Thursday, November 19, 2009
Police Tip: Victim Was in Denver
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
Investigators are looking for help from police and the public in Denver to figure out how one of the West Mesa murder victims made it to Albuquerque.
Syllannia Edwards, a 15-year-old runaway who was reported missing from Lawton, Okla., in 2003, had spent time in the Denver area during the spring and early summer of 2004, according to a tip Albuquerque police received this week.
Edwards' remains were uncovered from a shallow grave in a patch of the Far Southwest Mesa near 118th and Dennis Chavez SW earlier this year. So were the remains of 10 other women, one of whom was four months' pregnant when she was likely strangled and buried on the mesa.
Ten of the women have been identified through dental records and DNA. Edwards became the eighth woman identified when officials released her name last week.
Police believe the women's deaths were the work of a serial killer. The list of suspects has been narrowed to a small handful as detectives have painstakingly interviewed potential witnesses, served search warrants and fielded tips since early February.
One of the more recent tips came this week via a telephone call to 1-877-SOLV-APD, police spokeswoman Nadine Hamby said Wednesday.
The tipster said Edwards had been in the Denver/Aurora, Colo., area in May 2004. She was seen on East Colfax Street and in an area motel.
"They were high-prostitution areas," Hamby said. "And we've received information that Syllannia was associated with three other females and that she may have gone by the aliases Chocolate or Mimi."
All nine of the other identified victims had histories of substance abuse and prostitution.
Albuquerque police reached out to a Denver TV station Wednesday, Hamby said. The station aired a story about Edwards and the West Mesa murder mystery Wednesday evening.
Among the clues associated with Edwards that appeared on the TV station's broadcast was a hand-painted acrylic fingernail that was found with her remains. Police released a photograph of the nail to Albuquerque media in April in the hopes that a local nail technician would recognized the work.
"Now we're hoping to hear from the nail salons in Denver," Hamby said.