NM: Father Hopes Others Are Identified

KOAT.com

Police Unearth 11th Victim On West Mesa

POSTED: 9:22 pm MST February 25, 2009
UPDATED: 4:43 pm MST February 26, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “I knew that the more bones that they found, the more chance that my daughter would be in that group.” – Daniel Valdez, father of identified victim

The mystery on the West Mesa deepens as police unearth an eleventh skeleton from Albuquerque’s largest crime scene ever.

Albuquerque police have discovered 11 sets of human remains on the west mesa in the past month. The first set of remains was discovered by two hikers in early February. Police have identified two of the remains.

Michelle Valdez was the latest victim to be indentified. Her father said she went missing years ago and the hardest part for him was not knowing where she was. Now that he does know she was among the buried bodies, he said he’s trying to move forward.

“It’s just hard. It’s hard on everybody,” father Daniel Valdez said.

In February of 2005 he said he filled out a missing persons report for his daughter Michelle. For years, there were no answers, but recent news about buried bodies on the West Mesa caught his attention.

“I knew that the more bones that they found, the more chance that my daughter would be in that group,” Valdez said.

Valdez was right. Tuesday night police told him his daughter’s remains were discovered and she was pregnant. The 3 to 4-month-old fetus was found. Michelle and the fetus were the eighth and ninth sets of remains to be discovered at the location.

“Love your kids. Keep track of them. Know where they’re at,” Valdez said.

Valdez said his focus is now on the 100-acre crime scene.

“My prayers and thoughts go out to the other families who haven’t been able to get closure,” Valdez said.

The number of families that will eventually have to deal with that difficult news is growing. The police chief said an 11th body was found out on the West Mesa Tuesday around dusk.

“Several years ago we noticed an increasing number of young women missing,” said Chief Ray Schultz, with Albuquerque Police Department.

Schultz said at that time they established a special missing persons file that is now helping in this case. Investigators said they are using it as they try to figure out who buried the bodies.

“I’d like for them to find out who it is, number one, for the streets to be safe and everybody else’s daughters to be safe,” Valdez said.

That special file of missing women has more than 20 names.

Police said they are waiting for the medical investigator to identify all the victims. Then police can see what they had in common which could help find the person who buried the bodies.

Link to original story on KOAT

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