Have you seen it? The missing list grows

Investigator Ida Lopez holds up her flyer about numerous women who remain missing and who she believes may have suffered the same fate as the women buried in West Mesa. She said she used their most recent photos in the flyers to get the best idea of ​​what they looked like when they went missing. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Over the years, the list of possible additional victims of the West Mesa serial killer has changed.

Some of the missing women were found alive or otherwise dead and have been removed from the list. Two women have been added in recent years as investigators recognized similarities in their situation to those of the 11 women who were found buried in the barren ground on the outskirts of town.

Here are the women investigators are currently looking for. The dates they were last seen and information about their lives and the situations that led to their disappearance are taken from interviews with their families, notes from investigator Ida Lopez and published incident reports. in the newspaper.

September 2003: Martha Jo Lucher, 32, was reported missing by her mother after she had no contact with her family or children. Witnesses said she and a friend “went back and forth” from a “street corner” and that Lucher never returned, according to Lopez’s notes.

In 2009, after women were found buried at the West Mesa site, Lucer’s friend told investigators about a potential suspect and said she was worried about Lucher, that she had no not seen for years.

Lucher knew at least two of the women found at the West Mesa site. She disappeared in 2003 – between the disappearance of two of the victims – but, said Lopez, it is not known if she “was a victim of the same killer and perhaps due to the circumstances the killer decided or was forced to get rid of her. body elsewhere.

The Journal has had no news of his family.

January 2005: Anna Love Vigil, 20, was first arrested for prostitution during a vice sting, according to Lopez’s notes. When she got out of jail, dropped off downtown around midnight, she called her dad for a ride. When he arrived, she was gone.

Anna Vigil’s boyfriend said that a few days later she went to Taco Bell to apply for a job, but he never heard from her again.

Anna Vigil’s mother, Stacy Love Vigil, spoke to the Journal from her home in Arkansas and said her daughter moved to Los Lunas to live with her father as a teenager because she had “met a boy”.

“She was that age – 16 – when it’s the most important thing in the world,” Stacy Vigil said. “And to my chagrin, I said, ‘OK, you know, well, if that’s what you want to try, then you could do the school year there. But from that moment, literally, I think things started to skyrocket.

Anna Vigil had a son who was 4 months old when she disappeared; her son is now 16 years old.

Remembering her daughter as an absolutely gorgeous baby who loved dressing up for Halloween growing up, Stacy Vigil said she had no idea what happened to her, but she couldn’t believe that she was alive and had not contacted her or her son.

“I don’t think she would do that,” Stacy Vigil said. “My youngest daughter and I – she’s 32 now – we sometimes talk and say ‘what would you do if Anna walked through the door?’ I was punching her in the face and kissing her at the same time. I was like, ‘How dare you? Come here. I love you.'”

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May 4, 2005: Felipa Gonzales, 22, was released from prison and her mother came to pick her up. As soon as they got home, Gonzales said she was going for a walk, left, and was never seen again.

His mother reported him missing.

Gonzales was not arrested for prostitution but, according to Lopez’s notes, friends and family said she would sometimes do it to pay for a heroin addiction. She frequented the area near West Central.

Gonzales had a 2-year-old daughter who lived with the child’s father. She suffered from postpartum depression.

Gonzales’ mother declined to speak with the Journal, saying she doesn’t like talking about it and it’s “quite hard to carry it in my heart, my mind and my life.” She said Lopez was the only one she felt comfortable talking to.

May 2005: When 21-year-old Nina Herron failed to visit her parents’ home to check on her 4-year-old son for three days, they became concerned and reported him missing.

She lived in southeast Albuquerque and, Lopez said, it was known that “on a few occasions, Nina engaged in prostitution to support her addiction to drugs and alcohol.”

Growing up, Herron was a very good kid and had a heart of gold, said his mother, Theresa Fresquez.

“She went to college and she was a cheerleader,” Fresquez said. “She wanted to graduate but drugs got in her way.”

