For the second time in less than a month, Albuquerque police are investigating what they are calling “a gruesome” slaying after a body was found in a vacant lot.
A woman’s body was found around 9:10 a.m. Thursday in southeast Albuquerque after police received a call about a disturbance, and police continue to seek leads in the homicide.
The woman was identified late Friday as 53-year-old Maryellen Gutierrez.
What police found in the lot near Decatur and Utah SE was “gruesome,” and officers are “shaken up” by what they saw, APD spokeswoman Ferris Simmons said.
On the morning of July 19, police were called to the scene of a vacant lot in northwest Albuquerque, where the bodies of two homeless men were found. The men had been beaten so badly with a cinder block and other items, they could not immediately be identified.
Three teenagers have been charged with their deaths, which has spurred several demonstrations about the plight of the homeless.
Simmons declined to say what type of weapon might have been used in the woman’s death or give any more details. She said she wouldn’t release any details of what happened to the victim because she said it could hinder the investigation, since a suspect has not been caught.
“If we interview an offender and we released information that only the offender would know, that could affect the investigation,” she said.
The victim had not been identified by police.
Simmons said police are looking for a person of interest in the homicide. She said he is 5 feet 4 inches with short hair and was wearing a red T-shirt and black jeans, and carrying a backpack. He was near Utah and Zuni between 8 and 11 a.m., police said, and anyone with information is asked to call APD at 242-COPS.
Witness Alex Marquez told KOAT-TV he was weeding when he saw a man and a woman having sex in a vacant lot near his home at Decatur and Utah. He moved to the front yard, but when he went to return his shovel, he said he saw the man bludgeoning the woman.
“I saw the individual with a stone or brick, bloodied already, bludgeoning her,” he said. He then called 911.
Noemi Reyes, who lives across the street from the vacant lot where police found the woman’s body, said she saw a man walking out of the lot and stuffing an item into his backpack around 9 a.m.
Reyes said she could not tell what the item was, but officers arrived minutes later and questioned her.
Police spotted someone near the vacant lot who matched a description provided by witnesses, and when officers approached him, he ran, Simmons said.
But after a several-hour SWAT situation in which the man, who was wearing a red T-shirt, was peacefully taken into custody, investigators determined he was not involved and released him, Simmons said.
That situation, near Zuni and Dallas, ended around 12:20 p.m.