Updated: Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010, 1:21 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 16 Mar 2010, 10:29 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Sandra Sanchez went missing last April, and her body was found dumped near Los Lunas a few months later in June.
Now her family is fighting to improve the way police investigate missing persons cases.
“It's been frustrating, it's been a very frustrating road for us," Sanchez's brother Dennis Maestas said.
He fought for Sandra after she vanished. For two months her family did everything they could to bring her home until she was found shot to death and left in a culvert.
Maestas is now fighting to save lives in the future.
”We can't afford, we can't afford to lose any more loved ones,” Maestas said.
A Senate Memorial was passed for Sanchez, calling for action to handle missing persons cases quicker.
It goes hand and hand with another a new law, Senate Bill 55.
“The memorial and the new law requires much quicker reporting and getting information put into a state database,” Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said.
Police now have two hours to enter the information from a missing persons report into the National Crime Information Center.
Schultz said that will allow other agencies to see details of the case right away.
New Mexico State Police Maj. Robert Shilling agrees.
”It opens up that information highway for a lack of a better term, for every other agency in the state to have access to that information, and for agencies to almost automatically be able to share that information,” Shilling said.
Every officer and deputy in New Mexico will get new training on how to use the database to investigate their own cases and how to search for similar cases in other areas. That way, they can see if disappearances are connected or the work of a serial killer.
Schultz, however, said this bill still falls short.
"We are hoping the law would go a little bit further and include specifically a repository for DNA, medical and dental records," he said.
Schultz said that would have been helpful when police were trying to identify victims of the West Mesa serial killer.
The new law gives doctors and dentists immunity from privacy laws when they release medical information to the police.
Sandra Sanchez's family said the law could have helped in her case because she lived in Corrales, but was last seen in Valencia County. They claim the two police departments did not work together.
Sanchez's ex-boyfriend, who had a history of domestic abuse, was eventually arrested for her murder. He is still awaiting trial.