More victims? Bones discovered by construction crew could be tied to unsolved serial killing

An unsolved serial killing in New Mexico may have had more victims than previously thought, CBS News reports.

Police in Albuquerque are investigating the discovery of bones found in the same area where the bodies of nearly a dozen women were buried roughly a decade ago. A construction crew came across the bones on Tuesday, about a quarter-mile from the mass grave where the women’s remains were discovered in 2009.

The women vanished between 2003 and 2005 and most of them had been prostitutes; one was also pregnant. Police say the killer or killers could have murdered at least six other women.

No one has been arrested in the connection with the serial killing.

It’s not yet clear whether the newly found bones are human, but authorities will analyze them and any other bones they find in the area, police Chief Michael Geier said.

“We’re not 100 percent sure that this is related but at this point we’re treating it as if it’s similar to the first round,” said Geier, who led the investigation into the serial killings before becoming police chief.

Construction crews were in the process of building a park near a memorial for the known victims. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Killer said crews were trained to watch for remains and notified authorities immediately when the bones were found.

“This has been an archaeological area as well,” Keller said. “So, we certainly understand and are very concerned this might be one of the missing six to eight women from the original West Side group. However, there’s no way we can confirm that at this time.”

Locals refer to the slayings as the “West Side” or “West Mesa” murders because the graves were located on Albuquerque’s west side.

KRQE-TV reports that no one has been charged in connection with the deaths, but there are two key suspects: Lorenzo Montoya and Joseph Blea.

Montoya reportedly lived roughly one mile from the burial site. He strangled a prostitute and was in the process of moving her body to a car when the woman’s pimp shot him to death. The killings ended when he died.

As for Blea, he is a serial rapist who preyed on middle school girls in the 1980s and 1990s. He is serving a 90-year prison sentence. Among the victims in the serial killing: Jamie Barela and Syllannia Edwards, both 15, and Michelle Valdez, 22, who was pregnant.

Julie Gonzales, whose sister Doreen Marquez was murdered, told the television station that the discovery of more bones caused her heart to pound.

“It just brings it all back. Back to day one. Ten years later, back to day one,” Gonzales said. “The digging, the finding, the scraping. It’s just like, ‘wow.’”

People who live near the site said they’ve always expected more remains would be discovered.

“The eeriest part to me is to know it’s taken this long,” one neighbor said.

Federal grant money is helping the police department get technology to cross-reference tips they receive about the murders. To keep the investigation alive, the city has posted information online about the case and cards also have been printed that feature the victims.

[Feature Photo: AP/Susan Montoya Bryan, File]