By Tammy Fonce-Olivas
El Paso Times
The woman whose body was found Monday in a desert area in New Mexico a few miles from El Paso's North Hills neighborhood has been identified as a mother of three who was described as a happy and outgoing person, officials and a family member said.
Emely Howard, 31, of El Paso, who was identified after her fingerprints were sent to the FBI, was beaten severely about the head and died from blunt- force trauma, Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office investigator Robyn Gojkovich said.
Officials would not reveal what kind of weapon was used in her death, which has been ruled a homicide.
Investigators suspect an El Paso man identified as Eduardo Duran Estrada, 31, in her slaying.
Estrada was last seen in El Paso on Monday driving a dark- green 2000 Mazda Protege, a four-door car with Texas license plates 868MMR.
Investigators have not determined whether Howard and Estrada knew each other, Gojkovich said.
Howard was last seen on Sunday on Dyer Street. Authorities found her body after Estrada's roommate called El Paso police Monday to tell them he had overheard a conversation indicating a woman had been killed and her body dumped in the New Mexico desert.
He also told police where to find the body.
After his call, El Paso police notified the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office about the tip. Investigators from El Paso and the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office met in a desert area near War Road in New Mexico. The site was less than a mile from the state line, where Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard turns into War Road.
Howard's battered body was found about 50 yards from War Road near junked cars and a no-trespassing sign. Doña Ana county investigators took over the investigation because the body was found in New Mexico.
Gojkovich said the tipster also told police he overheard that a second body had been left in the desert area near Hondo Pass Drive in Northeast El Paso. Police searched the area but found nothing.
Howard was married and had three children. She and her husband, Kenneth Howard, separated about four years ago but never divorced. Kenneth Howard and their children live with him in Houston.
Kenneth Howard said Emely Howard was born in Juárez and grew up in El Paso. She attended Montwood High School. They married in 1999.
"She was happy and outgoing. And she liked to party," Howard said. "She always wanted to get out and do something."
He said their marriage was strained for several reasons, including what he called her habit of frequenting nightclubs.
After they separated, Emely Howard stayed in El Paso. She lived in the Northeast, Kenneth Howard said.
He said they had spoken on the telephone in recent weeks. He said he learned from his brother that she had been killed.
"That really shocked me. I didn't believe it," he said.
His children are also struggling to cope with the loss of their mother. Kenneth Howard said he doesn't know whether Emely Howard knew the man authorities have linked to her slaying.