The West Mesa Murders burial site

Serial Killer Burial Site in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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The West Mesa Murders burial site

This is the West Mesa Murders burial site.

It is located at 10808 Amole Mesa Avenue SW in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

During the 2000s, an unidentified serial killer called the "West Mesa Bone Collector" buried eleven of his victims at this location.

On February 2nd, 2009, a local woman named Christine Ross was walking in the area when her dog picked up a large bone that was protruding from the ground. Thinking that the bone looked strange, she decided to send a photograph of it to her sister, who worked as a registered nurse.

After being told that it looked like a human femur (thigh bone), she immediately called 911.

Following the discovery, the police carried out a thorough examination of the site. Over the course of the next month, forensic investigators dug up the area and uncovered the skeletal remains of eleven women and an unborn child.

The search took place near this retention basin.

All of the victims disappeared between 2003 and 2005.

Although most of them had histories of sex work and drug abuse, this was not the case with Jamie Barela. Barela was a 15-year-old with no prior arrests. Judging by the details of her disappearance, it seems as though she was abducted alongside her older cousin, Evelyn Salazar, who did have a history of prostitution.

The two cousins went missing in April 2004 after they left a family gathering together and walked to a nearby park. Almost five years later, their skeletal remains were found buried at this site on the West Mesa of Albuquerque.

Remarkably, the bodies may have remained hidden for decades had it not been for the collapse of the US housing market. By 2006, the site in question had been covered over and prepared for development. However, those plans fell through after the housing bubble burst and construction ground to a halt.

West Mesa site

The killer's burial ground was initially situated on the bank of an arroyo, which is a naturally occurring stream bed that forms in desert climates. When the construction firm covered this arroyo, rainwater could no longer drain away from the area. As a result, the plot of land began to flood during heavy downpours.

After receiving complaints from neighbors, the developers built a wall that channeled storm water into a retention basin. However, this retention basin was situated in the approximate area of the burial site.

From that point on, Mother Nature got to work. In the months that followed, rainwater steadily eroded the ground until the victims' bones resurfaced.

Then, on a cool February morning in 2009, Christine Ross and her dog Ruca discovered a human femur bone that would spark one of the largest murder investigations in New Mexico history.

West Mesa Murders satellite photos
This satellite photograph was taken on March 23rd, 2004. It shows tire tracks on the southern side of the arroyo, which is where the West Mesa victims were found. These tracks are not present in the 2002 photo.

Despite hundreds of interviews, no arrests have ever been made. As time wore on and the tips dried up, the 40-man task force dwindled down to just one detective.

There are currently two main suspects in the case, both of whom are no longer a threat to society.

The first suspect is Lorenzo Montoya, who was shot dead in December 2006. Montoya was gunned down by the boyfriend of a sex worker that he had strangled to death in his trailer.

The second suspect is a gardener named Joseph Blea. In 2015, Blea was sentenced to 36 years in prison for a rape that occurred during the 1980s. He has denied any involvement in the killings.

Joseph Blea and Lorenzo Montoya
Blea and Montoya.

Although the West Mesa case remains unsolved, the Albuquerque Police Department is confident that the killer is no longer walking the streets.

West Mesa burial site location

The address and the GPS coordinates for this location are as follows:


10808 Amole Mesa Ave SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, NM 87121, USA


To view directions on how to get there, you can use the Google Maps shortcut below:

Google Maps

GPS coordinates

The latitude and longitude coordinates for the site are:

35.036797, -106.751369


The site is about 2 miles west of Coors Boulevard in the southwestern suburbs of Albuquerque.


Photos of the site and other related images.

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Image source: Google Maps

The Google Street View image above was taken in April 2022. These days, the plot is home to a memorial park that is dedicated to the victims.

The project broke ground during the summer of 2018.

West Mesa burial site

West Mesa burial site

Image source: Google Maps

This image shows what the burial site looked like back in 2011. It was taken two years after the victims' remains were discovered.

West Mesa murder victims

West Mesa murder victims

All of the West Mesa victims disappeared between 2003 and 2004. However, there is a possibility that some of them were murdered in 2005.

The killer targeted women between the ages of 15 and 32.

Many of the victims lived high-risk lifestyles and had a history of prostitution.

It appears as though his first victim was 22-year-old Monica Candelaria, who was last seen on May 15th, 2003.

The last victim was Michelle Valdez (22). She was last seen on September 22nd, 2004. Valdez was four months pregnant at the time of her murder. The skeletal remains of her unborn baby were also discovered at the burial site.

Jamie Barela (15) had no prior arrests. Barela and her older cousin, Evelyn Salazar (26), disappeared after leaving a family gathering in April 2004.

