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On February 2, 2009, Christine Ross was out walking her dog, Ruca, and Ruca found a bone. Now, this isn’t super uncommon, however, upon looking at the bone Christine thought it looked strange, possibly human, and she sent a text message to her sister, who is a nurse, and the return text confirmed that that was a human bone…. The police were called.

The site was owned by a land developer, however building of homes had been stalled and therefore the land sat empty… and now in early 2009 it became an excavation sight, finding not only one set of remains but 11… 12 if you count the fact that one of them had been four months pregnant. It took weeks to find all the remains, spread out in a 10X30 yard area. Some of the bodies were scattered and some were together… though all were buried without clothing or any sort of personal clothing or belongings. It took weeks to uncover all the victims and more than a year to officially identify all of them. No forensic evidence was found, they couldn’t really conclusively determine the cause of death, all in all it was a mystery.

Once the victims were found, there were things in common with many of them. Many of the girls had been involved in drugs and or sex work. Their ages were between 15-32 though a majority of them were in their twenties. Unfortunately sex workers are common targets. They live lifestyles where their families often go without hearing from them so it tends to make it longer before people are reported. However these girls lives were lived, they all had families many of them had children and they all were missed and on a list of missing persons. Their names: Monica Candelaria, Cinnamon Elks, Veronica Romero, Victoria Chavez, Michelle Valdez ( she was 4 months pregnant) , Virginia Cloven, Julie Naito, Doreen Marquez, Evelyn Salazar, Jamie Barela, and Syllania Edwards. It’s hard to find too much information on each of these victims, but I’ll give you a little bit on some of them, just to help relate to them and see that while some people disregard these victims they were just like anyone else. Monica Candelaria, had a son however she had also had a child who didn’t make it, it seems as though the child was stillborn… the pain of going through that is so rough and I can only imagine how that made her parent her son who survived . Virginia Clove had run away after her brother was killed in a shooting that later got ruled as self defense. She also had a boyfriend get hit by a car and go into a coma. Julie Nieto was close to her sister, Valarie…. who ended up overdosing two years after she went missing but before her remains were found. Evelyn Salazar was only 15 and had no record of drugs or drug work… however she was last seen going to the park with her cousin, Jamie Barela… they were family hanging out and apparently got into a situation that lost them both their lives. Doreen Marquez hadn’t lived a life of drugs and risk… it had only been the past year after her boyfriend had gone to jail that she had had a hard time and gotten into the rougher crowd. Syllania Edwards… was a victim who didn’t really fit with the others. She was a different race than the others, only 15 younger than all of them except Evelyn who had been with her cousin. She also wasn’t from the area she had run away from a foster home in Oklahoma. All these women had stories, lives, and so much ahead of them but someone brutally took away everything they have and buried them in this mass grave.

Even worse, is that some of them knew there were trouble. There had been rumors of girls going missing, even being buried. Some of the families got calls of condolences before they had even known anything was truly wrong… still hoping that their loved one just was off the radar and would one day show back up in their lives.

If the killer is still alive, and not caught, odds are they didn’t just stop and it is possible that there are other burial sites that very possibly will never be found!

Theories and Suspects: Drug cartel killings. Many of the girls were involved in drugs, so it is thought possible that the girls all had some sort of interaction with cartel and they all ended poorly.

Fred Reynolds: He was a pimp who was thought could be involved with all the girls and their killings. However he died of natural causes in January of 2009

Multiple killers, many think that since it was such a great site to get rid of evidence that several killers buried victims here.

Lorenzo Montoya: Died in 2006. Had been known to pick up prostitutes, and had a history of violence. In 2006 he killed an escort in his home, and her boyfriend found him and shot Lorenzo. He also lived less than three miles from the site.

Joseph Blea: He is a convicted rapist…. and his DNA was found on a dead prostitute in 1985 but no arrests ever came from it. His wife claims that she sometimes would find jewelry that didn’t belong to her, so it is possible this could have come from victims. A plant tag for a tree was found at the site, and this tag came from a nursery that records show Blea had purchased from.

Sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCgyuBoZI7I, https://dgomag.com/contents/4474, findagrave.com, https://www.news9.com/story/5e35b5cc83eff40362bf08ac/investigators-say-serial-killer-murdered-oklahoma-teen, https://www.abqjournal.com/community-data/west-mesa-murder-victims, https://www.abqjournal.com/community-data/west-mesa-murders-potential-suspects

https://dgomag.com/contents/4474
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