By Maggie Shepard
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bones from six bodies have been uncovered in the desert west of Albuquerque during the past two weeks, and police said Tuesday they were likely put there by one person.
As detectives shore up their list of suspects, the list of possible victims is growing to include a group of 16 prostitutes who went missing from Albuquerque between 2001 and 2006 and others reported missing to other area law enforcement agencies.
Of the six sets of remains, only one has been identified through dental records provided by the family of Victoria Chavez when they reported her missing in 2004. Police said her remains were found intact in a grave 18 inches deep without clothing or any other items.
Bones from the other five bodies, the most recent of them recovered Tuesday, were scattered across a 100-square-foot area recently leveled by bulldozers building a housing community. Police were alerted to the site by hikers who spotted some bones two weeks ago.
Albuquerque homicide Sgt. Carlos Argueta said some of the victims were likely transient drug addicts and prostitutes - women who often don't have family members who report them missing.
Argueta said his detectives are looking at a few suspects in connection with Chavez's case. Two suspects - Fred Reynolds and Lorenzo Montoya - are dead.
Reynolds, 60, was an Albuquerque area pimp who was found dead of natural causes in January. Police say he had pictures of some of the missing prostitutes in his home.
Montoya, 39, was shot and killed in 2006 after he killed a 19-year-old prostitute, Sherika Hill, and tried to stuff her nude body in the trunk of his car. Her pimp, parked outside his trailer waiting for Hill, shot Montoya.
Even if the victims are identified, Argueta said, determining the cause of death from skeletal remains can be difficult.
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"But we have to investigate these cases for these women and for their families. This was someone's daughter," he said.