Barela was the last victim to be identified.

Syllannia Edwards was a 15-year-old runaway from Ohio. Previously, she had been in foster care. The authorities believe that Edwards had become involved in prostitution and that she was working along Interstate 40, which runs through Albuquerque.

Satellite photograph


This satellite photograph was taken in April 2002, which was roughly one year before the "West Mesa Bone Collector" started burying his victims at the site.

At the time, it was half a mile south of the closest neighborhood (Cartagena Avenue).

The killer was forced to abandon this site after housing developments started to encroach on the area during the mid-2000s.

His decision to abandon this site four years before its discovery suggests that he may have started burying his victims elsewhere. Notably, at least seven women went missing from the Albuquerque area between 2005 and 2006.



By 2006, the land had been platted for residential development.

Still missing

Still missing

Eight women who lived similar lifestyles to the West Mesa victims are still missing from the Albuquerque area.

The women in question are Anna Vigil, Felipa Gonzales, Shawntell Waites, Nina Herron, Vanessa Reed, Jillian Ortiz, Martha Jo Lucher, and Anna Peebles.

They disappeared between 2005 and 2006, which is just after the killer seemingly abandoned his original burial site. When construction encroached on the original site, the killer may have decided to move further afield.

This raises the possibility that he started burying his victims elsewhere.

Anyone with information about these missing women is being asked to call 505-768-2450.

Joseph Blea

Joseph Blea

A gardener named Joseph Blea is considered a strong suspect in the case. In 2015, he was sentenced to 36 years in prison for a rape that he committed in the 1980s.

During the examination of the West Mesa burial site, the forensic team uncovered a plastic identification tag for a Spearmint Juniper tree. After tracking down its origin, investigators learned that it came from a plant nursery that Blea often did business with.

Blea was well known to local law enforcement, as they had encountered him more than 100 times over a 20-year period. Most of these encounters occurred in areas that had a reputation for sex work.

When he first became a suspect in the case, a surveillance team tailed him and noted that he appeared to be circling around the streets and stalking sex workers.

His luck finally ran out when he was arrested for aggravated assault following a domestic dispute at his house. After his arrest, his DNA was entered into the CODIS database system. A few months later, the system connected him with two violent crimes that took place during the 1980s.

One was the 1985 murder of a sex worker. The other was the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1989.

Sadly, he could not be charged with the murder because the statute of limitations had passed.

Although the police had enough evidence to immediately arrest him and charge him with rape, they decided to hold off for a while.

By the time the DNA match was made, Blea had already become a suspect in the West Mesa murders. As a result, investigators chose to delay the execution of the warrant and continue tailing him.

When the police finally executed the warrant and searched his house, they discovered underwear and jewelry that did not belong to his wife.

Lorenzo Montoya

Lorenzo Montoya

Lorenzo Montoya is also considered by many to be a strong suspect in the West Mesa murders. However, judging by recent interviews, it seems as though the authorities have grown less confident that he was involved.

In December 2006, the 39-year-old contacted an escort named Shericka Hill, whose ad he had seen listed on the back of a local magazine. The pair met in person during the early hours of December 17th, 2006, and agreed to rendezvous at Montoya's trailer on Blake Road.

Hill showed up at the mobile home shortly afterwards. However, unbeknownst to Montoyo, she was driven to the trailer park by her pimp and boyfriend, Federick Williams.

During the "meeting", Williams remained parked out of sight and waited for Hill to finish her "work".

One hour later, he called his girlfriend to see what was taking so long. After receiving no answer, he decided to drive around the trailer park.

At some point during his search, he encountered Montoyo, who was reportedly carrying Hill's body. Following a short confrontation, a gun battle broke out between the pair, and Montoyo was fatally wounded.

When the police arrived at the scene, they saw that Hill had been restrained with duct tape and strangled to death. In the trunk of Montoyo's vehicle was a plastic bag containing her clothes and personal belongings.

It is believed that Williams happened upon Montoyo while he was in the process of disposing of Hill's remains.

Although the disappearances of sex workers stopped following Montoyo's death, it seems as though the authorities have cooled on him as a potential suspect.

During a search of the trailer, they found homemade video tapes that featured a number of different sex workers. However, none of them were identified as the West Mesa murder victims.

Furthermore, a forensic examination of the living room carpet failed to find any trace of the women's DNA.

When investigators looked into his financial records, they were unable to find any transactions linking him to the victims' disappearances.

10808 Amole Mesa Avenue SW

10808 Amole Mesa Avenue SW

The Google Street View above was captured in September 2023. Houses now surround the memorial park.

This location belongs to the following categories:

Crime ScenesSerial KillersUnsolved Cases

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