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Author Topic: Albuquerque's Murder Mystery...body count 13 / New Mexico (ALL 13 ID'd)  (Read 130929 times)
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Nut44x4
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« on: February 24, 2009, 01:01:24 PM »

Body Count in N.M. Desert Rises to 10

Investigators Unearth More Remains From An Albuquerque Construction Site

Investigators searching an Albuquerque, N.M., construction site discovered the skeletal remains of four more people today, including those of an unidentified woman and her fetus, police said.

In the three weeks since a woman stumbled upon some bones while walking her dog, police say they have discovered the bones of 10 people at the site, and they are trying to identify them and figure out who put them there.

On Feb. 17, one set of remains was identified as Victoria Chavez, 24, a prostitute last seen by her family in 2003.

It was Chavez's skeleton, along with partial remains of another, that touched off a massive search for more human remains in what is slated to become a new housing development.

Police said they are monitoring a list of missing prostitutes compiled by the missing person's unit. Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz told The Associated Press today that detectives are looking at suspects, but it's too premature to discuss them.
Chavez, 24, lived a hard life, logging arrests for prostitution and drugs. But in the months before her disappearance she had lived at home, working at a local burger joint and thinking about a career as a nurse.

"I was in denial," her mother, Mary Gutierrez, told ABCNews.com of the day she learned the bones were her daughter's. "I said, 'You must be wrong.'"

When police responded to the dogwalking woman's report, they began digging and found more bones. And the results surprised police -- they came from two different people, including Chavez. About 48 hours later, bones from a third person were found several yards away.

Since then, police and forensics experts have been at the site every day, searching the area mostly by hand and using rakes and shovels. The area totals about 92 acres, though the search has been narrowed to a few specific areas.

Police have pulled up satellite records from 2003 onward and have narrowed the search, for now, using old dirt trails that have long since been plowed over.

Albuquerque Police Officer Nadine Hamby told ABC News the area was sometimes used in the past as a place to dump trash or dead coyotes. Police have also found buried pets, including dogs and rabbits since they began searching the site.

"We found a whole Noah's Ark out there," she said.

No Suspect, Only Speculation

So far, the only full skeleton found has been Chavez's, Hamby said. The process of identifying the other two -- investigators are unsure yet even if they're male or female -- could take months or longer, she said, depending on whether there is usable DNA or dental records.

The bones were believed to have been unearthed by excavation work in the area, Hamby said, both to prepare the land for construction and to dig culverts to divert rainwater away from houses already built in the neighborhood.

It remains unclear who owns the property where police are digging. The developer was identified by police as Longford Homes, though it's company spokeswoman Susan Berger said Longford does not own that lot.


'There'll Never Be Closure'

Chavez's family, heartbroken and still trying to process the news of her death, is hoping for answers.

Gutierrez said her daughter was funny and outgoing and loved to tease family members. She said she knew her daughter was leading a dangerous life but that she learned the extent of her daughter's activities only after talking to police.

Chavez, she said, "got caught up in the world with the wrong crowd," Gutierrez said. "Things happened, but she never brought it into my house."

Gutierrez said her daughter lived with her for eight months before her disappearance.

"She was getting clean," she said. "She was getting her life together."

Gutierrez said she last saw her daughter on a night the whole family was supposed to go out together. Chavez, she said, got a call from a boyfriend and told her mom she'd meet up with them later that night. She never showed up.

Gutierrez said that when her daughter didn't come home, she assumed she'd gone back to her wild life.

"I thought, in due time -- she's done this before -- she'll call me," Gutierrez said. But that call never came and in March 2004, Gutierrez reported her daughter missing.

There are 24 adults listed as missing in Albuquerque. Hamby said police will continue canvassing the area until they are confident there are no more remains to be found there.

But knowing now where Chavez has been hasn't helped the family heal. Her daughters, now 12 and 13, are living with Gutierrez's sister. "There'll never be closure on something like this," she said. "I want justice. I want to find out who did this to her. And how she died."

http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6942996&page=1
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2009, 01:04:30 PM »

More buried bodies found in NM desert, total at 10

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Four more bodies have been uncovered from the mesa west of Albuquerque, including a fetus found inside its mother's skeleton, bringing the total remains found in the area to 10.

The search for bodies began 2 1/2 weeks ago after hikers discovered some remains in an area recently razed for a housing development.

Since then, teams of detectives, anthropologists and medical investigators have excavated an area 10 yards by 30 yards, uncovering some bones in graves and others scattered either by animals or the development project, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said Monday.

Police suspect one person is responsible for burying the bodies because of how close the bodies were found together in what was a remote area when the bodies were estimated to have been buried, between 2000 and 2005.

