118th Street Serial Killer Albuquerque, NM

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AKA West Mesa Bone Collector

On February 2, 2009, Christine Ross and her dog Ruca left their home on Albuquerque’s west side to go for a walk. Ruca found a large bone protruding from the earthen trail.

Christine felt that the bone didn’t look normal. She took a picture of it and then sent a text message to her sister, a registered nurse. A little while later, Christine’s sister contacted her and told her that the bone resembled a human femur.

Christine immediately notified the Albuquerque Police Department and it was quickly determined that the bone was in fact human. During the ensuing weeks, detectives uncovered the skeletal remains of 11 women and one unborn child, all buried in makeshift graves.

Forensic investigators have now identified all 11 victims. Ten of the victims; Monica Candelaria, Victoria Chavez, Virginia Cloven, Syllannia Edwards, Cinnamon Elks, Doreen Marquez, Julie Nieto, Veronica Romero, Evelyn Salazar, and Michelle Valdez; all have a common link. They have ties to both drugs and prostitution. The eleventh victim, Jamie Barela, has no known involvement in these particular activities.

Four of the eleven victims were identified within the last three months.

Using a sketch and dental records, the Office of the Medical Investigator identified Syllannia Edwards on November 13, 2009.  Law enforcement authorities in Lawton, Oklahoma had classified her as an endangered runaway and reported her missing in 2003. In May of 2004, Edwards had been seen associating with prostitutes on East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, Colorado. She may have been staying at the Ranger Motel. Edwards was seen in the company of three other women: Lucretia, Ty and Diamond. She might have been using the nicknames “Mimi” or “Chocolate.” Edwards was 15 years old when last seen.

Using DNA evidence, forensic experts at the University of North Texas identified the remains of Virginia Cloven and Evelyn Salazar on November 17, 2009.  Both women were reported missing in 2004 and are from the Albuquerque area.

The eleventh victim, 15 year old, Jamie Barela, was identified on January 26, 2010. She was last seen leaving a family gathering with her cousin, Evelyn Salazar, during the month of April 2004. Salazar had been identified as victim of the serial killer approximately two months earlier. Both young women were heading to a park near San Mateo and Gibson in southeast Albuquerque when they disappeared.

Detectives are currently looking for leads and would like to know more about the victims. Investigators would like to hear from women who may have been working the streets of Albuquerque between 2001 and 2005, or anyone who may have solicited the victims during that period of time.