Accused serial rapist, West Mesa murder suspect sentenced to 36 years in rape case

Joseph Blea
Joseph Blea

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –  A man who raped a young girl 26-years ago is going to prison.

A district court judge sentenced 58-year-old Joseph Blea Monday to 36 years after a jury convicted him last week.

Police say the victim was an eighth grader when she was attacked by a masked man in her home after school. Her rape kit was not tested until 2010 which led investigators to Blea.

Just before handing down her sentence, Judge Judith Nakamura told Blea: “In all honesty Mr. Blea, you took her life away.”

Blea’s only words in court: “At this time I think it would be best if I refrained from saying anything,” when Judge Nakamura gave him the chance to make a statement.

Blea’s been accused of several rapes back in the 1980’s and 90’s near Mckinley Middle School.

Police say Blea has a long history of sexually assaulting women and is also a suspect in the biggest murder investigation in Albuquerque history.

Blea faces a trial on three more rapes in late October.

Albuquerque Police have called him a monster. Investigators say he is a serial rapist, targeting dozens of teenage girls in the late 1980’s. They said Blea wore a ski mask when he attacked victims and was usually armed with a knife.

After the rapes, police said he would steal victims’ underwear. They called him the Mckinley Middle School rapist.

“It’s mind-boggling how you can look at this man and even think of him as a human,” said APD Spokeswoman Nadine Hamby in 2010. “He’s an animal.”

Blea is also one of the suspects in very large case that’s gained national attention. Last year, KRQE News 13 learned and reported that Blea is a suspect in the West Mesa murders.

In 2009, 11 women were found buried on Albuquerque’s West Mesa. One woman was pregnant.

The evidence against Blea includes his DNA found on the jeans of a prostitute who was killed and dumped off east Central in the late 1980’s. KRQE News 13 also learned a tag for a tree bought at an Albuquerque nursery was discovered in the makeshift graves. Blea, who worked as a landscaper, was a frequent shopper at the nursery.

West Mesa Murder Tips:

  • Contact the 118th Street Task Force: 1-888-755-TIPS (8477) or (505) 768-2450.

Blea isn’t the only suspect in the West Mesa murders.

Police have also looked at Lorenzo Montoya who lived in the South Valley, not far from the West Mesa scene. In 2006, Montoya was shot and killed by a pimp after strangling a prostitute.

Authorities focused on both Montoya and Blea believing the women had all been murdered by the same person.

Police have not charged Blea or anyone else for the West Mesa murders, saying they don’t have the evidence they need to arrest a suspect in the case. They have asked the FBI to help crack the West Mesa case. There is still a $10,000 reward.

 

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