Only one set of remains has been identified. Those bones belonged to Victoria Chavez, whose family provided dental records when they reported her missing in 2004. They and police have described Chavez as struggling with drug addiction and working as a prostitute.

The body of the pregnant woman and her fetus were found Monday. Schultz says the remains of two other people were found Saturday.

Forensics commander Paul Feist said about 25 investigators will continue to dig at the scene until "we get everything possible."

So far, only three skulls, including Chavez's, have been recovered, making identification of the other remains difficult and time consuming, Schultz said.

Homicide Sgt. Carlos Argueta said identification of the remains could take up to a year and the investigation into the cause of death and any possible suspects even longer.

Police said they are monitoring a list of missing prostitutes compiled by the missing person's unit. Chavez was on the list of missing women with prostitution and drug connections, which begins with a woman missing in 2001 and concludes with a woman reported missing in 2006.

Schultz said detectives are looking at suspects, but it's too premature to discuss them.

However, detectives have said two names of deceased men have surfaced as possible suspects. One was killed in 2006 by a pimp who caught the man stuffing a prostitute's body into a car trunk. The other is a well-known pimp who died of natural causes in 2009 and who had pictures of missing prostitutes in his home.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jHoyOxB-E50OhIqc4aIyyfP0WNKQD96HJQA84
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 07:42:55 PM »

These some of the known missing women, let their names not be forgotten.

Darlene Trujillo missing since 2001

Sonia Lente missing since 2002

Monica Candalaria missing since 2003/BODY FOUND


Jamie Barela missing since 2004 /

Cinnamon Elks missing since 2004 /BODY FOUND


Veronica Romero missing since 2004/BODY FOUND


Victoria Chavez missing since 2004 / BODY FOUND


Michelle Gina Valdez missing since 2004 / BODY FOUND w/Fetus


Virginia Cloven missing since 2004

Doreen Marquez missing since 2004

Julie Nieto missing since 2004 / BODY FOUND


Evelyn Salazar missing since 2004
Anselma Guerra missing since 2004
Anna Vigil missing since 2005
Felipa Gonzales missing since 2005
Nina Herron missing since 2005
Shawntell Waltes missing since 2006
Leah Peebles missing since 2006

http://www.topix.com/forum/source/kob-new-mexico/TV7FGN5QNJ4GK78A8
« Last Edit: January 27, 2010, 02:49:46 PM by Nut44x4 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2009, 08:34:20 PM »


Albuquerque police say 4 more buried bodies have been found on mesa; total now stands at 10

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Four more bodies have been uncovered from the mesa west of Albuquerque, including a fetus found inside its mother's skeleton, bringing the total remains found in the area to 10.

The search for bodies began 2˝ weeks ago after hikers discovered some remains in an area recently razed for a housing development.

Since then, teams of detectives, anthropologists and medical investigators have excavated an area 10 yards by 30 yards, uncovering some bones in graves and others scattered either by animals or the development project, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said Monday.

Police suspect one person is responsible for burying the bodies because of how close the bodies were found together in what was a remote area when the bodies were estimated to have been buried, between 2000 and 2005.

Only one set of remains has been identified. Those bones belonged to Victoria Chavez, whose family provided dental records when they reported her missing in 2004. They and police have described Chavez as struggling with drug addiction and working as a prostitute.

The body of the pregnant woman and her fetus were found Monday. Schultz says the remains of two other people were found Saturday.

Forensics commander Paul Feist said about 25 investigators will continue to dig at the scene until "we get everything possible."

So far, only three skulls, including Chavez's, have been recovered, making identification of the other remains difficult and time consuming, Schultz said.

Homicide Sgt. Carlos Argueta said identification of the remains could take up to a year and the investigation into the cause of death and any possible suspects even longer.

Police said they are monitoring a list of missing prostitutes compiled by the missing person's unit. Chavez was on the list of missing women with prostitution and drug connections, which begins with a woman missing in 2001 and concludes with a woman reported missing in 2006.

Schultz said detectives are looking at suspects, but it's too premature to discuss them.

However, detectives have said two names of deceased men have surfaced as possible suspects. One was killed in 2006 by a pimp who caught the man stuffing a prostitute's body into a car trunk. The other is a well-known pimp who died of natural causes in 2009 and who had pictures of missing prostitutes in his home.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-desert-bodies-found,1,7369280.story

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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 04:27:21 PM »

 

11th set of remains
found on mesa
Published : Wednesday, 25 Feb 2009, 12:12 PM MST

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Police have discovered the remains of an 11th person on Albuquerque's West Mesa, News 13 has learned.

Police have also been able to identify a second woman they believe may have been a prostitute. Her name has not been released.

