This past April, we had the honor of meeting Liz Thomson, law enforcement veteran and strangulation expert, Retired Albuquerque Police Department Sergeant/Homicide Unit Supervisor. Over the seven years she spent in homicide, Sergeant Thomson logged the names of every murder victim in her city and kept that list with her. By the time she retired in December 2017, she had tracked the deaths of 240 victims, and in May 2019, Liz set out on a 200 mile walk to honor each of them.
Liz joined the Albuquerque Police Department in 1999. Her career included patrol, crisis intervention team, crisis negotiation team, crisis outreach & support team, and supervising patrol officers and detectives. She was assigned to the APD’s Homicide Unit from October 19, 2012 until her retirement on December 23, 2017. The unit was responsible for the investigation of homicides, suspicious deaths, suspicious suicides, non-fatal violent crimes, and officer involved shootings.
During her time in homicide, Sergeant Thomson maintained handwritten logs of all the cases her unit investigated. “There was something about writing the names of the murdered victims,” Liz explained. “Knowing they would no longer write their names and now I would, broke my heart. I kept the logs, intending to someday pay tribute to these people.”
Driven by the belief that “every death was a loss and every person deserved justice”, Sergeant Thomson kept her promise to “memorialize the 240 people who were murdered in Albuquerque, New Mexico during my watch,” putting plans in motion, upon her retirement.
Her memorial became reality on May 22 of this year, when Liz headed out on a two week trek in Spain, covering more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) from León to Santiago de Compostela along the El Camino de Santiago, a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that date back to the 9th century. The retired Sergeant marked the miles she covered by saying the names, one by one, every 15 minutes, of each of the 240 homicide victims she had logged. “We all made the journey together.”
The names Liz voiced on her memorial walk are “of those whose deaths were believed at the time to be a result of murder as defined by law.” The logs she kept also included the names from investigations of suspicious deaths, suspicious suicides, non-fatal violent crimes, and officer involved shootings.
“Every victim is someone’s loved one,” Liz shared. “I walked for them.”