NM: 11th set of bones unearthed

Mesa graves yield ‘wonderful kid’
Reporter: Michael Paluska
Web Producer: Bill Diven

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The second woman identified from 11 sets of bones collected from makeshift graves on the mesa should be remembers as a loving mother rather than for her rough lifestyle, her father told KRQE News 13 Wednesday.

Earlier in the day Albuquerque police revealed Jane Doe No. 8 to be Michelle Gina Valdez who was 22 when her father reported her missing four years ago. Medical investigators identified her through dental records.

“She was my daughter and didn’t deserve to be buried in the desert.” Dan Valdez told KRQE News 13.

Investigators digging on the West Mesa near 118th Street SW and Sen. Dennis Chavez Boulevard have now unearthed 11 sets of skeletal remains including Valdez’s unborn fetus. The child would have been Dan Valdez’s third grandchild.

“She was a wonderful kid,” he said. “Everybody liked her and loved her.

“She was a fun person to be with, always smiling joking. Those were the good things I’ll remember.”

Police have hedged their comments as to the circumstances of the women’s deaths and have not reported any official causes of death. However Valdez and the previously identified victim, Victoria Chavez who was last seen in June 2004, had something in common.

“Ms. Valdez does have a prior criminal history and appears she had been arrested for prostitution and drug charges,” Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “We have identified two of the victims and able to link these two victims by having a similar lifestyle.

“Understand that these two victims at some point in time their lives crossed paths by having contact with the same individual or individuals.”

Chavez also was a drug user engaged in prostitution, her mother told police when reporting the woman’s disappearance.

Valdez said he wants his daughter to be remembered as a human being, a good person and a loving mother regardless of her past. She disappeared in September of 2004, and since then Valdez has been waiting for her to come home.

“Yes, I was hoping she was alive until proven otherwise,” Valdez said. “I had faith in God he was going to keep her safe and bring her home one day.

“Well, He’s brought her home.”

Valdez added he knows one day he will see his daughter again in heaven.

He also said he is grateful for closure and knows that there are still at least eight other families of women found on the mesa waiting to receive the phone call he got last night.

The search for more bodies was called off early Wednesday because of high winds raking the bare earth of the subdivision site where a woman walking her dog found the first human bone three weeks ago.

Investigators have said they have a list of about two dozen women, many involved in prostitution, who disappeared several years ago. They have asked family members to submit medical and dental records that might help identify the remains found in southwest Albuquerque.

Link to original on WWLP

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