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Help still needed identifying 3 women in murder investigation - KOAM TV 7

Help still needed identifying three women in New Mexico multiple murder investigation

Authorities need your help identifying the women below.
If you have any information please call 1-877-765-8273.

News releases

APD is Seeking Help in Identifying Women - December 9, 2010, by the Albuquerque Police Department

Mayor increases Reward for West Mesa Murder Case - Unknown date, by the Albuquerque Mayor's office

Cold Case File:  West Mesa Serial Killer (includes photos and ID of victims) - by the Albuquerque Police Department

Updated December 14, 2010 at 1:25 PM CST:  Authorities say at least three women have been identified in photos released to the public.  The New Mexico case, which involves a number of dead or missing women, extended to Joplin last August where local businessman Ron Erwin's photography studio and homes were searched.

Investigators say Erwin fully cooperated and has not been named a suspect.

Authorities have not said where they obtained the latest pictures.

The woman pictured below, Christina Leyba, has been identified.  She passed away a couple of years ago from health issues.

Albuquerque police say the two women pictured below are both alive and well, though authorities are not releasing their names to the public.

Investigators still need identifications for three women - pictured to the right.

Last week authorities said the women could be additional victims in the multiple murder case.

Updated December 13, 2010 at 5:40 PM CST:  Authorities in West Mesa, New Mexico have identified one of the women whose photos we showed last week.

The woman is Christina Leyba.  According to her brother she died a few years ago of health related complications.

An Albuquerque police spokesperson says they have received a number of tips from the public, and even more after they aired a special on Dateline last Friday.

The New Mexico case, which involves a number of dead or missing women, has extended to Joplin, where local businessman Ron Erwin's photographer studio and homes were searched.

Authorities say Erwin cooperated fully with the search and has not been named a suspect.

Updated December 9, 2010 at 1:05 PM CST:  Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico have released new pictures in a multiple murder investigation.

In 2009 Albuquerque police unearthed the bodies of 11 women who were buried in the West Mesa on the outskirts of the city.

Ten of those women were involved in drugs and prostitution and all have similar characteristics.

Now police are releasing the pictures of 7 more women who they need help identifying.

The Albuquerque police chief says they acquired the photographs during their investigation into the murders but will not say how.  They are saying the way in which they obtained the photographs is why they think these women could be more victims.

The investigation into the discovery of those 11 bodies led authorities to Joplin in early August.

Local businessman and photographer, Ron Erwin, was the subject of a search by FBI and Albuquerque police.

His photography business on Main Street was searched along with two of his homes.

Police did not name him as a suspect nor have they said what they were looking for.

Erwin has said he was surprised by the police interest in him and has not yet commented on the investigation.

Updated August 31, 2010 at 7:08 PM CST:  Authorities investigating serial killings in New Mexico might take some time sorting through evidence collected in Joplin.

Early this month officers raided a downtown Joplin photography studio and two Joplin homes, both owned by businessman Ron Erwin.

Authorities said the investigation stemmed from the murders of eleven women in the Albuquerque area.

Boxes of materials were removed from the buildings but investigators have never said exactly what those boxes contained.

Now the Albuquerque Journal says the Albuquerque police chief is finally talking about that material.

The newspaper quotes Police Chief Ray Schultz as saying authorities collected tens of thousands of photos and business-type records, and that investigators will need at least a month to go through the material.

Also according to the paper, Schultz claims authorities have established that Erwin visited Albuquerque around the time of the state fair during the years some of the women disappeared.

Investigators have never called Erwin a suspect in the case.

Erwin has called the entire investigation "too weird".

Updated August 4, 2010 at 10:08 PM CST:  The feds collected evidence after executing search warrants at several places in the Four States, but they appear to be finished and no charges have been filed against Ron Erwin, the man who owned the places being looked at.

Erwin's description of the events when reached by phone was "all of this is too weird".

Erwin also told the Associated Press "I'm not hiding... I'm right here."

FBI agents and police from New Mexico searched two homes and a business owned by Erwin yesterday.

Evidence was loaded into a trailer, but agents would not say what they found, what they were looking for or how the investigation led to Erwin in Joplin.

We do know this is part of an investigation involving a mass grave near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Police were called to an area slated for development last spring.

They uncovered the bodies of 11 women who disappeared in between 2003 and 2005.

Officers say all but one had a history of drugs and or prostitution in the Albuquerque area.

Ron Erwin's mother says her son did travel to New Mexico in years past for a fair.

Police are not calling Erwin a suspect in the homicides, but instead of person of interest and also say he is one of many.

In fact, the Joplin search warrant was the sixth served in the investigation.

Erwin also owns Fox Farm Whole Foods and it was open for business today.

Police closed it yesterday while serving the search warrants.

Erwin says he is going to talk to his attorney releasing any public statements.

Updated August 4, 2010 at 7:53 PM CST:  Agents investigating the murders of 11 women in New Mexico appear to have completed their search of a Joplin man's homes and business.

Yesterday FBI agents, local police and officers from the Albuquerque Police Department searched the Ron Erwin photography studio.  They also searched two of Erwin's homes in Joplin.

Authorities would not say what they were looking for or what evidence lead them to search Erwin's properties.

One thing officials did say was that the warrants were in connection to the discovery of the bodies in the Albuquerque desert last year.

Today one of Erwin's businesses, Fox Farm Whole Foods, was back open.

The search of Erwin's property was the sixth warrant served in this massive homicide investigation.

We spoke to Erwin today and while he declined to give a statement until speaking with his attorney, Erwin did say all of this is too weird.

No charges have been filed against Erwin and authorities are not calling him a suspect.

Posted August 3, 2010 at 10:41 PM CST:  Authorities search a business and two homes in Joplin in connection with 11 unsolved murders in New Mexico.

The business and homes searched today belong to Joplin businessman Ron Erwin.  His homes are among the locations being searched, including his current home residence at 2518 Ohio.

Agents with the FBI are on the scene conducting searches that stem from a multiple murder case in New Mexico.

At this time Erwin has not been named a suspect.  Officials say they received a tip that led them to Erwin's business the first Missouri locations they have searched in relation to the case.

Agents served warrants at Erwin's photography studio in downtown Joplin this morning.  Erwin is known to travel to many Asians countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and India, where he takes photos.

At the same time, another search was conducted at an old home of Erwin's on 26th Street.  Agents wearing white jump suits could be seen coming and going from the home.  Fox Farm Foods, one of Erwin's businesses, is temporarily closed today.

Erwin started that business but also had been known for his collectibles store called Eccentric.  It closed last month.

Erwin did not answer calls today.

Two former employees we spoke to both say he was a good boss and both say he is not a killer.

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