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Bones Discovered On The West Mesa Near Mass Grave

Marisa Demarco / KUNM
A memorial site set up by Street Safe New Mexico earlier this year.

UPDATE: The Office of the Medical Investigator determined that the bones construction workers found are ancient and not related to the gravesite discovered in 2009.

Construction crews on the West Mesa of Albuquerque came across bones Tuesday morning that appear to be human. Workers were digging into undeveloped land about one-quarter of a mile away from where the bodies of eleven women were unearthed years ago. That case is still unsolved. 

The newly discovered skeletal remains are still partially buried, said Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson Simon Drobik, and though it’s too early to tell, officers are hoping this is evidence that helps identify the killer in the years-old case. "We obviously know that this will open up old wounds for the original victims’ families," he said. "But we’re hoping always. The main goal is to get closure for the families and solve this case."

The entire area may have to be excavated, Drobik warned neighbors, and it might be a long process. Detectives in 2009 said there might be more gravesites on the mesa.

APD’s police chief Michael Geier worked the case nine years ago. He says these new bones could be part of a separate, more recent homicide, they could be very old, or they could belong to several women who went missing in the same time period. APD has DNA samples from other missing women on file for comparison.

The Office of the Medical Investigator will examine these remains, but results could take months.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.