Between 2002 and 2005, a serial killer who became known as the West Mesa Bone Collector murdered and buried 11 women in the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico. To this day, law enforcement officials have been unable to discover the true identity of the murderer, despite the fact that they have a list of potential suspects, two of whom are already dead. The stuff of a mystery television show, the Bone Collector's saga will leave you with goosebumps.
All of the West Mesa Bone Collector's victims fall between the ages of 15 and 32, fit a specific profile, were suspected to be involved in the Albuquerque drug scene, and worked as prostitutes. Like many other infamous unsolved murders, the true identity of the West Mesa Bone Collector remains a mystery due to a lack of new evidence, and it's likely that these crimes will remain unsolved until someone comes forward. Until then, this is everything we know about the West Mesa Bone Collector.
When a collection of bodies was discovered in the desert outside of Albuquerque, NM, it wasn't just the number of bodies that were found that stunned investigators, but the way in which they were buried. The bodies of 11 women and one unborn child were found not in a single mass grave, but rather they were found scattered across a desolate, empty plot of land.
Because of this, it took law enforcement officials quite some time to recover all of the bodies. Then, they started the arduous process of identifying each of them, quickly coming to realized that many of them had been missing for years. By the end of their investigation, the bodies of 11 women had been identified: Jamie Barela, Monica Candelaria, Victoria Chavez, Virginia Cloven, Syllania Edwards, Cinnamon Elks, Doreen Marquez, Julie Nieto, Veronica Romero, Evelyn Salazar, and Michelle Valdez.
Lorenzo Montoya had a rather suspicious criminal background. He not only lived near the burial site, but he was arrested in 1999 for attempting to strangle a prostitute that he'd picked up and taken to a secluded area. In 2006, Montoya died after the boyfriend of Sherick Hill, another prostitute, murdered him. Montoya had hired Hill, and then tied her up and strangled her. But when she didn't emerge from Montoya's home at the time she said she would, her boyfriend, whom she'd brought with her, approached the house and killed Montoya in self-defense. Suspiciously, the West Mesa murders stopped after Montoya was killed, leading the authorities to conclude that he may have been the killer.
When law enforcement officials began searching for other bodies strewn across the plot of land in West Mesa, they had compiled a list of 20 potential victims. All of those women had been missing for some time, and they all shared characteristics with the known victims. Of that list, 11 were found buried in the serial killer's dumping ground, and 3 others were luckily found still alive. However, the remaining 6, all of whom remain unnamed even though their pictures are available, are still missing, and might have fallen prey to the murderer as well.
The West Mesa burial ground was first discovered in February, 2009, by a woman who lived in the area. Allegedly, she had been out walking her dog in this particular 92-acre deserted scrubland known as West Mesa - a section of Albuquerque, NM - when she came across a bone sticking out of the ground and promptly called the police.