November 08, 2022
On the afternoon of November 05, 2022, New Mexico Police received a phone call from the mother of a man at a home on the Southwest side of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who informed them that her son had walked in on his girlfriend murdering someone in their garage.
Officers pulled up to the residence on the 5000 block of Jaguar Drive at approximately 2pm, where they soon discovered the body of a young woman in a detached garage displaying injuries consistent with sharp force trauma. Next to the body lay a bloodied 3ft metal sword.
The victim was identified as 21-year-old Grace Jennings, and according to a complaint, she had several puncture wounds consistent with being stabbed by a sword and appeared to have injuries consistent with attempts to decapitate.
A couple, Kiara McCulley, 19, and Isaac Apodaca, 25, both of whom were at the scene when authorities arrived, were arrested in connection with the murder, and each charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. McCulley received an additional charge of tampering with evidence.
McCulley initially ran from officers when they approached the residence, running into the back entrance of the home.
The apartment on Jaguar Drive was owned by McCulley's mother, and both McCully and Apodaca lived there together. The victim, Grace Jennings, was an ex-girlfriend of both McCulley and Apodaca, whom Apodaca had invited over to stay the night on Friday November 04, the day before she was murdered. According to Apodaca, Jennings had contacted him on the fourth looking for a place to stay.
Reports state that although McCulley was unhappy with the arrangement, the three slept in the same bed that night in the detached garage where the couple lived.
He went on to say that McCulley had asked them both to leave on Saturday, and said he was mostly packing his things on Saturday with the intention of leaving. He continued, saying he went to quickly use the bathroom at around midday, and upon his return, McCulley had killed Jennings with a sword, and according to Apodaca, she admitted it to him as soon as he returned to the room.
While being questioned by officers, McCulley suggested that she was hopeful the victim had died as a result of her injuries. She also told officers that she had feelings of resentment towards Jennings, and told officers that the victim had allegedly watched McCulley be gang raped by "16 or 17" men, alleging that Jennings had received money after the incident. Although it has been confirmed by police that a sexual assault was filed by McCulley in 2020, the details of the crime do not match with the claim McCulley made during her interview.
When police searched Isaac Apodaca’s cell phone with his consent, they found text messages he had sent to Kiara McCulley, encouraging her to murder Grace Jennings.
Apodaca revealed that McCulley had been planning to murder Jennings for around two years. Multiple text messages between Apodaca and McCulley showed that Apodaca had been encouraging his girlfriend to follow through with murdering Jennings and insinuating that he would clean up the evidence afterwards with hydrogen peroxide and an ice washer.
“I am wanting you to kill her, you have to end your suffering by ending her joy,” Apodaca wrote in one of the several messages he sent to McCulley between Friday 04 and Saturday 05 November.
When asked about the details of the murder, McCulley claimed that she was unable to recall as she suffered with an undiagnosed case of multiple personality disorder. She told officers that she was not sure if she was responsible for the murder.
McCulley told police that she was part of a “secret Society” called “Ghost,” of which Apodaca was the head. She claimed this organization disposed of individuals who committed crimes against children and that Apodaca told her that she would move up in position in the ranks if she was to murder Jennings.
A text message from Apodaca to McCulley read: "Remember, you'll move up the perks in the black market since this is your first."
Police have stated that they are unaware that any such organization exists, however, are investigating these claims.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, on April 5, 2022, an affidavit for an arrest warrant was filed against Apodaca by McCully, accusing him of domestic violence.
The paper also reached out to 20-year-old Lachlan Stephenson, who said he is a former boyfriend of McCulley. When asked what she was like in the relationship, Stephenson answered that she displayed troubling behaviour and would often be verbally and physically abusive, punching him, slapping him and on several occasions, burning him with cigarettes. He added that she was an "all-powerful witch" with the power to hex others, and that she believed she had supernatural powers. He told the paper that he wishes she had gotten help for her mental health issues a long time ago.
The pair dated in 2016 and 2017. Stephenson said McCulley, with Jennings in tow, came to his birthday party uninvited in 2018 and that McCulley ruined it to the point that it had to end early after she had an outburst and began screaming and shouting obscenities. Stephenson's mother was forced to call the girl’s parents to collect them that night and confirmed that her son’s account was accurate.
He saw her only once more after that, when he accidentally bumped into her in a café while she was with Apodaca. Stephenson said she retained a lot of anger towards him and threatened Apodaca would beat him up.
McCulley does not have a criminal history in New Mexico and claims she does not recall murdering Jennings.
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