West Mesa Serial Murders

Ten years have passed since the grisly discovery of serial graves that put Albuquerque in the national headlines. Police, local leaders and the victims’ families are still looking for a resolution to the West Mesa murders.

Since that cold February day in 2009 when the first remains of 11 women were discovered buried on the West Mesa, Albuquerque Police have spent countless hours investigating the case. They have yet to name a perpetrator, although they’ve named two suspects– one deceased, one in prison.

APD spokesman, Gilbert Gallegos, said the case is still considered active and that police receive numerous tips.

“One of the misconceptions is that it is a cold case, but it is actually considered an active case,” Gallegos said. “We get hundreds of tips some weeks that are worth actively pursuing.”

There are other women who went missing around the same time as the West Mesa murder victims. Gallegos said that APD is looking for a second burial site.

“We know there were six women reported missing around the same time period, who are potentially victims and have not been discovered,” Gallegos said.

In November, APD got a tip of disturbed property on the West Mesa, which led to short-lived hope that perhaps new evidence was discovered, but nothing came of it.

Similarly, over the summer, a set of bones was discovered close to the original West Mesa burial site. The discovery had officers speculating the bones were related to the murders, but it was found that they were ancient Native American bones.

The remains discovered in 2009 were identified as those of the following women, all of whom disappeared between 2001 and 2005:

  • Jamie Barela, 15
  • Monica Candelaria, 22
  • Victoria Chavez, 26
  • Virginia Cloven, 24
  • Syllania Edwards, 15
  • Cinnamon Elks, 32
  • Doreen Marquez, 24
  • Julie Nieto, 24
  • Veronica Romero, 28
  • Evelyn Salazar, 27
  • Michelle Valdez, 22

According to satellite photos, the last victim was buried in 2005.