About three years after Herron disappeared, Fresquez, her husband and their grandson moved to Edgewood to get the boy out of Albuquerque.

“I want him to live in peace and without any worries because, you know, we’ve worried our whole lives,” Fresquez said. “We entrust our worries to him, you know? »

Now, she said she keeps up to date with news of the West Mesa case and calls Lopez frequently.

“The women who have been found, you know, it brings closure to them,” Fresquez said. “I want to be them too, you know, I want to move on and I want them to find whoever did this to these women.”

March 1, 2006: Shawntell “Monique” Waites, 29, was reported missing by her grandfather who – with his wife – was raising his four children, aged 4, 8, 12 and 14.

Her 74-year-old grandfather was recovering from knee surgery when he said he hadn’t seen his granddaughter for seven months – an unusually long time.

He was quoted in an incident report as saying, “Shawntell had had a rough life and had been involved with drugs, and was currently living as a transient.”

Waites was removed from the INCC because it was – incorrectly – believed to have been found at the West Mesa site. She was reinstated in 2013.

In 2012, Waites’ grandfather filed a petition to have her presumed dead so he could receive funds from a small life insurance policy to care for his children. The petition and an accompanying affidavit from Lopez cite that her granddaughter “has a background similar to those of the 11 women whose bodies were discovered in 2009 at West Mesa in Albuquerque.”

Waites’ grandfather died in 2017. The Journal has not heard from his other family members.

March 2006: Jillian Henderson Ortiz, 19, was reported missing in Moriarty by her mother, but lived and was last seen in Albuquerque. She was added to the list of missing women more recently.

Shortly before her mother reported her missing, police were dispatched to a domestic disturbance call between Ortiz and her boyfriend.

Ortiz’s friends and family told police they were worried about her because “they said she worked the streets to support her heroin addiction.” according to Lopez’s notes.

The incident report for the case was not available and the Journal could not reach his family.

June 2006: Vanessa Reed, 24, and her sister lived in a motel off East Central and were both involved in drugs and prostitution, according to an incident report.

Reed was last seen leaving the room after an argument with her sister and after that her sister often used her information when she came into contact with the police, according to the report.

Her sister reported her missing after the skeletons of 11 women were discovered on the West Mesa; Reed was not among them.

The Journal could not reach his family.

August 2006: Leah Peebles, 23, grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and moved to Albuquerque in 2006 in search of a fresh start.

In early June of that year, she told her family that she had a job interview at the Flying Star Cafe and was going on a date, but she never turned up. to the interview. Her father reported her missing shortly after.

Lopez, the investigator, believes he saw Peebles walking on Fourth Street shortly after.

His mother, Sharon Peebles, still lives in Texas. She told the Journal that her daughter was very outgoing and loved cheerleading and acting.

But, she said, her daughter was sexually abused by a parent as a child and then by a classmate in high school.

“Her demeanor started to change when she started hanging out with different people who smoked weed and then she got into drugs,” Sharon Peebles said. “But, I mean, she was a wonderful kid.”

Sharon Peebles said Leah Peebles had spent several weeks in prison in Texas and when she was released she wanted to move to Albuquerque where her friends lived – a couple who had served as music ministers at the family church. Her father helped her move and everyone was hopeful.

Then they lost contact with her. Sharon Peebles remembers the panic and feeling like they didn’t know what to do or how to help. The couple have come to Albuquerque several times to try to find their daughter, handing out flyers downtown and at truck stops.

In 2013, Leah Peebles’ father died in a motorcycle accident. Her two younger brothers are doing well – one is married with children, the other is about to get married.

Sharon Peebles hopes her daughter is still alive. She thinks she might be a victim of trafficking.

“God knows where she is, I don’t,” she said. “I think she’s still there. She will surface. So I won’t say she was killed or anything. It’s like I chose not to take that view until I had absolute proof that she was, so I continue to have hope.

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