Mexico fires 2 officials in probe of young woman’s death

Apr 27, 2022, 3:45 AM | Updated: 6:21 pm
Flowers on the facade of the Attorney General's office surround an image of Debanhi Escobar during ...

Flowers on the facade of the Attorney General's office surround an image of Debanhi Escobar during a protest against the disappearance of Escobar and other women who have gone missing, in Mexico City, Friday, April 22, 2022. The protest against femicide was triggered after Escobar's decomposing body was recently found in a subterranean water tank at a motel when workers reported foul odors coming from the water holding tank. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two prosecution officials were fired Wednesday over “omissions and errors” in the search for a missing woman found dead last week in northern Mexico, authorities said.

Gustavo Guerrero, attorney general of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, did not describe what errors the two officials may have committed.

But the motel where the young woman’s body was found in an underground water holding tank had previously been searched several times before her body was finally found, only after a motel employees reported a foul odor coming from the cistern.

The case of Debanhi Escobar, 18, shocked Mexico, after a taxi driver took a photo of her standing alone on the side of a highway on the night she disappeared.

The two fired officials — the state anti-kidnapping prosecutor and the missing-persons prosecutor — were apparently involved in the search, which included taking sniffer dogs into the motel.

But almost a week after her body was finally found, far from being solved, the case has become more complicated.

Prosecutors showed video from the motel’s security cameras suggesting Escobar had entered the motel and wandered around, eventually walking off camera in the direction where three cisterns are located near a swimming pool.

Some reports had suggested the woman may have fallen into one of the cisterns and died accidentally. But prosecutors said her body was found in one tank, her handbag in another, and her cellphone and keys were found in a third.

Eduardo Villagomez, the state’s head medical examiner, said the woman died of a blow to the head. But he said that she was apparently alive when she entered the cistern and that there was no water in her lungs.

Asked how that was possible, he said: “She stood up. The water was 90 centimeters (three feet) deep.”

The case made headlines because of a haunting photo taken by a driver who was supposed to get her home that night. It was not clear why she got out of the car, but her father, Mario Escobar, has said prosecutors told him that surveillance camera footage suggested the driver inappropriately touched his daughter.

“I suppose that my daughter did not put up with the harassment,” the father said.

The driver has been questioned, and said she got of the car on her own decision. Mario Escobar said the driver may not have killed his daughter but he holds him responsible for her death.

The driver, who worked for a taxi app, took the photo to show Debanhi got out of his car alive April 9 on the outskirts of the city of Monterrey.

Nobody saw her until last Thursday, when investigators managed to pull her body from the cistern.

Critics are disturbed by the fact that even when Mexican authorities are spurred to act by public outcry, investigations are seldom very timely or efficient.

During the week that investigators said 200 personnel used drones, search dogs and reviews of security camera footage to look for Escobar, her body was lying not far from where she had been last seen.

Killings of women have increased in recent years in Mexico, rising from 977 cases in 2020 to 1,015 in 2021. And those were just cases classified as “feminicides” a legal term used in Mexico when women are killed because of their gender. Killings of women overall are much higher.

Disappearances of women are also high, with about 1,600 reported missing so far this year. Officials say 829 of them are still listed as missing, and 16 were found dead.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges.
1 day ago
UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) shoots while defended by Gonzaga's Rasir Bolton (45) in the first half...
Associated Press

Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Strawther’s shot

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA's Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 NCAA Tournament win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
1 day ago
Associated Press

Officials: Safety device, human error derailed Wash. train

A safety device failed, knocking a train off the tracks last week, spilling diesel after leaving an oil refinery in Anacortes.
1 day ago
File - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability...
Associated Press

What the Fed rate increase means for your credit card bill

The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by another quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive.
2 days ago
police lights distracted drivers shooting...
Associated Press

Authorities: Missing mom, daughter in Washington found dead

A missing Washington state woman and her daughter were found dead Wednesday, according to police.
2 days ago
Associated Press

Google’s artificially intelligent ‘Bard’ set for next stage

Google announced Tuesday it's allowing more people to interact with “ Bard,” the artificially intelligent chatbot the company is building to counter Microsoft's early lead in a pivotal battleground of technology.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Mexico fires 2 officials in probe of young woman’s death