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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Remains of 3 Found on West Mesa
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
Authorities working one of the largest violent crime scenes in recent memory on the West Mesa have discovered the remains of three women that Police Chief Ray Schultz says were likely put there by the same person.
One victim, a woman in her 20s who was from Albuquerque, was found last week in a shallow grave near 118th and Rio Bravo in what used to be an expanse of desert, Schultz said Monday. Her identity was not released pending notification of next of kin.
As police worked the scene, they found partial remains of two other females in the area, which is now being developed by KB Home, he said.
"We don't know for sure, but we have come to believe that the same individual is responsible for this," the chief said at a Monday evening news conference. "Whoever did put these bodies out there was obviously very familiar with the area. There is very limited road access there."
He said the woman who has been identified was buried in 2003 or 2004. Detectives believe that the other two women were taken to the mesa around the same time.
Because of the age and condition of the remains, it will take the Office of the Medical Investigator longer than usual to complete autopsies and determine causes of death.
Police have been searching the area since Feb. 2, but their investigation has been slowed by the development, Schultz said. Also complicating the matter has been the discovery of animal bones.
APD has had help from cadaver dogs, University of New Mexico researchers who have provided topographical maps, and satellite maps from Sandia and Los Alamos labs. Detectives are trying to reconstruct what the area looked like at the time the victims were buried there.
Detectives are using a database of females who have disappeared in the last decade-plus, Schultz said. They are focusing on 24 women in the database, 17 of whom they have dental records for. Authorities used dental records to identify the woman who was found in the shallow grave.