Sheriff's officials looking for motive in deadly Aptos High School stabbing

Santa Cruz County sheriff’s investigators are continuing their search for a motive in a deadly high-school campus stabbing.

Aptos High sophomore Kaley Hadland, Wednesday, collected her backpack and other belongings at the school’s front gate. Those items, and others, had been held by police following a fatal stabbing on-campus a day earlier.

"It felt like at that moment, everything became, like real and I finally realized this is a serious thing," said Hadland, as she stood near her mother’s watchful eye.

Santa Cruz County sheriff’s investigators said around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies responded to reports of a stabbing. A 17-year-old was found wounded near the school’s swimming pool, and was rushed to an area hospital. But he died from his injuries. Officials said they are not releasing his identity since he’s a minor.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said some students may have evidence of the crime on their electronic devices.

"Anybody who viewed this horrible event is strictly a witness. And we just want their statement and any data that they may have," said Hart.

Aptos High is closed for two days while district officials try to guide students through a difficult time.

Investigators said two fellow students, a 14-year old freshman and a 17-year old senior, both unidentified, have been booked into juvenile hall and are charged in the fatal stabbing.

"The kid was in there for about 40 minutes, sitting with us, and then they handcuffed him. And that’s when it started to feel real. Because we were actually close to one of the suspects," said Hadland.

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District sent a letter Wednesday to its community, reading in part, "The death of our student at Aptos High School is a loss that impacts each of us profoundly. Our district is mobilizing extensive resources and services to support and care for our community…"

"This is probably going to be something that’s looked at in an ongoing way," said Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante. "Sometimes these stresses kind of linger on."

For Hadland, the first few weeks after her transfer from private school to public school have been memorable – in ways few have experienced, or would want.

The PVUSD is holding a community forum at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Officials said more information will be provided, as well as what to expect going forward.

Sheriff’s officials said the two suspects in this case, both of whom are minors, could be arraigned on murder charges as soon as Thursday.