Families of missing women ask city to keep searching West Mesa

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An Albuquerque mother said she held out hope when construction crews discovered bones on the West Mesa last week. Now, she said her last hope is for the city of Albuquerque to help bring some closure to the remaining families.

“Like an open wound,” Theresa Fresquez said. “Being that my daughter has been missing for 14 years, it was a relief.”

Last Tuesday, Mayor Tim Keller said construction crews found human remains buried at an undeveloped neighborhood park near 118th and Dennis Chavez.

Four days later, the city confirmed that the bones found were not connected to the West Mesa murders.

In 2009, the bones of 11 women, one of whom was pregnant, were discovered. When the Office of the Medical Investigator announced the bones, found Tuesday, were prehistoric, Fresquez said she relived the pain from nine years ago.

“My heart just fell to the ground,” she said. “Back to waiting and worrying if she’s alive or dead.”

For years, the Albuquerque Police Department has said there are at least six other women who went missing from 2001-2006, who were never found. Fresquez’s daughter, Nina Herron, is one of them. 

“We’ve always cared about this case, we’ve always cared about the victims,” Officer Simon Drobik said. “We understand the victims’ families out there that still don’t have closure, and we want to work really hard for them.”

Herron went missing in 2005. She was only 21. Fresquez said she still remembers the last time she saw her daughter. 

“She would come, cook, do the dishes and see her son like she did that time, and then she left,” Fresquez said. 

For Fresquez, days turned to weeks then eventually years. She said she’s confided in friends like Lupe Lopez-Haynes, who she met at a candlelight vigil around the time the 11 women were found.

Lopez-Haynes said her sister, Beatrice Marie Lopez Cubelos, went missing nearly 30 years ago. She’s never been found.

“It’s painful,” Lopez-Haynes said. “You keep it with you, in the heart. It’s with you when you wake up, when you got to bed.”

She’s joined Fresquez and her mission to help bring closure to the families of the other missing women. She started an online petition, addressed to Mayor Tim Keller. 

“We need to speak to the mayor and the chief of police, that is a must,” Lopez-Haynes said. “I want every one of the archeologists who are digging to remain digging, no matter what. I believe in my heart that they’re our only hope right now to find those human remains.”

APD said construction crews plan to start grading and sifting through the land again soon, but could not say when. 

“From what we understand the general contractor is going to sub-contract out to have an archeologist on-site when they do start moving dirt around,” Officer Drobik said.

APD also plans to have officers there as construction on the park continues.

“Possible evidence could come up and we don’t want to walk away from it,” Officer Drobik said.

Fresquez said she has one message for everyone out there working in this empty lot.

“We have daughters, sisters, aunts and mothers that are still out there. Don’t give up on us,” she said.

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