Las Desaparecidas

West Mesa Murders: the Burial Ground

Whatever navigational senses people were meant to be born with, I happen to be lacking; I can get lost in a Walmart parking lot. But in this case, I got pretty interested in the satellite photographs and maps looking at the area around the mesa burial ground even though looking at maps is generally something I hate.

Years ago, an Albuquerque native named Droogie posted on a site called Something Awful Forums. He did a really great series of write-ups on the West Mesa, and he posted pictures where tire tracks can be seen leading to the area where the women and girls’ bodies were later found. Only two pictures below waere created by Droogie, but he deserves credit for the my dive into the geological part of this case. Thank you, Droogie!

At the end of this post, I have also included a short clip I created to show the area where the tire tracks were, as well as the development over time. It’s a bit easier to see than in the pictures, I think, and includes some shots I couldn’t get in pictures. 

The burial area, as of 2021, via Google Maps. The black squares are approximately where the police dug for bodies. You can also see the West Mesa Memorial Park in this view.
The West Mesa, circa 2002- Courtesy of Droogie. The rectangle is around the area the bodies were later found.

The majority of the photos posted below were retrieved from Albuquerque’s historical aerial viewer. 

The surrounding area, 2004

All of the women and girls who were found on the mesa went missing in 2003 or 2004. 

May 2003- Monica Candelaria

October 2003- Doreen Marquez

2004?- Victoria Chavez

February 2004- Veronica Romero

March 26, 2004 OR April 2, 2004- Cousins Jamie Barela, 15, and Evelyn Salazar, 27, go missing after heading towards a park on San Mateo and Gibson. 

May 2004?- Syllania Edwards

June 2004- Virginia Cloven

July 2004- Cinnamon Elks

August 2004- Julie Nieto

September 2004- Michelle Valdez

If you look inside the circle, you may see the tire tracks going to the area where the remains were found.
Here you can see where the park and neighbors are in relation to the 2004 emptiness.


By 2006, you can see the housing development coming up. I had previously thought that it was still pretty empty in 2006, but it looks like there had been a lot of construction activity, and that may have scared the killer off. 

By 2008, the housing crash was in full swing and development on the mesa had largely ceased, though you can see a new neighborhood just streets away. 

2010 aerial view

Unfortunately, this Albuquerque site doesn’t have an archive of the 2009 view of this area, but there is one via Google Earth, thanks to the US Geological Survey. In the October 2009 shot, you can see where the police moved literal tons of dirt, looking for more remains. 

Highlighted primary dig areas for the police- November 2015- Courtesy of Droogie

Here is the link in case the clip above isn’t working. 

Thank you for reading and following along. 

If you have information on the West Mesa Murders, please call:

the 118th Street Task Force at 1-877-765-8273 or (505) 768-2450 


Crime Stoppers at (505) 843-STOP with any information you may have concerning this crime.

You may also email information to Detective Denice Myers at or Investigator Ida Lopez at

1 thought on “West Mesa Murders: the Burial Ground”

  1. Fernando Moreno

    This is mind blowing. I heard about this story on crime junkies podcast. These pics are good to see. RIP to all the victims. Thank you for sharing these pictures.

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