Bones found in New Mexico may be linked to unsolved killings, burials of 11 women

Albuquerque police said Tuesday that a construction crew found human bones near the site where the remains of 11 women were unearthed in 2009 -- raising the possibility that there are more victims of an unsolved serial killing that has haunted the city for 15 years.

The bones turned up on the city's West Mesa, less than a mile from the mass grave where the remains were found nine years ago.

Evelyn Salazar, (l.), was 27, when she was last seen at a family gathering in April of 2004. She was a cousin of Jamie Barela, whose remains were also found at the site. Cinnamon Elks, (r.), was 32 when she disappeared.

West Mesa murder victims Evelyn Salazar, left, and Cinnamon Elks.

Investigators have said that nearly all the West Mesa victims, who were between the ages of 15 and 32, worked as prostitutes before they disappeared between 2003 and 2005. According to the Albuquerque Journal, police have said there may be a second burial site after more women with similar backgrounds disappeared in 2005 and 2006.

The West Mesa victims included Jamie Barela, a 15-year-old who was last seen by her family in 2004. Buried with her were Syllannia Edwards, 15, a runaway from Lawton, Okla., and Michelle Valdez, 22, who was pregnant.


Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier told reporters the bones and other remains would be analyzed and tested, a process that could take months.

"We're not 100 percent sure that this is related but at this point we're treating it as if its similar, to the first round," said Geier, who admitted that the scene felt like "deja vu."

Jamie Barela (l.), was just 15 when she disappeared. She was last seen at a family gathering in April, 2004. Monica Candelaria was 22 when she disappeared. Police believe she was killed between 2003 and 2005.

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Barela, left, was a cousin of Evelyn Salazar. At right, victim Monica Candelaria

"It looks like a burial," he said. "There's enough there to cause concern."

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller told reporters a small stream used to run between the first burial site and the area where the remains were found Tuesday. He added that construction crews working in the area had been told for years to keep an eye out for human remains.

"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."

In a statement, Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña said the bones were found at a park being built near the site of a memorial for the women and unborn child found buried on West Mesa.

Virginia Cloven, (l.), was 24 when she disappeared in 2004. Syllannia Edwards, (r.), was a 15-year-old runaway from Lawton, Okla., who was reported her missing in 2003

Virginia Cloven, left, and 15-year-old runaway Syllannia Edwards.

"I am saddened at the tragic loss of human life, and at the thought that yet another family has had to endure years of uncertainty and pain not knowing where their loved one was," Peña said.

Police have received federal grant money to update their technology systems to cross-reference information they get from tips about the serial killings.

The city maintains a website about the case and a company has printed cards featuring all 11 victims and encouraged businesses to pass them out to keep the case in the public's eye.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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