“She is probably one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.”

UNM Student Shanta Hanish was remembered by her friend Donald Roberts just a couple days after both her and her mother Laura Hanish were discovered by Albuquerque detectives stabbed to death in their home on Friday, June 21.   

“I’m pretty shocked, honestly. The last time I saw her was on campus… like a quick little catch-up kind of thing — nothing too long.” Roberts said. “But that was the last time I saw her and I didn’t really think much of it.” 



An arrest warrant was issued on Saturday for Jesus Cartagena, 20 for the homicide of the two women. According to the documents, the warrant was issued shortly after Cartagena turned himself into El Paso police claiming he had “done something bad in Albuquerque." He is currently being held by El Paso authorities. 

The arrest warrant said Shanta Hanish was in an approximately 5-year relationship with Cartagena before reportedly ending the  about two weeks prior to the homicide. 

According to interviews obtained during the investigation, Cartagena was taken to hospital to be evaluated for mental health after threatening to commit suicide the week before the homicide occurred. 

The day before the homicide Shanta Hanish reportedly sent her close friend, Elizabeth Snyder, a text informing her that she would be turning off her cellphone. 

“I’m turning off my phone because Jesus keeps calling me. I’m not dead. I’m alive,” the text said as reported by the official arrest warrant for Cartagena.

Snyder saw Shanta Hanish the following afternoon after the text was sent at Highland pool, were both women worked. Snyder remained with her until her shift ended that night.  

Alarm was raised by their coworkers after neither Shanta Hanish or her mother Lauren Hanish arrived to their workplaces on Friday morning. Lauren Hanish’s coworkers reportedly went to the Hanish residence to check on her after they attempted to call her multiple times.  After arriving, they discovered the women on the floor of the residence and called the police. 

Police reported they found a window near the kitchen with the glass “clearly shattered” as well as Shanta’s vehicle missing from the driveway. U.S. Border Patrol reported Shanta Hanish’s vehicle driving south on I-25 on Friday, after the homicide occurred. Cartagena’s vehicle was located unoccupied about a block away from the crime. 

Roberts had worked with Shanta Hanish at Highland pool as a lifeguards and described both her and her mother as “super active in the swim community.” 

Roberts remembered one of his first encounters with both Shanta and Lauren Hanish shortly after he began working at the pool. 

He said that he was hungry and had not brought his lunch that day when Shanta Hanish offered him dinner. When Roberts got off of his shift that day, he met with both Shanta and Lauren Hanish at their home where they cooked him food. 

“Cooked up...I believe it was ramen of all things,” Roberts said. “Just ate some ramen, hung out and chatted.” 

He said few people had the impact Shanta Hanish did. 

“I don’t meet a lot of people like her,” Roberts said. “So, the fact that she was taken away abruptly was like, it doesn’t make any sense.” 

Justin Garcia contributed reporting to this article.