ALBUQUERQUE – Three years after her remains were found by hikers, a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department forensic artist created a facsimile of the young woman's face that generated a flood of tips and her identity.
The artist's sketch using a reconstruction of her skull broke open the closed case, as Gallup callers flooded the department with tips. That's 18-year-old Tara Woodman, the callers said.
Woodman, who moved to Albuquerque from Sanders, Ariz., stopped calling her family in the fall of 2004. The family filed a missing persons report with Albuquerque police in February 2005.
According to the report, Woodman was living with a married man just before she died.
Court records showed that he is now serving a 14-year prison sentence for raping a teenager in 2005. He also served time in prison at age 19 after he was convicted of beating his abusive father to death at an Albuquerque softball park, court records said.
An Albuquerque Police Department supervisor failed to take the proper steps in investigating the report of Woodman's disappearance and the information about her boyfriend never surfaced, Albuquerque police spokesman John Walsh said.
The case was closed with notes saying the investigation revealed Woodman had moved to Arizona to live with her father.
Albuquerque police have not named suspects in the case.
But Albuquerque Detective Rich Lewis said he thinks Woodman's case can now be solved and a suspect brought to justice.
"I'm not closing my eyes to anything," he said. "I feel positive about this case."