Two arrests made in connection to La Junta homicide on May 14, first homicide in 2021
Police have arrested two Garden City, Kansas, residents following the killing of a 49-year-old man in La Junta’s Morningside Heights neighborhood.
Matthew Perez, 38, faces first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Ernesto Apodaca in La Junta on May 14. Nikki Olivas, 32, faces charges of being an accessory to the homicide.
Apodaca was sitting inside his vehicle outside of his apartment in the 600 block of Sunrise Avenue around 6:30 p.m. Friday when he was shot.
Perez and Apodaca are believed to have been acquainted with one another, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. However, circumstances surrounding their relationship and the homicide are part of an active investigation.
It is uncertain whether Olivas knew the victim.
“There have been a number of tips that have come in and investigators are following up on those,” said Susan Medina, communications director for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. “I think that would be a priority for me is to stress the importance of reporting any information that people may know or would like to report.”
Perez and Olivas were arrested near a residence without incident in Finney County, Kansas, outside Garden City limits. Law enforcement also recovered the suspect vehicle in the area. Perez and Olivas are being held in the Finney County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility without bond. Extradition to Otero County is pending.
“With the suspects being located in Kansas, it took a great deal of coordination with law enforcement agencies in Kansas,” Medina said. “Whether it’s one or several, the fact that they all came together and arrests have been made is important.”
The La Junta Police Department is conducting the investigation with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado State Patrol, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, the Otero County Coroner’s Office and the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
“We are contacted by law enforcement across the state on a daily basis to provide investigative assistance,” Medina said.
Apodoca’s death is the first homicide of the year for the city of La Junta. Only one homicide was recorded in La Junta in 2020, according to the La Junta Police Department. Those with information concerning the incident are asked to contact the La Junta Police Department’s Emergency Communications Center at 719-384-2525.
“Encouraging anyone with information to call the La Junta Police Department to provide any details would be very critical as this remains an active investigation,” Medina said.
All suspects are presumed innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
La Junta news reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at email@example.com.