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Police question boyfriend's ex in killing of Dallas dentist

Crystal Cortes, 23, was charged in the murder of Kendra Hatcher.

Crystal Cortes, 23, was charged in the murder of Kendra Hatcher.  (Dallas County Jail)

Police now are looking into the possibility that the killing of a dentist in Dallas, Kendra Hatcher, last week stemmed from an order by her boyfriend's former lover.

Arrest warrant affidavits show investigators believe the boyfriend’s ex, a 33-year-old woman who has not been identified, may have orchestrated a robbery that went awry in the parking garage of Hatcher’s apartment complex.

The Dallas Morning News said Hatcher was in a relatively new relationship with dermatologist Ricardo Paniagua and was excited about it. The pair had recently taken a trip to San Francisco.

“It was a very happy time for her,” said Elene Velasquez, Hatcher’s friend and yoga instructor, according to the Morning News. “We were all happy for her. It was something she deserved.”

The ex-girlfriend was arrested over the weekend on traffic warrants and later released from the Dallas County jail. She has not been charged in Hatcher's death – a reason, the Morning News said, why police have not publicly identified her.

Another woman, Crystal Cortes, 23, was arrested Saturday and charged with capital murder in connection to Hatcher's death. She's accused of driving an unidentified man to the garage where he shot and robbed Hatcher, according police records.

Cortes is being held in the county jail on a $500,000 bond. Online jail records do not indicate an attorney for Cortes to comment on the capital murder charge.

The Morning News said that it appears, for now, that the robbery went awry and ended with Hatcher's unintended death. The ex-girlfriend dated Paniagua dated for two years and they broke up earlier this year, the Morning News said. Hatcher began dating Paniagua in the spring.

Shortly after Hatcher's Sept. 2, investigators death released an image of a Jeep Cherokee believed to be linked to the incident. The owner contacted police to say he had lent the vehicle to the former girlfriend. The woman was questioned and said she, in turn, lent it to Cortes.

Authorities say Cortes implicated Paniagua’s ex-girlfriend when she was taken into custody. She told detectives the ex-girlfriend paid her $500 to drive the unidentified man to rob Hatcher, according to the affidavits.

A .40-caliber shell casing was found inside Hatcher's car. Police seized items from Hatcher's apartment and also the apartment of the ex-girlfriend.

Friends and relatives of Hatcher, who grew up in Illinois, described her as warm and generous, 

Hatcher went to the University of Kentucky's dental school, and studied in Spain for a while, as well. She went to Ecuador to do charity dental work for children, and built homes for the poor in Florida as a volunteer, the Morning News said.

“Kendra had so much to give, and we are so thankful her 35 years were lived to the fullest,” her family said in its statement quoted by the Morning News. “We will miss Kendra tremendously, especially her laugh and smiles.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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