In February 2009, a woman walking her dog in West Mesa, an elevated land mass in Albuquerque, New Mexico, made a grisly discovery embedded in the dirt: a human bone. Upon police arrival, the bone would reveal a mass grave containing 11 women. The women were believed to be murdered by a serial killer, and he has still never been caught.
All the women were sex workers between the ages of 15-32, who went missing between 2001 and 2005. Most were Hispanic, and one of the victims was 4 months pregnant.
During this time, a trailer belonging to a violent man with an affinity for prostitutes sat parked just 3 miles from the burial site. His name was Lorenzo Montoya, and he was killed in 2006—by one of his intended victims.
Due to his history and proximity to the burial site, Montoya is on the short list of murder suspects in the West Mesa Bone Collector Case. Oddly enough, after he was killed the murders stopped. The night he was killed he murdered a woman inside his trailer.
Before the tragic events of that night, Montoya initially popped up on police radar in 1998 when he picked up an undercover officer disguised as a prostitute. The arrest didn’t hinder him from continuing to pick up sex workers; in fact, it only seemed to make him want to do it more.
The following year, Montoya picked up a prostitute and took her to a remote desert road. He sexually assaulted her in his truck. Luckily, police interrupted him as he was attempting to strangle her, and subsequently arrested him.
The sex worker told police that Montoya looked like he enjoyed strangling her, and she was convinced he was going to kill her. Unfortunately, the case was dismissed and Montoya would remain free to terrorize anyone he wanted.
The terror would reach its climax in 2006 when Montoya finally killed someone. When 19-year-old Sherick Hill arrived at Montoya’s mobile home to dance for him, he bound her hands and feet with duct tape, and then strangled her to death.
What Montoya didn’t know was that Hill brought her boyfriend with her for protection. An hour had passed and the boyfriend grew concerned for Hill’s safety. He approached the trailer and Montoya stepped outside with a gun. The boyfriend shot and killed Montoya in self-defense, and then found his girlfriend dead inside.
Police believed Montoya planned to attack and kill Hill from the moment they made contact online earlier that night. With the circumstances of her death, the proximity of Montoya’s home and the burial site, and the fact that the murders stopped following his death, it’s hard to ignore the possibility he was the West Mesa Bone Collector.
Along with Montoya, police suspected another man named Joseph Blea—aka the “Mid-School Rapist.” Blea broke into several homes throughout the 80s and raped young girls between ages 13-15. He is also suspected of murdering a sex worker. He’s currently in prison.
Another suspect was a man named Fred Reynolds, who died of natural causes before the bodies were discovered. He reportedly was a pimp with a connection to one of the victims, and he allegedly had photographs of other victims in the case.
With two suspects having died before the case officially opened, and one being in prison, the police must face a number of obstacles to solve the case. Since 2009, authorities have interviewed over 200 women with similar backgrounds to the victims for any leads. They’ve also fielded over 50 tips from people trying to help solve the case.
The case remains open, and unsolved. There’s a $100,000 reward for any information on the killer, or killers. While the case hasn’t officially been solved, many believe the killer was killed in 2006.
What do you think? Was Lorenzo Montoya the West Mesa Bone Collector, or is the killer still out there hunting women?