The father of an 18-year-old Nuevo León woman whose body was found in an underground water tank at a motel on Thursday asserted Friday that the state Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) is partially to blame for his daughter’s death.
The FGJ “didn’t do its job,” Mario Escobar told reporters, asserting that it should have done more to locate his daughter, Debanhi Escobar, while she was still alive.
“…My daughter is dead because of incompetent people, because of people who harass … young women, because of sexual harassers,” he said.
Debanhi Escobar disappeared on the night of April 8 after getting out of a taxi on the highway between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey in General Escobedo, a municipality that is part of the Monterrey metropolitan area.
Mario Escobar said Friday that prosecutors told him that footage showed the taxi driver touching his daughter’s breasts.
“I suppose that my daughter did not put up with the harassment,” he said, explaining her apparent reason for getting out of the taxi early. “It’s harassment where the attorney general says there is no harassment. I publicly accuse [the taxi driver] Juan David Cuéllar for all this.”
Escobar said that the taxi driver – who has been arrested – triggered his daughter’s death by putting her in a vulnerable situation. After getting out of the taxi, Debanhi asked for help at Alcosa, a transport company.
Escobar said that some of the company’s security footage had inexplicably disappeared. It is unclear what happened to Debanhi after she sought help at Alcosa.
A decomposing body that is believed to be hers was found Thursday in a subterranean water tank at a General Escobedo motel nor far from where Debanhi got out of the taxi.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía said that the body had a crucifix necklace and clothing that Debanhi was wearing the night she disappeared. “The alert was sounded by hotel workers, because of the fetid odors coming from the area,” he said.
Escobedo rejected an FGJ theory that his daughter had fallen into the tank and drowned. “It’s a lie,” he said, adding that the authorities must do everything they can to apprehend those responsible so that “there is no danger” to other women.
President López Obrador said Friday that the federal Attorney General’s Office could carry out an investigation into the case.
Nuevo León Security Minister Aldo Fasci questioned why the body wasn’t found until the FGJ’s fifth visit to the motel.
“It’s a massive human failure – they were there four times and found nothing,” he said.
Escobedo suggested his daughter’s body was planted there. “Why does it appear the fifth [time they looked]?” he asked. “Question. Did they plant it [there]?”
Nuevo León Governor Samuel García called on the FGJ to release all the evidence it has gathered about the case.
“I urge the Attorney General’s Office to … today make known … the videos, photos, evidence [as well as] searches and routines [carried out] because I firmly believe we have the right to know what is in the investigation so that the truth comes to light,” he said in a video message Friday.
“We have the right to be informed,” said García, who acknowledged that “everything seems to indicate” that the body is Debanhi’s but added that we “obviously we have to wait for an autopsy.”
Femicides – murders of women and girls on account of their gender – are common in Mexico, but impunity for such crimes is high. Nuevo León has recently seen a spate of disappearances of women, leading the governor to announce last week the implementation of a protocol to expedite searches for missing women and girls.
Debanhi’s case, the Associated Press reported, “made headlines because of a haunting photo taken by a driver who was supposed to take her home that night.”
“… The driver, who worked for a taxi application, took the photo to show Escobar got out of his car alive on April 8 on the outskirts of the city of Monterrey. There she was, a young woman standing alone at night on the side of a highway, wearing a skirt and high-top sneakers,” AP said.