Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 36 & Prostitution Mortality Study

As of this posting it has been 36 days since the 118th Street Investigation began. So far only three of the remains have been identified.

Over the weekend a reformed, unidentified prostitute spoke with KOB's Chris Ornelas. She apparently knew Michelle Valdez and Victoria Chavez.

Here’s the report.

Here's an interesting quote from the woman in the report:

“A lot of girls don't have the support out there--nobody to care about them, nobody to take them in to help them.”

The woman also offered a warning during the report, saying the lifestyle is dangerous.

Here’s an older John Hopkins study that I found on the net that talks about the dangers of the profession. The study looked at mortality rates among more than one-thousand prostitutes over a thirty-year period:

Few of the women died of natural causes, as would be expected for persons whose average age at death was 34 years. Rather, based on proportional mortality, the leading causes of death were homicide (19 percent), drug ingestion (18 percent), accidents (12 percent), and alcohol-related causes (9 percent).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Living Near Investigation

Last night neighbors living near the dig site had a meeting with Albuquerque police.

You can see the report here by KOB's Chris Ornelas., the girl is so cute, wonderful!

Living next to a mass grave site like this would certainly be disturbing. As Ornelas reports, neighbors are concerned about remains being found under their homes and on their property.

APD assured them that's likely not the case.

What is interesting is that APD told neighbors the digging could continue for the next two weeks.

As of today, it has been a week since APD has held a press conference about the investigation. So far, as of 9:33 this morning, no word if a press conference will be held to reveal any new details.

In the meantime, APD's spokespeople have been doing one-on-one interviews with reporters.

Last night Tom Joles spoke with Capt. Paul Feist, the lead commander of the 118th Street Investigation. You can see that report here:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

APD's Theories

The Albuquerque Journal's Jeff Proctor writes this morning Chief Ray Schultz has numerous theories behind the mesa mystery, which include a deceased man known to pick up and strangle prostitutes, gangs, a well known pimp, and a vigilante who was "doing the Lord's work."

Here's the article (subscription).

It has almost been a week since the police department held it's latest press conference on the investigation--now known as the 118th Street Investigation.

So far we haven't heard of any new identities and any new remains discovered.

Tonight at 10, KOB's Tom Joles will be airing a piece about the technology investigators are using at the dig site.

Here's a preview.

Tomorrow morning, I expect to go on the air with the Jackie, Tony and Donnie Show to talk about the investigation around 8:30 (100.3 FM).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Police Setup Hotline for Investigation

Albuquerque Police are now turning to the public for help with the 118th Street Investigation. This note was sent out to local media outlets by Officer Nadine Hamby, one of the department's public information officers:

The tip line has been set up for anyone having information about the 118th Street Crime Scene. The number is 1-877-765-8273 which is 1-877-SOLV APD. Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday from noon to midnight there will be several detectives manning the phones if anyone would like to talk or provide information/tips about anything relating to the crime scene. Of course, anyone can call 24/7 if they want to provide information, but specifically on those days and times listed we will have several detectives manning the phones.

Police have not identified any suspects in this case so far. Chief of Police Ray Schultz has said investigators are looking at several past cases involving men who have routinely picked up women on the street.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reporter's Take: The Victims' Background

I'm standing under the hornets nest with this posting. I do hope it'll offer a perspective people have been wondering about--and angry about too.

Over the weekend, it happened. Finally. The human face of this investigation came in the form of a 12-year-old little girl who wasn't afraid to stick up for her mother.

Angelica Garcia revealed that her mom wasn't just a prostitute. She proved to everyone there was more to Michelle Valdez than her criminal record.

But sadly, the dark-side of Valdez can not be ignored, just like the good side can not be written off either.

I've been asked by a lot of people why reporters keep repeating the fact that the two women identified among the remains so far had drug and prostitution arrests.

Some people express distaste, saying those of us in the media are being insensitive.

One of my followers on Twitter brought this up not long after Victoria Chavez's identity was revealed publicly. He said we should ignore her criminal history because the only thing that matters is that she was human.

On the KOB Topix forums, people are attacking the station for reporting these facts. Here's one example among many:

PLEASE KOB, we all now know what these women were into so STOP with it already and just refer to them by their names only! You are heartless fools!

There's no doubt these victims were loved and missed by their families. They were people, each with a name and a story. Their families are now in unimaginable agony realizing their loved one likely had a terrible and very violent end.

And that is why I started this website--to gather ALL the facts, especially the good ones.

But I do ask myself these questions as I cover this story:

Is it my job as a reporter to always paint the victims in a good light?

Is it my job as a reporter to omit facts so I won't offend?

I don't have the perfect answer as to why it's necessary to report their criminal backgrounds--but it is necessary.

For the father who has a college-age daughter living alone in Albuquerque, I hope he has a better understanding of the investigation.

For the woman who has to walk to her car alone at night after work, I hope she is perhaps more at ease.

For the mother whose daughter long disappeared into the dark world of drugs and prostitution, I hope she has hope there could finally be an answer.

And for the young girl who's out with friends who are pushing her to take a hit from a clear-glass pipe, I certainly hope she's heard the news.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Complex Dig Site

There's no doubt someone had or has a secret to hide.

Since February second of this year, Albuquerque police have been focused on the 100-acre site (here's the location) known as Amole Mesa.

Beneath the surface of weeds, illegal dump sites and other trash, police have recovered thirteen remains (as of this posting).

And the work is complex according to Chief of Police Ray Schultz.

On Friday, the Chief told reporters there are two areas within Amole Mesa where police are finding remains. The first is what's called "the pit" and the second is called the "collective remains area."

The pit is where police believe the bodies were originally buried.

Then there's the "collective remains area" near the pit. Back in 2007, construction workers moved some dirt from the pit to prepare for home construction. It's believed the workers were unknowingly spreading around bones and other pieces of remains near and around the pit.

It's almost like putting together several separate jigsaw puzzles when all the pieces are mixed together.

The Chief will not reveal any details when asked what else, if anything, police are finding among the remains.

Profile: Victoria Chavez

Victoria Chavez

Born: May 20th, 1979

Disappeared: 2004

Remains Publicly Identified: February 10, 2009

Victoria Chavez, according to her stepfather, was also a mother of two. She was last seen in March of 2004. She apparently worked at Bob's Burger's on Central and Atrisco just before she vanished.

Her stepfather, in this report, tells KOB she came home from work one evening and took off with an unknown man. That's the last time she was seen.

Chavez has had numerous run-ins with police, which include drug and prostitution charges.

She was 24 when she vanished.
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