2 arrested, including preschool teacher, after body is found near Calif. hillside
05/02/2023 3:06 pm PDT
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (TCD) -- Two people were arrested last week in connection with the death of a 24-year-old man whose body was found on a hillside near a highway.
According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, on April 11 at approximately 7 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a dead body off Highway 9 near mile marker 3.56, where they found 24-year-old Oliver Waterfall of San Jose deceased. An autopsy determined he died from a gunshot wound, and his death was ruled a homicide.
The Sheriff’s Office said investigators obtained surveillance footage and identified 27-year-old Dennis Novoa of San Jose and 22-year-old Diana Ornelas of Santa Clara as the primary suspects. Deputies arrested them April 26.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, investigators believe the motive to be of a "personal nature."
The Stanford Daily reports that Ornelas, who worked as a preschool teacher for the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community (CCSC), was arrested during nap time outside the perimeter of the campus. In a message obtained by the news source, CCSC assistant director Rachel Lim and Janet Zamudio said, "Children were not present when this occurred, and it did not disrupt operations." They added, "We are all shocked and distressed by this news because CCSC is a place and community that means so much to all of us."
Since the arrest, Ornelas was reportedly fired from her position.
Ornelas and Novoa were booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail and each charged with first-degree murder. They remain held without bail and are scheduled to be arraigned May 17.
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