Since Feb. 1, investigators have found the remains of 11 people at a construction site near 118th Street and Sen. Dennis Chavez Boulevard SW.

At least five of the bodies are female.

Police have not released a cause of death for any of the bodies, and are hesitant to say if any were murdered.

More information on the new discoveries is expected Wednesday afternoon.

http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/crime_krqe_albuquerque_mesa_bodies_11th_set_200902251210
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 04:31:35 PM »

FBI assists West Mesa search
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29371258/
The FBI is assisting in the search for more bodies buried on a 100-acre site on Albuquerque's Southwest Mesa.

Ten bodies have been uncovered in the operation - including a fetus. The search is entering its third week.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been assisting us through the process of identifying the remains," said APD spokesman John Walsh.

About two dozen officials were working the crime scene Monday morning and Walsh says police are being rotated in and out of the operation in order to keep other cases from falling through the cracks.

"We've been rotating on a daily basis the personnel that are participating on the physical scene out on the West Mesa and that way no other case falls to the wayside," he said.

Of the ten bodies recovered, Victoria Chavez is the only one that has been identified.

Police suspect that all of the remains recovered so far are those of young women. They say they believe all of the makeshift burials were undertaken by the same person in 2004 and 2005.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation and using the agency's vast databases to attempt to identify the victims.

A portion of each set of remains is being sent to FBI laboratories in Quantico, Virginia for identification.

Police say that the search could expand beyond the original 100-acre site and could continue for months.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Deadly crime scene consumes APD commander
A high-ranking commander working the crime scene where ten bodies have now been found on Albuquerque's West Mesa is talking about the gruesome discoveries. 

APD Commander Paul Feist says he's been so consumed by the case, he hasn't been home for a dinner with his family for two weeks.

"[It's] definitely the biggest case I've ever worked on. I've been with the department [for] 22 years, by far the biggest case," said Commander Paul Feist.

For the past three weeks, Feist has set aside the pen and paperwork for a shovel.

"It is a lot of shovel and pick work, it's a lot of sifting and actually in the dirt," Feist said.

Commander Feist, who heads up an entire division of APD, has even made a few of the gruesome discoveries himself.

"I've found a couple of them, full skeletons," Feist said.

Over the past three days, investigators have found three more bodies, one of them a pregnant woman in her first trimester. Police are including that fetus in the now total number of 10 bodies.

"You know they're people. You take it home and realize that was somebody's loved one. We want to do our best to identify them and return them to their loved one," Feist said.

Victoria Chavez, a known prostitute and drug addict, is the only person identified.

Police think the other bodies are likely young women as well. Authorities believe they were all buried by the same person between 2000 and 2005.

Commander Feist says he's solely concentrating on digging and preserving evidence.

"I couldn't imagine if that'd been one of my family members or a friend that I knew, not knowing for this long and finding them in that matter, we're making sure we're taking very good care of them," Feist said. 

Police say the case has attracted so much attention, strangers are visiting the dirt lot to check it out. The police chief says anyone caught in the crime scene will be arrested.

http://kob.com/article/stories/S801500.shtml?cat=500

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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2009, 11:15:02 AM »

11th set of bones unearthed
2 now have ID's

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The second woman identified from 11 sets of bones collected from makeshift graves on the mesa should be remembers as a loving mother rather than for her rough lifestyle, he father told KRQE News 13 Wednesday.
Earlier in the day Albuquerque police revealed Jane Doe No. 8 to be Michelle Gina Valdez who was 22 when her father reported her missing four years ago. Medical investigators identified her through dental records.
"She was my daughter and didn't deserve to be buried in the desert." Dan Valdez told KRQE News 13.
Investigators digging on the West Mesa near 118th Street SW and Sen. Dennis Chavez Boulevard have now unearthed 11 sets of skeletal remains including Valdez's unborn fetus. The child would have been Dan Valdez's third grandchild.
"She was a wonderful kid," he said. "Everybody liked her and loved her.
"She was a fun person to be with, always smiling joking. Those were the good things I'll remember."
Police have hedged their comments as to the circumstances of the women's deaths and have not reported any official causes of death. However Valdez and the previously identified victim, Victoria Chavez who was last seen in June 2004, had something in common.
"Ms. Valdez does have a prior criminal history and appears she had been arrested for prostitution and drug charges," Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said at a news conference Wednesday morning. "We have identified two of the victims and able to link these two victims by having a similar lifestyle.
"Understand that these two victims at some point in time their lives crossed paths by having contact with the same individual or individuals."
Chavez also was a drug user engaged in prostitution, her mother told police when reporting the woman's disappearance.
Valdez said he wants his daughter to be remembered as a human being, a good person and a loving mother regardless of her past. She disappeared in September of 2004, and since then Valdez has been waiting for her to come home.
"Yes, I was hoping she was alive until proven otherwise," Valdez said. "I had faith in God he was going to keep her safe and bring her home one day.
"Well, He's brought her home."
Valdez added he knows one day he will see his daughter again in heaven.
He also said he is grateful for closure and knows that there are still at least eight other families of women found on the mesa waiting to receive the phone call he got last night.
The search for more bodies was called off early Wednesday because of high winds raking the bare earth of the subdivision site where a woman walking her dog found the first human bone three weeks ago.
Investigators have said they have a list of about two dozen women, many involved in prostitution, who disappeared several years ago. They have asked family members to submit medical and dental records that might help identify the remains found in southwest Albuquerque.
http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/crime_krqe_albuquerque_mesa_graves_yield_wonderful_kid_200902252325
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 11:53:31 AM by Nut44x4 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2009, 12:31:53 PM »

