Stanford Employee Arrested for Homicide After Man’s Body Found in Santa Cruz County

Two South Bay residents have been arrested in the alleged murder of a 24-year-old man whose body was found off Highway 9 in Santa Cruz County, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspects arrested on April 26 have been identified by the sheriff as 27-year-old Dennis Novoa of San Jose and 22-year-old Diana Ornelas of Santa Clara. Ornelas before her arrest was working as a preschool teacher at the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community, according to the Stanford Daily.

The death was first reported on April 11, when deputies were called to a report of a body down a hillside of Highway 9 near mile marker 3.56, the sheriff’s office said. A coroner identified the victim as Oliver Waterfall of San Jose. An autopsy found Waterfall died of a gunshot wound and investigators ruled the death a homicide, according to the sheriff’s office.

“After interviews with people who had last seen the victim, Mr. Waterfall, and conducting surveillance and through the investigative process, they were able to make those arrests of those two people,” said Ashley Keehn, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s spokesperson.

The sheriff said the suspects and victim knew each other, adding a motive in the homicide appears to be of a personal nature.

“The exact motive is still under investigation, but it does appear to be that this was targeted and it was of personal nature, that the victim was targeted by these suspects,” said Keehn.

In a statement, Stanford said it does not tolerate violence or threats of violence on campus or in connection with university-sponsored events.

In its own statement to families, the center said the arrest was made during nap time, around the perimeter of the child care center, and that no children witnessed the arrest.

Anyone with information on the murder should contact detective Sgt. Simpson at 831-454-7702.

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