Updated: Thursday, 27 Oct 2011, 4:54 PM MDT
Published : Monday, 08 Aug 2011, 5:13 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Albuquerque police said they have eliminated a person of interest in the West Mesa murders.
That person is Ron Erwin, the Missouri based photographer APD had linked to the case.
A joint FBI, APD raid of Erwin’s homes and business in Joplin last August set off a flurry of suspicion
Erwin’s mother told News 13 he used to visit Albuquerque a couple of times a year but stopped right around the time the last victim disappeared in 2005.
Albuquerque police never officially named Erwin, 58 or anyone else for that matter as a suspect.
Monday APD spokesperson Sgt. Trish Hoffman confirmed Erwin was being looked at in connection with case, but not anymore.
“We have been able to determine that Ron Erwin was not here in Albuquerque at certain times of our investigation,” Sgt. Hoffman said, adding, “so at this point he is no longer a viable suspect.”
APD is still not saying why Erwin was being investigated to begin with and the search warrants in the case are sealed.
The one thing investigators are saying is that even though Erwin has been eliminated as a person of interest, he is not completely off their radar.
“That doesn’t mean that he couldn’t be put back in our process as like a possible person of interest depending on if we had new information that came to us or anyone else came forward that were able to put him as a person of interest,” Hoffman said.
With Erwin out for now that leaves at least one other potential person of interest.
Sources tell News 13 that person is Lorenzo Montoya.
He is being looked at because in 2006 police said Montoya strangled a prostitute in his South Valley home.
Montoya was later killed by the girls pimp.
Three years later, in February of 2009, the bodies of 11 women were found buried on the West Mesa.
Police said all the women vanished before Montoya was killed.
APD will not comment on whether or not they are looking at Montoya, but investigators did say clearing Erwin helps their case.
“When we can eliminate people from our case that helps our case go forward to look at other possible suspects,” Hoffman said.
Erwin told a Joplin newspaper he does not know why Albuquerque detectives were looking at him in connection with this case.
News 13 tried setting up an interview with Erwin through his lawyer, but they have not gotten back to us.
APD said detectives are still working leads and following up on tips in the case, but it is not ready to release any other information at this time.