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
 
February 26, 2009 Thursday 
 
Pregnant Victim Identified; Body Count Reaches 11;
Both ID'd Women Were Prostitutes

Police have identified a second victim whose body was buried on the far Southwest Mesa. Police Chief Ray Schultz also announced Wednesday that the body count on the dusty, partly developed patch of mesa near Dennis Chavez and 118th SW had reached 11.

Late Tuesday, investigators unearthed another nearly complete set of remains less than 20 feet from where the 10th victim's body was found Monday morning.

Both of the identified victims were female prostitutes with criminal histories. Both were in their 20s and were reported missing less than six months apart in late 2004 and early 2005.

"We have linked two of the victims with similar lifestyles now," Schultz told a news conference Wednesday. "That gives detectives a good place to start. This is where the real work begins. At some point in time, their lives crossed paths ... whether it was each other or some other individual who was involved in their deaths."

The chief reiterated that police believe all the victims were female and were buried on the mesa by the same person, but said it would be "too premature" to say the deaths are the work of a serial killer.

The second identified victim, Gina Michelle Valdez, was pregnant when her body was buried, police say. Investigators uncovered her nearly complete skeleton, along with that of her 4-month-old fetus, on Saturday as they continued excavating what Schultz calls "one of the largest crime scenes in Albuquerque history."

The Office of the Medical Investigator identified Valdez's remains through dental records late Tuesday, Schultz said.

Her father had reported her missing in February 2005.

The first set of remains, found more than two weeks ago, belonged to Victoria Chavez, whose family reported her as a missing "prostitute and drug user" in 2004.

Chavez and Valdez were both among the names of 24 prostitutes or suspected prostitutes reported missing from 2001 to 2006, Albuquerque police Cmdr. Mike Geier said Wednesday. 
http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100020825&docId=l:932516890&start=2
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2009, 04:10:13 PM »

Mother thinks daughter buried on West Mesa

An Albuquerque mother say she thinks her daughter is one of the ten bodies found buried out on the West Mesa.
Jamie Barela was just 15-years-old when she went missing in 2004, along with her 25-year-old cousin Evelyn Salazar.
Barela and her cousin said they were headed to Wilson Park, near Kirtland Air Force Base, and said they would be back in an hour, but the two never returned.

“They were like best friends, sisters,” said Jamie's mother Jayne Barela.

When Barela's mother found out about the human remains discovered on the West Mesa, she had a bad feeling.

“Everybody is telling me to pray, but that's not getting me nowhere. I’m hearing they're finding bodies. It's just scary," Barela's mother said.

Investigators have now dug up ten bodies, including a fetus, from the 100-acre crime scene near 118th Street and Dennis Chavez.

Jayne says if her daughter is one of the bodies found, it will give her some closure.

“I'm hoping it’s her so we can go ahead with our lives and have our memorial service or whatever we need to do," she said.

Barela's mother admits her daughter was experimenting with drugs. She is also aware that Salazar had some run-ins with the law.

Court records show that Salazar had been convicted twice for dealing drugs and just three months before the two vanished, she had been convicted of prostitution.

The only body identified so far has been Victoria Chavez. Police say she was a known prostitute and drug addict.

Police think all of the bodies are likely women.

Barela's mother, who is suffering from colon cancer, says she's hoping investigators will identify the remains soon.

“Because of my cancer, I want to know if it's her because I don't know how much [time] I have in my life," Jayne said.

Investigators say they found more bones on Tuesday, but they don't think they belong to any new bodies.

Police say the search could continue for months.
http://kob.com/article/stories/S804136.shtml?cat=517
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2009, 04:15:54 PM »

OMI Takes On West Mesa Bones Mystery
As Albuquerque police continue the search for more bodies on the west mesa, the Office of the Medical Investigator has five sets of remains to identify.

