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Stanford preschool teacher arrested in murder case

Pedestrians walk beneath an arch at Stanford University. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

A preschool teacher on the Stanford campus was arrested Wednesday in connection with the murder of a 24-year-old San Jose resident, according to the university and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office said deputies arrested 22-year-old Diana Ornelas of Santa Clara and 27-year-old Dennis Novoa of San Jose for the murder of Oliver Waterfall, who was found dead from a gunshot wound on April 11.

The Stanford Daily was the first to report the news of the suspect's connection to the Stanford-based preschool Children’s Center of the Stanford Community.

Stanford's Director of Media Relations Luisa Rapport confirmed Saturday that at the time of Ornelas's arrest she was employed by the preschool but that she has since been let go. The Stanford University Department of Public Safety assisted the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office in the apprehension of Ornelas.

The Children’s Center of the Stanford Community serves more than 200 families of faculty, workers and students at the university, according to its website. Rapport said in a statement that the "event that led to the arrest did not have a connection to the campus community."

The body of the 24-year-old Waterfall was found on a hillside along Highway 9 in Santa Cruz County, according to the Sheriff's Office. The suspects knew the victim and the "motive of the homicide is believed to be of a personal nature," the office said.

The arrest happened at nap time but was not within the preschool itself and children were not present, according to a communication shared with The Standard that was sent by the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community to those affiliated with the preschool.

The Sheriff's Office confirmed Ornelas was arrested on the 100 block of Comstock Circle around 3 p.m. Wednesday.