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Bones found in Albuquerque link to archaeological site

July 6, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bones discovered earlier this week not far from an area where 11 women were found buried nearly a decade ago are not related to an unsolved serial killing, but rather are part of an archaeological site that dates back centuries.

The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator released its findings Friday, saying a forensic anthropologist and forensic dentist used dental features, bone weathering scales and other observations to determine the age and origin of the remains.

The state archaeologist will ensure that any remaining skeletal elements are collected and removed for appropriate reburial.

Construction workers who were building a park on the city’s West Mesa discovered the remains Tuesday. It was less than a mile from the mass grave where the first sets of human remains were unearthed in 2009.

The latest discovery had sparked fears that there may have been more victims as a number of women went missing around the same time as the West Mesa victims but have never been found.

“It’s not lost on us that there are family members whose loved ones are missing and thought this discovery might bring them closure. Our hearts go out to those families,” Chief Medical Investigator Kurt Nolte said in a statement.

Police on Friday shared the medical investigator’s findings with family members of a number of the missing women.

Police said they will continue to investigate.

Authorities have said nearly all the dead women who were unearthed in 2009 worked as prostitutes before they disappeared between 2003 and early 2005.

The victims include Jamie Barela, a 15-year-old who was last seen by her family in 2004. Buried with her were Syllannia Edwards, 15, a runaway from Lawton, Oklahoma, and Michelle Valdez, 22, who was pregnant.

The city maintains a website about the case and a company has printed cards featuring all 11 victims and encouraged businesses to pass them out to keep the case in the public’s eye.

Theresa Fresquez’s daughter, Nina Herron, is one of the missing women. Although the bones were unrelated to the West Mesa case, she told the Albuquerque Journal that she hopes focus on the case continues.

“My daughter’s been missing for 13 years,” she said. “I don’t know if she’s up there, but we got to keep on looking because they have to be somewhere.”

The spot where the bones were found Tuesday was in an area where archaeologists had been digging just a few years earlier. They were researching a 1,000-year-old food-storage pit, a campsite and pottery fragments found there in 2015. The site is believed to date back to the time period of 1100-1300 A.D.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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