February 2, 2009
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The first of 11 bodies is discovered in the West Mesa area of Albuquerque
The discovery was made by a woman who, while walking her dog, found a human bone which she reported to police. Over the course of a year, police were able to identify all 11 victims whose ages ranged from 15 to 22. Only one victim, Syllania Edwards, was from out of state, and was the only black victim. Another victim, Michelle Valdez (22), was 4 months pregnant at the time of her murder; the fetus’s skeletal remains were found in the burial grounds as well. Most victims were sex workers or involved in drugs.
The victims had been murdered between 2001 and 2005. In 2006, city development began in that area which is possibly why the killer abandoned that particular burial spot. Though police investigated several possible suspects who may have been the “West Mesa Bone Collector,” no arrests have been made at this time. Two of the suspects have died including a pimp who knew one of the missing sex workers and who died of natural causes in 2009. Another was a man who lived near the burial location, who allegedly had tire tracks leading from his trailer to the burial site. Additionally he had met a 19-year-old in a chat room, coerced her to his trailer for “a dance,” and strangled her to death. The woman’s boyfriend found her body shortly thereafter and fatally shot the suspect in December 2006.