A preschool teacher was reportedly arrested during the children’s naptime, with authorities saying she and a man murdered someone found shot to death down a highway hillside. The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office in California identified her as Diana Ornelas, 22. She and co-defendant Dennis Novoa, 27, were taken into custody Wednesday.
Deputies said they were called out April 11 at around 7 p.m. regarding a dead body down a hillside of Highway 9 near mile marker 3.56. The autopsy determined that someone shot victim Oliver Waterwall, 24, to death. According to the sheriff’s office, investigators did interviews and looked at surveillance footage. They claim Novoa and Ornelas murdered Waterfall.
“Dennis and Diana were known to Mr. Waterfall,” deputies wrote, being vague about the relationship between the victim and his alleged killers. “The motive of the homicide is believed to be of a personal nature.”
Ornelas worked as a preschool teacher at the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community (CCSC), according to The Stanford Daily. That’s a non-profit on the Stanford University campus offers childcare services to students, staff, and teachers there.
“The arrest happened at naptime, and outside of the perimeter of the CCSC campus,” CCSC assistant director Rachel Lim and director of childcare Janet Zamudio wrote in a message to parents, according to the Daily. “Children were not present when this occurred, and it did not disrupt operations.”
University spokesperson Luisa Rappaport told the outlet in an email that CCSC no longer employed Ornelas as of Friday. The murder had no connection to “the campus community,” she wrote.
“We are all shocked and distressed by this news because CCSC is a place and community that means so much to all of us,” Lim and Zamudio wrote.
A judge reportedly shifted Ornelas’ $1 million bail to no bail on Friday. Her and Novoa are expected to be arraigned May 17.
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