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Bones of six bodies found in New Mexico desert

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  • NEW: Police investigating cases of missing prostitutes
  • Only one body identified; she was a prostitute last seen in 2003
  • The bones of six bodies found in desert west of Albuquerque
  • Authorities fear remains of even more bodies might be buried there
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(CNN) -- Police digging for clues in the deaths of six people found in the New Mexico desert hope the identification of one set of bones will generate leads.

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, police forensics team member digs last week at the burial site.

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, police forensics team member digs last week at the burial site.

The remains of Victoria Chavez and five other people were found in a 92-acre area housing development under construction just west of Albuquerque.

Chavez was a prostitute and drug user who was last seen in 2003 and reported missing in 2004, Albuquerque police said.

The six bodies were found after a woman walking her dog found a human bone two weeks ago and notified police, said John Walsh, Albuquerque police spokesman.

Authorities have not yet identified the other five sets of bones but say they might find others. Attempting to piece together identities could take a long time because, they said, "it's very difficult" to determine cause of death from skeletal remains.

"We're going off of one remain so far," Walsh said. "And that's all we've got at the moment. We've only got skeletal remains.

"This is a slow go," Walsh said. "Things won't pop up in hours, likely in weeks."

Chavez's remains were identified through dental records that her family provided when she was reported missing in 2004. It will be tougher to identify the others. For example, one had no dental work and another had no skull.

The cause of Chavez's death was not known, but Walsh speculated that her death could be related to violent sex trade.

He said police are looking at reports of missing prostitutes over the years and are trying to determine possible suspects. He said he hopes family members of those missing could help authorities.

Police are trying to figure out how the bodies got there. They are investigating the possibility that one person put the bones there.

"At this stage, the best way I can describe it, we have a handful of theories," Walsh said.

The names of two dead men have surfaced during the investigation of Chavez's death, Walsh said, confirming a news report.

One was a pimp who died of natural causes. The other was killed by a pimp after he killed a prostitute, the report said.

The last set of remains exhumed at the site was nine or 10 feet deep. Authorities were using heavy and light equipment and cadaver dogs to find bodies and clues.

Investigators think there could be even more remains buried on the New Mexico site.

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