s mother speculated.

It didn’t happen overnight, but as weeks and then months went by, the public discovered the Real Crimes site and people outside of New Mexico began to submit their own stories.  We expanded the site to include those as well, although the preponderance of cases was still from New Mexico.  Tom created message boards so people could discuss the cases.  Among the most vocal of those visitors were private investigators, forensic experts, police officers and attorneys, who leapt upon the discrepancies between information in police reports and the visual evidence in scene photos.