SANTA FE (KRQE) - Cold-case detectives are trying to get DNA samples from seven prisoners that have been locked up for decades to see if they had anything to do with two murders that happened in 1985.
Santa Fe police said they have been working diligently on the murders Susan Laporte and Maria Padilla. Both women were raped and strangled.
Padilla's body was left on a bosque trail in Albuquerque. Laporte's body was found in an arroyo in Santa Fe. Police said the same suspect's DNA popped up at both scenes.
So now detectives are working to match the killer's DNA with a suspect, and they've been weeding through those convicted of rape or murder in New Mexico since 1985.
"Statistics show if these types of murders and rapes stop and the suspect profile has stopped as far as victims, that suspect is likely incarcerated," police spokesperson Celina Westervelt said. "There are about 300 names here. The detective went through every one of these suspects."
The majority of the convicts on the list had given a DNA sample, so police were able to exclude them.
However, detectives found seven of those inmates still locked up from the 1980s that have not been forced to submit DNA.
"We are working with the state's legal system, the Department of Corrections," Westervelt said.
The state statute known as Katie's Law allows for the collection of DNA from felony suspects, but it only applies to those arrested after July 2001.
Santa Fe police have contacted the governor's office to look at their options.
The governor's office told KRQE News 13 that another law requires DNA samples be taken from those convicted on or after July 1997. Those who are still locked up after 1997 are eligible to give a DNA sample.
Now detectives are trying to work with state prison officials to make it happen
"These people are already behind bars, have already in our custody, have already committed a crime, so it would work in our favor," Westervelt said.
The 1997 law applies to those convicted of felonies or sex offenses.
The Department of Corrections spoke with its legal department Thursday and said it can legally take DNA samples from the seven prisoners.
A corrections spokesperson said Santa Fe police will need to make a formal request for the samples through CODIS, a national DNA crime database.
There's also a list of about 80 people already released from prison or who have died that could fit the criteria. Police are looking at tracking down their DNA, too.
A Sheriff's Deputy who was fired for forging a certificate of completion for a training course she did not complete caught a break from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board.
It's been 11 years since a woman was buried alive after a tractor-trailer full of sand turned over onto her car.
Roswell has seen a major increase in burglaries this year and a lack of officers might be to blame.
Celebrating one of his personal heroes, President Barack Obama praised Nelson Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century, urging the world to carry on his legacy by fighting inequality, poverty and discrimination.
Operation Gingerbread arrived in Albuquerque Tuesday for an event to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The Game and Fish Department is looking for a poacher who killed four deer.