Developer keeps promise in West Mesa murder case

Posted at: 05/15/2014 10:08 PM
Updated at: 05/16/2014 8:04 AM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For the first time, a developer revealed a sketch of how it redesigned its subdivision to accommodate a park in honor of the 11 West Mesa murder victims.

KB Home confirmed it will expand its Anderson Heights neighborhood, near 118th Street SW and Amole Mesa Avenue SW, in the next seven months or so.  In 2009, investigators unearthed remains of the 11 women within an undeveloped portion of the subdivision, which sat abandoned after the housing market collapsed.

4OYS: 'Zombie subdivisions' threaten NM communities

Since then, KB Home had promised to donate three acres of land so the city could build a memorial park.  But due to the housing market’s slow recovery, the victims’ families and city leaders weren’t sure if the company would actually commit.  But now they know it will.

“I'm beside myself … beside myself knowing that people at KB Home care,” Dan Valdez said.  Valdez’s daughter, Michelle, was one of the 11 victims.

Valdez said an engineer with KB Home hand-delivered the sketch to him several days ago.

KB Home drafted a three-acre square for the park.  Homes would surround it on the west, south, and east sides.  Amole Mesa Avenue would be along the northern edge.

“This is their property. They didn't have to do it, but they did, out of the kindness of their own hearts,” Valdez said.  “For whatever reason down deep they did it.  They did it and all of the families are grateful.”

He said he occasionally visits the subdivision.  All that’s there today are broken fences, discarded beer bottles, and fast-food wrappers.  There’s nothing permanent to honor the women.  There never has been.

Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez was initially unaware of the sketch until KOB Eyewitness News 4 contacted him, but praised KB Home for coming through on its promise.

“My spirits are lifted,” he said.

Sanchez has been advocating for a park in the women’s honor ever since their bodies were discovered.  He had encouraged KB Home to donate five acres of land, but said if the women’s families were grateful for three acres he would be too.

The city of Albuquerque will ultimately have to approve of the subdivision’s design, along with the park’s design.  It’s unclear when that will occur.

Valdez said he would like the park to be welcoming to the families who eventually move into the subdivision.  He also hopes they’ll reflect on the lives of the women who were buried there.

“To remember back-- that life short,” he said.

He said he looks forward to visiting the park, to celebrate his daughter’s life, once it’s open.