Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
The footage is grainy. A radio blares from out of view.
The camera is in a cabinet in the living room of a mobile home, and it’s rolling as two women police believe are prostitutes engage in sex acts with a man.
The man is Lorenzo Montoya, a reported killer, and one of at least two men police continue to investigate in the notorious West Mesa murders, in which the bodies of 11 women were found in 2009 buried in shallow graves on Albuquerque’s West Side.
It’s likely been more than 15 years since the tape was recorded, and police have never identified the two women. But they say they are searching for them.
“We know they’re not victims out on the West Mesa, but we don’t know if they’re victims somewhere else,” APD spokesman Tanner Tixier said. “We want to make sure they’re OK.”
Police are concerned because they say Montoya, who is now dead, killed at least one woman and the details of that crime lead them to believe that woman may not have been his only victim.
Montoya, himself, was killed in 2006 while trying to dispose of the body of 19-year-old Shericka Hill, an escort he allegedly strangled in his trailer after meeting her in an online chatroom, withdrawing money from an ATM and directing her to his home.
All of the West Mesa victims went missing prior to the time of Montoya’s death.
The sex tape is one of multiple videos obtained by the Journal through a public records request earlier this year, along with dozens of documents, crime scene photos and interviews taken during the investigation into Montoya’s alleged killing of Hill in December 2006.
The evidence provides new details about how Montoya, 39, allegedly killed Hill and why investigators believe Montoya could have been a serial killer.
But it also provides insight into why police have not implicated him in the West Mesa murders.
Roll of duct tape
Police reports show Montoya had frequented prostitutes, and when investigators searched his trailer following his death, they found homemade sex tapes, along with a box of commercial hardcore porn videos.
They also found a roll of duct tape, the material used to strangle Hill.
One of the recordings shows Montoya having sex with a woman and the tape goes black. In another scene on the same tape, the camera is focused on Montoya’s bedroom wall.
The camera doesn’t capture what’s happening, but the audio captures what sounds like tape being pulled from a roll. At least one trash bag is opened and there are minutes of rustling noises.
Tixier said detectives sent that piece of audio to the FBI and other crime labs for enhancement, but experts have not been able to verify the sound is coming from tape.
“We can’t produce that in a court of law,” he said.
Tixier said detectives believe two of the women on one of the tapes are escorts and they are now trying to identify and interview them. Albuquerque police released the women’s photos after the Journal asked whether they had been interviewed.
Tixier said investigators have found some of the other women Montoya recorded.
“We have identified some of them and they’re alive and well,” he said.
The crime scene photos taken of Hill’s body, which was found outside Montoya’s trailer, reflect a methodical killing.
Hill’s legs were bound with silver duct tape, her arms pinned together behind her back and bound together with layers of tape at her wrists. Duct tape was wrapped tightly around her neck, with a strand of it extending like a leash.
When detectives searched Montoya’s trailer, they learned he kept a roll of the tape next to his bed. They found it on the bottom shelf of his nightstand.
The day before Hill was killed, receipts show Montoya went to Macy’s and Target and purchased multiple blankets and a comforter. When officers found Hill’s body, it was partially wrapped in a blue comforter.
Police believe Montoya was interrupted while trying to dispose of Hill’s body, and that’s when he was shot and killed by a man who said he was Hill’s boyfriend.
Hill’s clothing, driver’s license and an unrolled condom were in a trash bag in the trunk of a car Montoya had rented while his was reportedly being worked on.
No solid evidence
According to police reports, detectives reviewed all of Montoya’s videos two months after the West Mesa victims were found and police say they have been investigating him in the case ever since.
But Tixier said detectives haven’t been able to find solid evidence connecting him to the crime.
He said Montoya’s entire living room carpet was tested for the DNA of any of the West Mesa victims. It came back negative.
Tixier also said investigators dug through years of Montoya’s financial records from the timeframe of when the West Mesa victims went missing and didn’t find anything suspicious.
“There’s nothing tying those women back to his trailer,” he said. “Nothing in his financial records remotely connects him to the crime.”
Montoya’s family members declined to comment for this story.
Within a week of the West Mesa discovery, police also began investigating Joseph Blea, 59.
Blea is serving a lengthy sentence in state prison on two counts of rape and two counts of kidnapping in unrelated cases. Through his attorney, he has denied involvement in the West Mesa murders.
Tixier said detectives still haven’t ruled either man out.
Montoya’s previous run-ins with police have been widely reported, including an incident in which he was caught by detectives allegedly strangling and sexually assaulting a prostitute while parked near the Albuquerque International Sunport. She survived.
But details of police reports in which he is listed as a victim instead of a suspect show an odd pattern.
On five separate occasions between 1991 and 2000, Montoya reported to police that he had been inside movie theaters when his cars were either stolen, burned or vandalized with acid.
The details of each incident are remarkably similar.
Tixier said the pattern is suspicious because he might have been destroying evidence or committing insurance fraud, but detectives haven’t linked the activity to the West Mesa murders.
“Does that bother us? Absolutely. However, from what we can find, all of his vehicles being burned and stolen don’t jibe with the timeline of the women going missing,” he said.
Still, Montoya’s criminal history concerns investigators. And they’ve said since 2006 they don’t believe Hill was his only victim.
“We need those two women identified,” Tixier said. “We’re trying to figure out if they are still alive.”