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New lead in West Mesa Murders

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said recent events have brought new attention and maybe new leads to the famous west mesa serial murder case.

One of the victim’s fathers also told News 13 Tuesday that he thinks he knows who ended his daughter’s life.

It’s been two and a half years since that first bone was discovered, but police still haven’t made any arrests, or even named a suspect for that matter. But the family of one victim isn’t hesitating to say who the killer is.

“I think Lorenzo Montoya was involved in the west mesa murders,” Dan Valdez said.

Sources have said Lorenzo Montoya is one of the guys police are looking at. Montoya was caught picking up prostitutes on Central three times. At one point, police followed him and caught him raping and strangling the woman in his truck. But for some reason, that 1999 case was dismissed.

Montoya strangled a prostitute in his south valley home in 2006. He was then shot and killed by her pimp when he caught Montoya carrying her half-naked body to his truck.

Three years later, in February of 2009, the 11 women were found on the west mesa. All went missing before 2005; before Montoya was killed.

Michelle Valdez was one of those missing prostitutes. Tuesday her father told News 13 he thinks Montoya wasn’t acting alone.

“I don’t think he was the mastermind,” Dan Valdez said. “I really think that he was possibly the gofer or the guy that took them out there and buried them, because he only lived a mile from there.”

Police Chief Ray Schultz said the short list of suspects is constantly revolving. The chief said recent cases have opened up new doors.

“Recent prostitution arrests have come to light involving prostitution and organized prostitution obviously those types of cases bring now new lists of johns,” said Schultz.

That case: the high profile, highly secretive, online prostitution site Southwest Companions. That led to the arrest of ex-UNM President Chris Garcia.

This isn’t the only new lead. Remember Ron Erwin?

Albuquerque Police raided the photographers’ Joplin, Missouri home and business a year ago, confiscating thousands of pictures.

Erwin’s mother told me he used to visit Albuquerque during the state fair to take photos, but stopped coming here, right about the time the murder’s stopped.

Shortly after the raid, police released disturbing images of women who looked drugged or dead. Police wouldn’t say if the photos were Erwin’s.

Investigators thought they got everything they needed in Joplin. Then, in May, a tornado ripped through the city of 50 thousand, uncovering something that had Joplin police quickly calling APD.

“They have found some suspicious items, not necessarily connected to Erwin, but they wanted to know if this could somehow be connected to our case,” said Schultz.

The items were bones, but the chief said they don’t believe they’re related to the West Mesa murders.

After two and a half years, the chief knows people want answers but says this case has to be handled with care.

“We know that when a suspect is named that will be looked at very, very closely,” said Schultz.

News 13 asked the chief, “Do you really think that day will come though chief, that you will name somebody?” He responded, “I sure hope so.”

Dan Valdez said he’s also confident that day will come.

“It bothers me not how long it takes, as long as they get the right suspects,” said Valdez. “If it takes 5 years than so be it, if it takes 10 years then so be it.”

Valdez said he does find some solace in Montoya’s murder. He said justice comes to everyone in the end when they meet their maker.

 Article, video and photos here.

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