Teacher at Children’s Center of the Stanford Community arrested for murder

April 28, 2023, 7:33 p.m.

A woman was arrested on Stanford’s campus on Wednesday for murder. Diana Ornelas, a 22-year-old former preschool teacher at the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community (CCSC), appeared in court Friday in connection with the homicide of 24-year-old Oliver Waterfall, whose body was found along a highway in Santa Cruz County on April 11. Waterfall had been dead for almost a month before his body was found, police said.

University spokesperson Luisa Rapport confirmed that Ornelas was employed by CCSC at the time of her arrest, but “is no longer employed there” as of Friday, in an email to The Daily. The alleged crime “did not have a connection to the campus community,” according to Rapport.

“The arrest happened at naptime, and outside of the perimeter of the CCSC campus. Children were not present when this occurred, and it did not disrupt operations,” wrote CCSC assistant director Rachel Lim and Janet Zamudio in a message informing parents about the arrest that was later obtained by The Daily.

“We are all shocked and distressed by this news because CCSC is a place and community that means so much to all of us,” they continued.

A mug shot of Diana Ornelas.
Diana Ornelas. (Photo: Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

Ornelas was arrested by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, “with assistance” from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety, Rapport wrote.

Ornelas was originally held on a $1 million bail, though a judge granted her a no-bail order. According to the Sheriff’s Department, Waterfall may have been friends with Ornelas and another man, Dennis Novoa, who was also arrested for his murder.

Ornelas and Novo are expected to be arraigned May 17.

CCSC is an independent non-profit that provides childcare exclusively for Stanford students, staff, and faculty, according to its website. The center serves over 200 children and has more than 50 staff members.

According to the Sheriff’s Office statement, an autopsy determined Waterfall’s cause of death was by gunshot wound. Firearms and ammunition are prohibited on Stanford campus and land, and the University “does not tolerate violence or threats of violence anywhere on campus or in connection with university-sponsored events,” according to Rapport.

The Daily has reached out to CCSC, the Department of Public Safety and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office for comment.

Theo Baker is the Vol. 263 Spotlight Investigations Editor. A frosh from Washington, D.C., he is the youngest ever recipient of a George Polk Award. Contact [email protected] for encrypted email. Find him on Twitter @tab_delete.Caroline Chen '26 is a Vol. 265 News Managing Editor. She is from Chapel Hill, N.C. and enjoys vegetable farms and long walks. Contact cqchen 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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