Jealousy is a complex emotion. Not only does it plague people from all walks of life, but it can also have some really damaging consequences when a person decides to act upon their impulses. In an unfortunate turn of events, Kendra Hatcher became a victim of a murder for hire plot that was fuelled by emotion. The case has been discussed in ‘Dateline: 10 Minutes of Sunset,’ and in this article, we revisit the facts once again.
How Did Kendra Hatcher Die?
Kendra Hatcher was a 35-year-old pediatric dentist who was killed on September 2, 2015. She was shot at the back of her head in the parking garage of Gables Park 17, a luxurious high rise apartment building in Dallas, Texas, where she lived. At that point in time, she was dating Dr. Ricardo “Ricky” Paniagua, a dermatologist who was working as an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
The dentist was born and raised in a small town called Pleasant Plains in Illinois. Her mother, Bonnie Jameson, owned and operated a quilt shop. Kendra was athletic in high school. She was the captain of her high school cheerleading squad and the girls’ volleyball team. She also gave back to the community by hosting Bible study sessions for the less fortunate children. In fact, she would even go on trips abroad to help build churches.
As far as her education was concerned, Kendra attended DePauw University. Her major was Spanish and her minor was biochemistry. Following this, she enrolled at the University of Kentucky, in the College of Dentistry. Tami Pantano, a classmate, said, “She was the most generous, giving friend. You could call her at three a.m., and she would answer without any hesitation. Her laugh was contagious—high-pitched and full of joy.”
The couple had started dating in the spring of 2015, and their social media revealed how in love they were. In fact, they were even contemplating starting a wedding fund. It is noteworthy that Kendra had previously been married to her college sweetheart, but they had since separated. She was charmed by Ricky after reading his Tinder profile. He later said, “Things progressed quite rapidly. Our values were matched. Our interests were really in sync right from the get-go.”
But a pertinent fact that is central to the case is that Ricky had broken up with Brenda Delgado. Shortly after this, he dated Kendra, and their relationship did not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Although the exes had a platonic connection even after separating, nobody knew that something more sinister was at play. So how exactly did jealousy contribute to the murder? Let’s find out.
Who Killed Kendra Hatcher?
By now, you must have figured out that Brenda was the mastermind behind the murder-for-hire plot that took Kendra’s life. Here is the much-needed context to fill in the gaps. Before Ricky and Kendra got together, he was involved with Brenda from fall 2012 to summer 2014, and then again from November 2014 to February 2015. Over the course of this time, he had given his ex a promise ring. Brenda had even gotten pregnant but chose to go through with an abortion.
Everyone who knew Brenda knew how obsessed she was with Ricky. So when he called things off, this infatuation took a darker turn, and slowly, she started breaking apart. Brenda had access to Ricky’s emails and his iCloud password as well. Apart from this, Brenda had an app that would let her track her ex’s location. One by one, she approached the people in her life to exact revenge on Kendra and hopefully win Ricky back.
Later, at Brenda’s trial, Jennifer Escobar, a former friend and roommate, stated, “She was really obsessed with him.” She added, “For Kendra Hatcher, she wanted an injection needle to put into the back of her neck. She just wanted to eliminate Kendra Hatcher or even both of them.” Ultimately, Brenda zeroed in on a 23-year-old single mother named Crystal Cortes, who agreed to help out the jilted ex.
Cortes, who hailed from a financially poor background, stated that she looked up to Brenda. Furthermore, the single mother was offered $500 by the dental hygienist student to help with the murder scheme. While Cortes was the getaway driver that night, the person who actually pulled the trigger was Kristopher Love. It was his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol that was used to shoot Kendra. On the day that Kendra was murdered, Cortes drove Brenda to the public library, where the latter had arranged a study date with a classmate.
Later, she picked up Kristopher, and the two accomplices waited across the street from where the dentist worked. (Around 2:30 pm, Cortes had gone to pick her son up and returned after completing some work). At the time of the murder, Brenda was having drinks with Jose Ortiz, a friend and an auto repair shop owner who had given the perpetrator the black Jeep that Cortes was driving around. The police questioned Brenda for a while, but she did not say anything about her involvement in the case. At one point in time, she even fled to Mexico and lived with her family members.
That is when she appeared on the FBI’s most-wanted list. However, it is no surprise that authorities caught her and eventually brought her back to the U.S. Brenda was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder-for-hire plot. Kendra’s mother told the indicted, “You could’ve never measured up to be the woman that my daughter Kendra Hatcher was.” Love is currently on Texas’ Death Row, whereas Cortes was offered a 35-year sentence in exchange for testifying against her comrades.
Read More: Where is Ricky Paniagua Now?