Police have confirmed that bones from six bodies have been uncovered in the desert west of the city in the last two weeks. One set of bones has been identified as belonging to Victoria Chavez, a known prostitute and drug user. Chavez was last seen in 2003 and was reported missing in 2004.

The remains were uncovered in a 100-square-foot area of an under-construction housing development after police were called by hikers who found some bones.

As the case expands, there are those who hope their missing loved one can be accounted for. One of those, Toby Romero, lives right next to the dig site.

Romero said his niece, Monica Candelaria, vanished on her 22nd birthday in 2003. He said her short life was troubled by drug use, which fits the profile of missing women police are seeking.
"There was a rumor circulating at the time that she had been killed and her body buried on the west side," Romero said.

Romero said his niece, Monica Candelaria, vanished on her 22nd birthday in 2003. He said her short life was troubled by drug use, which fits the profile of missing women police are seeking.

Romero said he is resigned to the worst.

"At this time we'd just like to see my sister get some closure," he said. "She's been through a lot."

OMI will not discuss publicly details of the investigation, but professor Ozzie Pearson of the University of New Mexico's anthropology department said a major key in determining identification is finding an intact skull and matching that to dental records of the missing person.

Pearson said there are other clues as well, such as examining the pelvis for determining gender and long bones to help identify height.

Other bones could complete a rough profile.

"The size of the brow ridges, the size of the mastoid bone, the general size of the jaw and face can tell males apart from females, 90 percent," Pearson said.

In a mass burial site, identification is complicated by remains being mixed together, and unless there's damage to the remains it may be impossible to determine the cause of death.

"If a person just bled and a knife didn't cut into a bone, you might not be able to tell what caused it," Pearson said.

Pearson said determining age, sex and race can take as little as an hour. If there are dental records and a skull, a positive ID can be made in one to two days.

But, he said, if there's no scientific evidence for comparison, it could take months or years for a positive ID.

http://www.koat.com/news/18746145/detail.html
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2009, 04:19:46 PM »

Expert Offers Theory On West Mesa Remains

ALBUQUERQUE -- One crime expert says the 10 sets of human remains on the west mesa might be the end product of a "commercial enterprise."

As the body count on Amole Mesa moved from three to six to 10, the case is raising the possibility of a serial killer. While police have not used that term yet, they have indicated they think the remains are the work of a single person, who may or may not be dead.

When he's not teaching communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico, Dirk Gibson studies serial killers and has written a book on the subject with a second book in progress.
Gibson thinks Amole Mesa is the workshop of a commercial serial killer.

"A person who is not motivated by lust -- the traditional FBI profile --not motivated by revenge," he said. "They want to make some money."

Gibson points to a long list of profit-motivated serial killers, ranging from the so-called "black widow" who disposed of husbands for insurance money to mob hitmen who worked on a contract basis.

on a contract basis.

"My theory is someone knew the west mesa, it was familiar to them, not real close to their home and when they were told 'get rid of some bodies,' it was a good location," Gibson said.

Gibson added he does not think this is the work of a killer seeking 15 minutes of fame.

"This person didn't want the bodies discovered, didn't want the publicity, the clamor, the notoriety," he said.

Gibson said there most likely is no reason for the public to panic. He theorizes those buried on the mesa are victims of opportunity among the homeless or involved in drugs or crime.

http://www.koat.com/news/18788697/detail.html
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2009, 06:19:21 PM »

Google map where remains are located

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=35.031613,-106.750116&spn=0.049408,0.076904&t=h&z=14&msid=117871799462650900227.000463c52ea7c39082782

from google earth you can see the grave sites in two areas.
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2009, 01:08:16 PM »

The more they dig, the more bodies they find...

Of the 11 bodies found buried in an Albuquerque mesa only two have been identified: Michelle Valdez, top left, and Victoria Chavez, bottom left. Valdez's first trimester fetus was among the remains found.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6965497&page=1
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2009, 10:02:18 PM »

Count at 13.

Police: West Mesa Mystery Not A Current Danger

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- As of Friday afternoon, Albuquerque police have found bones belonging to 13 people buried in shallow graves on the city's West Mesa.

The discoveries at the dig site near 118th St. and Dennis Chavez Blvd. are making a lot of people nervous because there are still many questions surrounding a police investigation. People also want to know who buried the bodies and how long they have been there.

Friday morning, crews found human hair at the site and found more skeletal remains.

Neighbors said they are worried that the body was recently dumped, but authorities said that was not the case and the body has been buried for years.

People who live near the dig site also said they want to know who is responsible for dumping the bodies on the mesa, even though police said no one should be in fear of a serial killer on the loose.

