ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some of the charges against a suspected serial rapist, allegedly at work in the metro for years, were dropped Tuesday. Prosecutors say they faced an unexpected twist in the case.
It was May of 2009 when a woman told Bernalillo County deputies that she was walking along Isleta Boulevard in the South Valley when a man in a white pickup truck offered her a ride.
The woman thought the driver was a friend of her uncle’s who was supposed to pick her up. But the man began to get aggressive with her, punched her in the face, choked her, then raped her.
A rape kit was done, but it sat on a shelf for nearly 10 years. It was finally tested last year, and the DNA was a match for Celso Montano. It’s a name police have heard before.
“Based on what we’re hearing from the women, based on the telltale signs of what appears to be a serial rapist, that there’s the potential for more victims out there,” said Tasia Martinez with the Albuquerque Police Department in a 2012 interview.
At the time, Montano was accused of raping four other women. But last week he was finally charged in the 2009 case.
His detention hearing was supposed to take place Tuesday morning, but prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case because the alleged victim died the week before Montano was even charged.
The District Attorney’s Office said the victim was dropped off at UNM Hospital as a Jane Doe. A spokesperson said their office will continue to examine the case, re-evaluate evidence, and work to move forward with the case without the victim; instead, using physical evidence and her statements to this point.
But it raises a big question about all the other rape kits that have gone untested, and how many others could wind up like this.
“A clear majority are not, or have not been processed because the victim specifically…the victim, did not want to prosecute,” said former Albuquerque Police Chief in an interview the same year this 2009 case was reported.
KRQE News 13 has since learned that was not the case for many of the untested kits. On Tuesday, APD said so far, it’s sent out more than 3,400 kits for testing, received results for more than 2,700 of those, and have uploaded 755 profiles into a DNA database.
The DA’s office says the last time they spoke with the victim in the 2009 case was in early October. They say she was excited to proceed with the prosecution of the case.
As for the other rape cases, Montano has already pled to lesser charges in those cases. Because these latest charges have been dropped, Montano is a free man.