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More human remains found on mesa near Albuquerque

Associated Press / February 24, 2009
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ALBUQUERQUE - Four more bodies have been uncovered from a mesa west of Albuquerque, including a fetus found inside its mother's skeleton, bringing the total remains found in the area to 10.

The search for bodies began 2 1/2 weeks ago, after hikers discovered some remains in an area recently razed for a housing development.

Since then, teams of detectives, anthropologists, and medical investigators have excavated an area 10 yards by 30 yards, uncovering some bones in graves and others scattered either by animals or the development project, Police Chief Ray Schultz said yesterday.

Police suspect that one person is responsible for burying the bodies because of how close the bodies were found together in what was a remote area when the bodies were buried. The burials are estimated to have been made between 2000 and 2005.

Only one set of remains has been identified. Those bones belonged to Victoria Chavez, whose family provided dental records when they reported her missing in 2004. They and police described Chavez as struggling with drug addiction and working as a prostitute.

The body of the pregnant woman and her fetus were found yesterday. Schultz said the remains of two other people were found Saturday.

Forensics commander Paul Feist said about 25 investigators will continue to dig at the scene until "we get everything possible."

So far, only three skulls, including Chavez's, have been recovered, making identification of the other remains difficult and time consuming, Schultz said.

Sergeant Carlos Argueta said identification of the remains could take up to a year.

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