Some neighbors said that's still not a comfort.

Iris Acosta said, "I am worried because it's like they are finding girls and not guys, and we can't go out anymore. I'm scared that someone is going to get us or something."

Cathrine Chacon said, "He could be around my neighborhood. He could be out in the streets. He could be burying bodies somewhere else. It is spooky. I want him to be found."

Police said they will continue looking for more bodies on the West Mesa and that their investigation is just getting under way.

http://www.koat.com/news/18814477/detail.html
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2009, 09:09:32 AM »

West Mesa investigation eyes known perps

Albuquerque police said they are looking into several possible suspects who may be responsible for the bodies buried on the West Mesa.

As searchers discovered the 13th body Friday at the site near Dennis Chavez and 118th Street, investigators said they are still unwilling to say a serial killer is responsible.

However, police also say a single person may have disposed of all the bodies they've found on the mesa.

One person police are looking at could be Lorenzo Montoya, a man killed in 2006--the same time prostitutes stopped vanishing from the streets of the Duke City.

Even back then, police said Montoya could be responsible for multiple murders.

Montoya drew the attention of police in December 2006 in what police call one of the most bizarre crimes most of them had seen.

The 39-year-old Montoya had taken a stripper to his West Side mobile home to dance for him. What Montoya didn't know is that the dancer, 19-year-old Shericka Hill, had her boyfriend waiting outside.

After an hour, the boyfriend, 18-year-old Federick Williams went to check on Hill.

Williams and Montoya then confronted each other with guns and Montoya was shot dead. Williams then found Hill dead inside the mobile home.

Police said Montoya had tied Hill up with a rope made out of duct tape. Investigators said the way the rope was made suggested Montoya had done it before.

Another reason Montoya is getting attention is how close he lived to the dig site--about two miles.

Back in 2006, there were dirt trails that led directly from Montoya's mobile home park to the dig site.

Police are careful not to say the person responsible for the recovered bodies is dead, but APD is also confident a serial killer is not on the streets of Albuquerque.

"What we are finding is that all these remains are old," APD Chief Ray Schultz said. "They have been there for a number of years now. Had we been finding fresh bodies that had been placed out on the mesa in past days or weeks, then I'd be a lot more concerned."

Police are also looking at other suspects, including a well-known pimp who died a month ago. He had pictures of missing prostitutes in his home.
http://kob.com/article/stories/s810040.shtml?cat=516
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2009, 10:18:07 AM »

More bones found in NM desert; victim total now 13
15 hours ago

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say bones from 13 victims have been recovered from a desert site west of Albuquerque that authorities have been excavating for about a month.

The death toll had been 11, but police said that further examination of the remains Thursday showed that they must have belonged to 12 victims. Police recovered a 13th body Friday.

The bones have all been dug up from an area recently razed for a housing development. A hiker made the first grisly find.

Only two sets of remains have been identified.

Authorities say 22-year-old Michelle Valdez and 28-year-old Victoria Chavez of Albuquerque both suffered drug addiction and worked as prostitutes when they were reported missing in 2004.

Police say they suspect the remains were buried by one person.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jHoyOxB-E50OhIqc4aIyyfP0WNKQD96K80N81
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2009, 10:11:42 AM »

Girl remembers mother found buried on West Mesa

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/kob-new-mexico/TMUUQ4TFQLUFV60V5
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« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2009, 05:13:31 PM »

Cold cases reopened after bodies found in desert

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In the desert outside Albuquerque, hikers have sometimes stumbled upon human remains partially buried under the hardy scrub and hard-baked dirt.

But few people could have imagined the crime scene now emerging: The bones of at least 13 people have been uncovered on the site of an abandoned housing development.

The grisly discovery last month caused authorities to reopen dozens of cold cases involving missing prostitutes, some of whom vanished as much as 20 years ago.

Since the bones came to light, forensic experts, detectives, anthropologists and medical investigators have raked tediously through mounds of dirt for the next sliver of bone or clump of human hair.

Police believe one person or group of people is responsible for the slayings, but they have been reluctant to make comparisons to any existing serial murder cases.

"We don't want to limit our investigation," Police Chief Ray Schultz said, calling the scene "one of the largest and most complex" ever investigated by his department.

So far, only two sets of remains have been identified. But detectives are reviewing cases involving dozens of women who vanished from the city over the last two decades. All of them were suspected of being drug addicts and prostitutes. Of particular interest are 16 women reported missing between 2001 and 2006.

The two bodies identified so far were Michelle Valdez and Victoria Chavez, both women who disappeared within months of each other in 2004.

Chavez was about 28 when she vanished, leaving behind a daughter. Valdez was 22, with two children and another on the way.

