Law student Debanhi Escobar whose body was found in a motel’s water tank was suffocated, Mexican authorities say

Demonstration after the death of Debanhi Escobar, in Monterrey
A woman holds up an award poster during a protest on April 22, 2022 following the death of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student who disappeared on April 9 amid a wave of disappearances of women in the state from Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico.

STRINGER / REUTERS


Mexico City – Investigators said Monday that another autopsy of a young woman whose mysterious death shocked Mexico showed she died of asphyxiation from suffocation due to “blockage of the respiratory tract”.

The autopsy results did not specify what had blocked his nose and mouth. Debanhi Escobar, 18, was found dead in April in partially filled underground motel water tank near the northern city of Monterrey.

Dr. Felipe Takajashi, head of Mexico City’s forensic service, said the latest autopsy of the woman’s exhumed body showed no signs of sexual abuse. He said she died three to five days before her body was found.

Escobar’s remains were found days after she got out of a taxi on a dark highway.

The case made headlines because of a haunting photo taken by the driver who was due to take her home that evening. The driver said she got out of the car on her own accord and said he took the picture to prove she was alive when he left her.

The photo touched the hearts of all Mexico: a young woman standing alone at night on the side of a highway, wearing a skirt and high-top sneakers. The image seemed to speak to the enormous vulnerability and self-confidence – or desperation – of the woman.

She quickly became the symbol of an angry women’s rights movement in Mexico, where a dozen women are murdered every day, observes Agence France-Presse. His death sparked numerous protests.

Demonstration against gender-based violence after the murder of Debanhi Escobar
Women take part in a protest to demand justice for Debanhi Escobar and the thousands of women victims of gender-based violence in Mexico, on April 24, 2022 in Mexico City.

Luis Barron/Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images


Authorities decided an exhumation was necessary following conflicting results from two initial studies.

Nuevo Leon state’s chief medical examiner initially said Escobar died from a blow to the head, but was apparently alive when she entered the cistern and there was no had no water in his lungs.

But another forensic analysis of the original autopsy requested by Escobar’s family concluded that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered.

Her father, Mario Escobar, said prosecutors told him CCTV footage suggested the driver touched his daughter inappropriately.

After the latest findings, he said it was clear his daughter had been murdered, according to AFP.

“My daughter did not die accidentally, that’s my assumption,” he told reporters, according to AFP. But he is still awaiting the results of other ongoing tests in England.

The case is shrouded in mystery. Parts of the motel had already been searched several times before his body was eventually found after a motel employee reported a foul smell coming from the cistern.

Video from motel security cameras suggested that Escobar entered the motel and wandered around, eventually walking off camera in the direction of three cisterns near a swimming pool.

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

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