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City Leaders Open the Women’s Memorial Park with Blessing and Dedication

Honoring the women and their families as park opens for celebration, remembrance, and reflection.

June 27, 2020

Today, Mayor Tim Keller, City Councilor Klarissa Peña, the Parks and Recreation Department, and other City and State leaders opened the Women’s Memorial Park with a blessing and dedication to honor and celebrate the women who lost their lives. Many of the women’s families and friends were on hand to see their loved one’s memorial. Deacon Juan Barrajas performed the blessing of this sacred land and Mariachi’s serenaded everyone in attendance.

Women's Memorial Park Blessing

“The dedication of Women’s Memorial Park marks a significant moment not only for the families, but for our entire city,” stated Mayor Keller. “My sincere hope is that this park may serve as a symbol of the love these families have for these women, and a source of peace and healing for all who visit.”

City and State leaders who contributed to the project and spoke today included; State Senators Linda Lopez and Michael Padilla, Sander Rue, and Bill O’Neill, State Representatives Patricia Roybal Caballero, Javier Martinez, and Christine Trujillo, and City Councilors Cynthia Borrego and Lan Sena, and APD Southwest Area Commander Timothy Espinoza. Councilor Peña also recognized the late City Councilor Ken Sanchez for his efforts in getting the park built.

The Women’s Memorial Park is located at the site where the remains of eleven women and an unborn child were discovered in 2009, but today as the park opened, there was a celebration of the women’s lives and who they were as daughters, mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends.

The women we lost much too soon are;

Jamie Barela

Monica Candelaria

Victoria Chavez

Virginia Cloven

Sylannia Edwards

Cinnamon Elks

Doreen Marquez

Julie Nieto

Veronica Romero

Evelyn Salazar

Michelle Valdez and her Unborn child

The park design was approved by the families and they were instrumental in selecting trees, shrubbery, benches, and other design features. The name of each woman is etched into the oval-shaped path around the park. Across from each name sits a bench and a tree specially selected by the families. The site is considered very sacred to the families of the women who were discovered buried there. The cases are still under investigation, but the City of Albuquerque hopes that the Memorial Park will offer a sense of comfort to the families for celebration, remembrance, and reflection.

“Today is a beautiful day,” said Councilor Peña. “This land and dirt had carried so much negativity. I’m honored that today, we have literally turned this dirt and land into a positive and sacred space for family members and our community. Today’s event, and this park are about the celebration of life. I’m hopeful this park provides some closure for families and allows them to honor their loved ones with the respect they deserve.”

The park also features a special plaque for Mr. Dan Valdez, who is Michelle Valdez’s father, as he spearheaded the effort to memorialize his daughter and the other women. Without his efforts, this park would not have been built. There’s also a plaque for “Rucca” the dog who first discovered the women’s bodies while on a walk.

The park’s total cost was $1.2 million and was funded from City GO Bonds, City Councilor Set-Asides, and State Capital Outlay.