Valdez's mother, Karen Jackson of Myrtle Beach, S.C., said her daughter struggled with addiction and worked as a prostitute during periods when she would disappear without any explanation. But she would always resurface to get a hug or money from her father, share a laugh with her sister or call her mom.

Valdez's body and that of her fetus were unearthed Feb. 23. No cause of death has been determined.

Jackson said she was devastated to learn her daughter's fate after years of silence and searching.

"I wanted closure, but not this," she said. "My heart goes out to the rest of the families of the missing women."

The family of Leah Peebles, who is on the list of 16 missing women, is devastated by the discovery but holding out hope.

"I don't think she's out there. I really don't," Peebles' mother, Sharon Peebles, said from her home in Fort Worth, Texas. "I have fear and start worrying ... but until I hear otherwise, I feel she is alive."

Still, after two other women on the list were found in the desert, it's getting harder for Peebles and her husband to keep the faith.

"I want some conclusion, but I don't want that," she said.

Leah Peebles, 24, moved to Albuquerque just months prior to her disappearance. She was trying to start a new life free of drugs and the history of sexual molestation and assault that haunted her in her hometown. Her parents reported her missing in May 2006.

The first remains were discovered Feb. 2, when a woman walking her dog found a human rib bone on the site of a subdivision under construction.

The area had been abandoned when homebuilder KB Home ended its operations in New Mexico, leaving a cinderblock wall surrounding mounds of dirt, a drainage pond and a few retaining walls.

Before construction crews left the site in early 2008, many of the bones were damaged by earth-moving equipment that scattered the remains across 100 acres surrounding the concentrated burial site.

The tedious police work at the site has been creeping along seven days a week, drawing curious spectators from nearby neighborhoods.

Schultz said a task force of 40 detectives is checking leads and reviewing missing-persons reports.

"Everyone has taken a personal stake in this," he said. "We don't think anybody is a throwaway person."
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jEQrHFS2Rc_0uKM8CVFtO8JNKRiQD96M4IKG0
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2009, 07:15:17 AM »

FBI profiler joining mesa graves case

Perez family still seeking closure

Updated: Monday, 02 Mar 2009, 11:31 PM MST
Published : Monday, 02 Mar 2009, 11:29 PM MST

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Agents from an elite FBI unit are about to get involved in the investigation that so far has unearthed 13 sets of skeletal remains in a once-remote area of Albuquerque's west mesa.

In the last month Albuquerque police have found the remains of 12 adults and an unborn fetus buried in an area now being developed for a subdivision. Two have been identified as young Albuquerque women last seen in 2004.

No causes of death have been reported, and police have been reluctant to refer to a serial killer other than to say one is not on the loose in the city today.

The FBI has joined the investigation into to who may have dumped the bodies in the sandy graves and believes the people were murdered likely by a serial killer.

This week, someone from the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Va. will either come to Albuquerque to look at the details of the case or the files will be sent out to the profiler in Virginia.

"Our experts have the advantage of being able to study every serial killer in the country and find out the common themes that these guys have," FBI Special Agency Steve Marshal told KRQE News 13. "It's not an exact science.

"Occasionally they're completely off on what a profile is, but it gives us a place to start."

The profiler will look at all the similarities of the deaths. The two women identified so far both had histories of drug abuse and prostitution.

"How these women were chosen as victims is going to be very important," Marshal said. "How they were killed is going to be very important; where they were found is going to be very important."

Albuquerque investigators compiled a list of at least two dozen women, many involved in prostitution, who disappeared at from about 2000 to 2005. They have not speculated in public about what may have happened but have mentioned one man shot to death after killing a prostitute and a known pimp found to have pictures of some of the missing women after he died of natural causes.

Meanwhile the uncertainty and the massive media coverage of the case have been tough on the families of the known victims and on the families of other missing women.

"It's been a really hard day," Liz Perez of Albuquerque told News 13. "Today my grandson came home from school and saw the newspaper on top of the table and started asking me a lot of questions."

Questions like why is a picture of his mother on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal in an article about missing women and the dig for more bodies on the west mesa?

"I don't have the answers," Perez said.

The unanswered question is what happened to Darlene Trujillo who left her son with his grandmother in 2001?

It left a hole in his heart "'cause my mom's not here," Chris Perez said.

For Perez, 11, the digging on the other side of town unearths memories. When he was a toddler his mother went to Arizona with a boyfriend and never returned.

Her family held vigils trying to raise money for a private investigator to look into her disappearance and still hope she's not among the women unearthed from the mesa.

"I don't feel that Darlene is one of those women is up there because she left with a guy from Mexico," Perez said. "Darlene was not what they're saying these other girls were.

