Two investigators stand on a massive pile of earth that was excavated in the search for human remains at a 100-acre site near 118th and Dennis Chavez SW in February 2009. (Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal)
In mid-2005, Albuquerque police detective Ida Lopez noticed that women with ties to drugs and prostitution had been vanishing from Albuquerque.
She started a list.
Ten of the missing women — Monica Candelaria, Cinnamon Elks, Veronica Romero, Victoria Chavez, Michelle Valdez, Virginia Cloven, Julie Nieto, Evelyn Salazar, Jamie Barela and Doreen Marquez — were found buried on the mesa in 2009, along with Syllannia Edwards, who hadn’t been reported missing in Albuquerque.
It would take police nearly a year to identify all the remains. As they did so, they dug into the victims’ pasts in the hopes they could find the killer.
Families of the missing women in Albuquerque seemed to already know their daughters, mothers, sisters were buried and began leaving memorials before all the women were even identified.
Their families remember the happier sides of them — many knew each other, had