Remains found in Sandoval County

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Two years ago, a 27-year-old Bernalillo woman vanished without a trace.

Now, the agony of wondering where she was may finally be over for her family, but the mystery of what happened to her is only half-solved

“I just want to hold my baby in my arms. I want her here,” said Julie Salas of her daughter, Brenda.

Brenda was last seen at the Rio Rancho Walmart on June 13, 2012.

Julie showed KRQE the last picture Brenda gave to her mom and her cousin remembered their last words.

“The last time I spoke to her, she said she loved me and that she is going to do better. She is going to make everybody proud,” Barbara Marquez said.

After almost two years of no leads, detectives came to the family home Easter Sunday with the news everyone feared.

“That is when they told us they had found her remains,” Julie said.

Investigators are still working to confirm that through DNA and dental records.

The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office said people looking for fossils on the Mesa west of Rio Rancho found the badly decomposed remains.

Detectives then found what they believe are Brenda’s clothes, keys and cellphone nearby.

All this, just a few miles from where her car was found shortly after she disappeared.

That has the family wondering why she wasn’t found sooner.

“I felt that she was out there. I knew that she was cold,” Julie said.

“The area she was found in is a really rugged area and you would almost have to walk onto where the body was located in order to find the body,” said Lt. Keith Elder, sheriff’s office spokesperson.

The Office of the Medical Investigator will try to discover how she died.

Brenda’s family thinks her former boyfriend had something to do with it.

They don’t believe Brenda would have gone out there on her own.

“But she’s found and now at least we can put her to rest,” Julie said.

Rio Rancho Police believe someone tried to dial 911 from the cell phone found at the scene but there was no cell service.

They said they have interviewed Brenda’s boyfriend in the past but that there are no suspects in the case right now. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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