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Thursday, March 05, 2009
APD Says It Tracked Missing
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
Police Chief Ray Schultz has a file on women who disappeared between 2001 and 2005.
It's two inches thick; APD detectives have been building it for eight years.
And it only contains information "tirelessly" collected by missing persons detectives and other investigators before police began uncovering the remains of a growing number of victims on the Far Southwest Mesa.
The work detectives did then has proved invaluable as the body count in a partly developed swath of desert at 118th and Dennis Chavez SW has grown to 13, including the remains of a 4-month-old fetus.
The file contains a list of names that includes the two women who have been identified so far Victoria Chavez and Gina Michelle Valdez. The fetus would've been Valdez's third child.
Detectives began noticing a pattern of missing women who had been living a lifestyle that included struggles with drug addiction and prostitution around 2001, the chief said. The trend slowed down around 2006.
Investigators compiled a list of the women. They hit the streets where the women were known to work as prostitutes, interviewed ex-boyfriends, took homemade poster boards with pictures of the missing to the New Mexico State Fair, and collected DNA samples and dental records from the women's families. It was tough work, the chief said, because in missing persons cases involving people living criminal lifestyles, many times the missing "don't want to be found."