APD’s new chief discusses potential suspects in West Mesa murder investigation

West Mesa Murders Dig (KRQE News 13)
West Mesa Murders Dig (KRQE News 13)


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s Albuquerque’s biggest murder mystery: Who killed 11 women and buried them on the West Mesa?

The man once in charge of the investigation is now the Albuquerque Police Chief. Thursday, he sat down with KRQE News 13 and named a couple of names.

In February it will be nine years since the first bones were discovered on the West Mesa. Thursday, KRQE News 13 asked Chief Michael Geier about some specific people, and how badly the Albuquerque Police Department wants to be able to say, “case closed.”

“Is it somewhat of a black eye to the Albuquerque Police Department that we haven’t publicly announced a killer or suspect in this case?” KRQE News 13’s Marissa Lucero asked.

“I don’t know if I would consider it a black eye. There’s so many factors involved. If we were not doing the investigation correctly or we mishandled certain things like pieces of evidence or made procedural errors, then I would say, ‘Yeah, it would be a black eye,'” Geier said.

In 2009, a woman was walking her dog near 118th Street and Dennis Chavez when she came upon a bone. In one month, investigators found shallow graves for 11 women. To this day, the case is officially unsolved.

“A suspect is actually somebody we anticipate charging with the crime and I don’t ever think we reached that stage to develop enough grounds or enough probable cause to point fingers at an individual,” Geier said.

When Mayor Tim Keller took office last month, he picked Geier as the interim chief for APD. Geier oversaw the West Mesa investigation.

KRQE News 13 asked Geier about two people APD looked at, but never publicly called suspects: Joseph Blea and Lorenzo Montoya.

“We would have liked Mr. Montoya to have been our main suspect and closed the case out, but with him being deceased, it limited our investigative capabilities,” Geier said.

Montoya was killed in 2006 at his South Valley home less than two miles from the West Mesa burial site. He choked to death a prostitute at his home, then was shot by the woman’s pimp. The murders stopped after he was killed.

“The similarities were there. One thing we had, was his home.  We went through every piece of that, from his carpeting to anything he had in the home and anything he had in the vehicle and nothing panned out,” Geier said.

Blea, meanwhile, is a serial rapist who’s in prison. However, according to Geier investigators simply couldn’t tie him to the murders either.

“I think they’re our two strongest candidates, so to speak, as the main suspects, but you know sometimes there’s a surprise and there may be someone we never even looked at,” he said.

The chief said if you ask anyone in APD who knows the case, they’re split on who they think it is.

Now that he’s back with the department, the chief said it’s his goal to help solve the case, and bring closure to the families.

“We just want them to know we haven’t forgotten them,” Geier said. “I think in the back of everyone’s mind is if we can win this one, that would be the biggest victory for this city.”


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