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Dear Editor and Readers:
I have been meaning to write for several weeks. A man wrote to your paper regarding his opinion that perhaps it is time to remove photos of a murdered woman from Placitas. I must dissent! My view is so opposite of his that I believe more photos need to be placed, and should reach far beyond Placitas.
I dissent because of the very reason it has taken me weeks to respond. Everyday life, work, and family have occupied my time. But I need the photos of Carla as a reminder in a hectic day that I am lucky. Lucky to be alive and to be so busy.
I did not know Carla, but I am a young woman with a young daughter. My worst fear is not to be around to raise my daughter. Everyone in this community, in this state needs the reminder that there is a brutalizer of women among us, so we do not become complacent.
Perhaps the gentleman who wrote the letter should read the recent Albuquerque Journal article about Tara Calico, missing now for fifteen years. Tara’s case is unsolved, yet her photos can still be seen in stores and on bulletin boards in Wal-Mart. The Journal stated that in a store someone provided a tip after having been reminded of Tara. This tip is being actively researched, per the article, by law enforcement.
The reason we cannot take down Carla’s photos, not this year, or even next year, or even in the next fifteen years is that one person with that one lead may need to be prompted by the photos. So a husband, two children, a mother, many friends, and a community—including myself—can know a killer’s been caught. Because right now, a killer of a young woman (or women) still walks and watches among us!
I would like to again thank all my family and friends who have helped to keep the murder of Carla Salinas Simmons in the public eye. This truly demonstrates the beauty of our community, and I thank you all for letting me continue the search for “Who Killed Carla?”
—Margaret (Carla’s best friend for thirty-eight years)
To help explain a little more about the people in the community, here is a poem I wrote about an encounter with a stranger I met at the Placitas Mini Mart.
August 19, 2000
The Stranger in Red
Who was she, this stranger in red.
She came into my life for that brief, but
She knows nothing about me, yet she knows
me so well.
I look away in fear, but I look back with
This stranger in red, she has compassionate
Reaching out to me, calling to my pain,
Saying all the right words, and yet, no words
She speaks directly to my heart,
Her hands stretched out across a mountain
No matter what the embrace might bring,
She holds on tight, this stranger in red.
She holds me like she knows me.
Unafraid to hear my words, in her arms, I
A soft whisper, I miss her.
Bodies trembling, our spirits connected.
She reads me like an open book,
Pages of familiar lines, from a novel she
How does she know who I am, this stranger
She reads the posters, but then so many have.
What makes her different from the others?
What draws her to the answer, to a question
she never asks?
Who brought this stranger to me,
Who crossed my path that day?
She filled me full of hope, with an unspoken
And then she walked away….
Happy birthday, Carla.I wish I could be with you now. I know you’re with me instead. Thanks for sending me the stranger in red. Ineeded that so much, I love you always. —Margaret.
After reading the well-written and compelling letters in last month’s Signpost relating to the murder of Carla Simmons, my opinion on the disposition of the signs has changed dramatically. Those of us that weren’t touched personally by this tragedy can afford, I suppose, to take the position that seeing the signs makes us uncomfortable and reminds us that this is indeed a hostile world. Hearing the outcry of emotion from Margaret, Carla’s friend, and Rick Simmons, her widower, brought Carla’s murder back into my consciousness in a way that touched me in a much more personal way.
My previous letter was written from my head rather than my heart. Carl Weiner’s letter and the discussion that has followed has reawakened us to the plight of Carla’s friends and family. I feel strongly that our community should assist in any way we can to help bring closure to the family and friends, and hopefully to the case. I now feel that if these signs have any ability to help in the investigation, find those responsible, keep Carla’s memory alive in our hearts and minds, and give comfort to those who knew and loved her, they should stay in place.
Placitas Chamber of Commerce
A friend earns her living as a realtor. Lately her signs in La Mesa have been coming down as fast as she can put them back up. Whoever is taking the signs down probably objects to their presence in the neighborhood. But consider this: your neighbors are trying to sell their home. These signs are helping potential buyers find a home. When you take these signs down you are making it more difficult for your neighbors to sell their home. This may not be a concern to you right now. But someday you may want, or be forced to sell your home. Then how are you going to feel when some NIMBY (not in my backyard) neighbor decides to take your signs down?
Placitas Trails subdivision was once a very safe, quiet, and secluded place to live. No longer. Three thefts in one weekend in Placitas Trails West is just an example of the violations we have had to endure.
And why? Changes! Makes you think twice about how the increased traffic, construction noise and negative changes caused by a well-known development has impacted us here in Trails in subtle ways—beer can trash around our mail boxes never seen before—intimidation by home builders who think they are above the law to stop at stop-signs (public record)—endurance of the speedway now that connects 165 to Tierra Madre with only one posted sign: 25mph. What a joke.
Action item: Please ask the developers to put a stop sign at the intersection of Trails Road East and Anasazi Trails Road for traffic coming off that new subdivision so that all of those folks must stop, too—and that's fair. And it's right—and safe. And even more imaginative, please ask the developers to put up several stop signs on the current speedway from Tierra Madre Rd. to 165 through Anasazi Trails subdevelopment. That would be truly_acting_ "community"—because we all know that words and actions are two different things.
I just read a note from Mr. Chuck Moseman of the Shell Pipeline Company. The letter was in response to the proposed pipeline which would have sent hazardous fuel through an aging pipeline in the town of Placitas. The project was recently terminated. In the note he indicated that "Shell's decision to terminate the project was made after a review of the project's economics".
I do know that one of the major reasons for the change in plans was because of the unflinching work and dedication of Carol Parker and the Citizens for Safe Pipelines in Placitas. Just a short note to thank Carol and all the other people who worked so hard to get all of the issues clearly delineated and discussed. One never knows for sure, but it's certainly possible that the work of Carol and her committee may have ultimately saved lives and property in Placitas in the long run.
The latest issue of the Signpost arrived recently, a happy mixture of the personal and the professional Belknaps. We noted from the bylines that Ty assigned himself to two choice events, the indecent exposure episode at Spence Hot Springs and the seventieth anniversary of Silva’s Saloon. An exciting life led in the line of duty.
Barb’s lively article on Gary Priester must have pleased him. Also the “Ode to a Canoe” written by both of you about your adventures on the Chama River was lively with touches of humor and must have been fun to write.
This is only a cursory review of an especially good issue of your paper which seemed much more vibrant with excellent articles from several of your contributing writers. I was especially taken with the editorial by Carl Hertel properly criticizing George Bush for “wagging his tongue.” I fully agree, naturally, that Bush’s speeches are empty rhetoric, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. I also appreciated the references to George Orwell, whose essays on empty political language I used in my writing classes at the U. of Mich.
Here’s one loud cheer from Michigan for all.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
[Editor’s note: Thanks, Uncle Jim!]