Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Third West Mesa Victim Identified
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
A third woman has been identified as one of the 13 bodies found buried on the West Mesa, and she was friends with two of the other victims, family members said Tuesday.
Detectives went to the home of Diana Wilhelm on Tuesday evening and told her dental records confirmed that her daughter, Cinnamon Elks, is among the dead.
"Now we know," said Wilhelm, who said she had believed Elks was dead since she disappeared in 2004. Elks was 31 at the time.
Victoria Chavez and Gina Michelle Valdez were the first two women identified, and the women's parents said both had been friends with Elks.
The names of all three women were on a list of women who disappeared between 2001 and 2005. Women on the list are known to have struggled with drug addiction and prostitution, police have said.
Elks had been arrested on charges of prostitution or criminal solicitation 19 times, and had been found guilty 13 times, according to court records. She had also been charged with drug possession a dozen times and found guilty five times.
Elks was most recently arrested in July 2004. Her mother first reported her missing the next month, when she didn't receive a call from Elks on Wilhelm's August birthday.
"I knew something was amiss," Wilhelm said. She said she called police but was told that as an adult, Elks had a right to cut contact with her family. Wilhelm said she called several times before anyone told her to fill out a missing persons report.
"Nobody cares about these girls that are out there on the street," Wilhelm said.
Police spokesman John Walsh did not confirm that Elks had been identified and did not comment on this case. But Police Chief Ray Schultz has said searching for missing people who lead a criminal lifestyle is difficult because they often don't want to be found.
Elks' body was the 12th to be found at the site near 118th and Dennis Chavez SW.