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death in a read desert new mexico

A bisexual, his cross-dressing boyfriend and a woman out to save him clash in a bizarre lover's triangle that ends in her strangulation. A confession to friends by murderers Chris Faviell and Charles Martinez prompts a failed search for Elizabeth Lankhorst-Ballard's body, but it takes a cadaver dog and a chance change of wind direction to lead detectives to her skeletal remains in the vast red desert outside of Tularosa, New Mexico.

The case left its mark nationally as the first time DNA was extracted from a dog root hair. The hair from Hercules, the pit bull owned by Martinez, became embedded in Ballard's socks during the struggle for her life and later was matched to samples plucked from the dog by police. The match placed Ballard in the home rented by Martinez and Faviell and helped convict Martinez of 1st-degree murder.