Lisa Lorene Wortman (22) was found murdered on June 6, 1994 near the University of New Mexico Arena a.k.a The Pit, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lisa was reported missing by her sister and father after she had been gone for almost five weeks.
Lisa’s is the only unsolved homicide case on the UNM campus. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a solid lead for decades now.
What do we know?
According to the Carlsbad Current Argus of June 9, 1994 she was found when a man wondered why his dog kept going to a manhole. The man removed the manhole’s cover and found a partly decomposed and dismembered body. Lisa Wortman was identified by her dental records.
Person of Interest
Whoever killed Lisa in this manner knew her personally or this is the work of a sadist. The fact that her body parts were in a manhole signals not just the hope that they would deteriorate before being found (if ever) but also, that Lisa was murdered elsewhere. In other words, we are looking for someone who knew what to do, had some forensic insight in avoiding identification, had access to tools and a site to commit this crime, or was told what to do by someone else.
As we do not know the point from where Lisa vanished, we could have various (as of yet unknown) crime scenes: the point of Lisa’s vanishing, the place where she was (possibly) held before her murder, if at a separate location then the place of murder and/or dismemberment, the transportation from that place to The Pit, and then to the manhole at UNM.
Traces of cocaine were found (newspapers did not supply more information to indicate if that was enough to kill/die) and her autopsy could not determine a cause of death.
There are no details in the public domain as to what instrument(s) was/were used to dismember her body or, whether there was anything like blunt force trauma to her head meaning knocking her unconscious before killing her. All this might have been helpful for tracing specific kinds of tools, knifes, etc., and thus shops, localities, etc.
Why did Lisa Wortman have to die? Yes, she had an arrest for prostitution and drugs but that can hardly be a motive for dismemberment. The motive for that seems to be: recognition.
Lisa attended UNM but didn’t finish her studies. According to the Albuquerque Journal of June 10, 1994 Lisa studied “chemistry with an eye toward law school (so graduate school studies) in hopes of being an attorney for a pharmaceutical firm.”
Somehow in 1992, things went wrong in Lisa’s life. She was arrested and charged with prostitution. I wonder what made her leave UNM and turn to drugs.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, more information can be found online and in newspaper archives.
We need to get these cases back in the mainstream media, to get people talking again, and if anything, to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are unsolved does not mean that we can forget about them.
With the advances we made in modern forensic sciences, we may have a chance to find clues that previous remained hidden because we didn’t have the technology. Now that we do, let’s review all these old cases once more.
I encourage you to share this post on your own social media platforms. By sharing these posts, the cases reach new networks, new connections, and new online news feeds. Maybe one day these updates will pop up in the right person’s news feed. This may be someone who can actually help advance the case and that is my goal.
Rest in peace, Lisa Lorene Wortman.