"I just hope we find closure" Trujillo continued. "I want my grandson to know what happened to his mom, where she's at."

The family believes Trujillo is being held against her will in Mexico and blames Albuquerque police for not doing enough to find her.

For their part investigators said they did look into the disappearance and listed her as a missing person. However hundreds of adults are reported missing in Albuquerque every year.

Many simply run away and the cases go cold.
http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/crime_krqe_albuquerque_fbi_profiler_joining_mesa_graves_case_20090302

Darlene Trujillo's picture was on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal Monday.
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2009, 07:26:47 AM »

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
 
March 2, 2009 Monday 
 
LOST WOMEN;
Don't These Cases Deserve a Deeper Look?
 
A friend of mine whose husband works for a local TV news station told me last week that, when the identity of a second woman unearthed from the mass grave on the Southwest Mesa was released, he, like every other reporter, tried to lock down the requisite interview with the woman's grieving family.

The relatives said no.

They were angry, my friend said, because they had never forgotten that, four years before, the TV station had refused their plea for a little airtime to help them find the missing woman.

I don't know the reason for the station's dismissive stance then, but I can guess. Gina Michelle Valdez, 22, wasn't big news to them. She wasn't a blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American college student inexplicably snatched from the nice part of town. No, Valdez lived - and, likely, died - on the dark, desperate fringes where death comes more easily, less lamentably. In her brief adulthood, she had amassed several charges both here and in Arizona for drug possession and prostitution. Her last arrest, on the Fourth of July 2004, was for a charge of aggravated assault. No one cared, some editor must have
wagered, whether she ever showed up again. Except for those who loved her, who knew she was more than her rap sheet, more than someone who had fallen too far, too fast. She had mattered to them even before she became Jane Doe No. 8, a dead pregnant woman and one of 13 bodies and counting, buried in what has become the biggest crime scene in Albuquerque's history, the repository for an apparent prolific serial killer's handiwork and a gruesome sound bite for CNN, ABC, Fox News and other national media. (By the way, just how many bodies need to be dug up before the Albuquerque Police Department is comfortable with the term "serial killer"? Just asking.)
The TV station certainly isn't alone in its easy dismissal of society's less-thans. During my days as a cop reporter at the Albuquerque Tribune, I remember being admonished by an editor to remember that crime was only news if she could imagine it happening in her own backyard. Of course, her backyard was situated in a swanky, saltillo-tiled enclave outside Santa Fe. Short of tax evasion or insider trading schemes, that didn't leave a whole lot for me to cover. So, as was typical of me (then), I ignored her. It always seemed to me that we journalists owe it to the public not to make such swift and elitist judgments for fear we might miss a truly compelling story about a truly remarkable person. Granted that's typically not the case for a majority of those whose lives end in violence. Still, you can't help but wonder whether the body count on the Southwest Mesa might not have gone so high had someone besides the families of the lost taken a second look. At least one woman had, though. For several years, Detective Ida Lopez of the Albuquerque Police Department's missing persons unit has been collecting the names and faces of women who disappeared into the rough world of prostitution, drugs and violence, then disappeared altogether.

Gina Michelle Valdez and Victoria Chavez, the first women to be identified from among the remains on the mesa, were both on that list.

I've included a list of the others, all gone since 2001. And I added a few more, including Teresa Reyes, a 17-year-old bipolar Albuquerque girl last seen in her family's Southeast Heights home in 1998. She's another one of those missing persons whose case gathers dust but no leads. Go ahead. Google their names. You won't find much except family generated blogs and Web sites maintained by various missing persons organizations, such as the Charley Project and the North American Missing Persons Network.

They're out there somewhere, and maybe they are out there on that mesa. Either way, maybe it's time to take a second look. 
http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100020825&docId=l:934366111&start=16

CHAVEZ: First body to be identified
VALDEZ: Was pregnant when she died
DARLENE MARIA TRUJILLO (2001)
SONIA BERNADETTE LENTE (2002)
MONICA DIANA CANDELARIA (2003)
JAMIE BARELA (2004)
CINNAMON ELKS (2004)
LEAH RACHELLE PEEBLES (2006)
VIRGINIA ANN CLOVEN (2004)
DOREEN MARQUEZ (2004)
JULIE CYNDIE NIETO (2004)
ANSELMA GUERRA (2004)
EVELYN JESUSMARIA SALAZAR (2004)
ANNA VIGIL (2005)
SHAWNTELL WAITES (2005)
NINA HERRON (2005)
FELIPA GONZALES (2005)
TERESA REYES (1998) VERONICA ROMERO (2004, not pictured) SOURCES: Albuquerque Police Department, The Charley Project, North American Missing Persons Project
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