Monday, June 17, 2024

2 former motel employees charged with obstruction in Debanhi Escobar case

Two women have been ordered to stand trial on charges related to the case of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old student who was allegedly murdered near Monterrey, Nuevo León, last April.

Escobar’s body was found in an underground water tank at a motel in the municipality of General Escobedo on April 21, 2022.

The law student disappeared almost two weeks earlier after getting out of a taxi on a highway in the same municipality. One autopsy found that she died of asphyxia by suffocation, while another determined that she was sexually assaulted before she was murdered. Yet another determined that the young woman died from a blow to to the head after apparently falling into the motel cistern while still alive.

Debanhi Escobar Nuevo Leon law student and alleged femicide
The women who will stand trial told authorities that there was no video footage of Escobar on the motel premises, but investigators searching the motel and their homes seized cell phones and computers containing footage of Escobedo at the motel. (Photo: social media)

The Nuevo León Attorney General’s Office (FGJE) said Monday that a judge had ordered two former employees of the Nueva Castilla Motel — where Escobar’s body was found — to stand trial on charges of concealment and making false declarations to authorities.

Ana Luisa “N” and Elida Yurith “N” are prohibited from leaving the state of Nuevo León before facing trial and must periodically sign in with authorities, the FGJE said on social media. It added that judicial authorities set a period of three months for prosecutors to prepare their case against the women.

Ana Luisa was a manager at the motel while Elida Yurith worked on the front desk. They came under investigation after initially telling authorities that there was no video footage that showed Escobar on the motel property.

Nuevo León authorities subsequently searched the motel and the women’s homes and seized mobile phones, USB flash drives and a laptop on which videos were found. The news website Infobae reported that the footage could help shed light on Escobar’s apparent femicide.

After a Nuevo León judge ruled on Monday that the two former motel employees must stand trial, Escobar’s father told reporters that he and his wife were “happy” with the decision but expressed disappointment that the wheels of justice hadn’t turned more quickly.

“What is being done should have been done eight months ago, but in some ways it’s a breakthrough,” Mario Escobar said.

13 missing girls and women found in Nuevo Leon, Mexico during the search for Debanhi Escobar
The nearly two-week search by authorities for Escobar, fueled by media attention on her case, turned up five girls and women reported missing in Nuevo León, but at least 80 others went missing across Mexico during the same period. (Photo: Nuevo León Attorney General)

The former motel employees will be the first suspects to face trial in connection with the disappearance and death of Debanhi.

The victim’s father said he was confident that authorities will gather more evidence related to his daughter’s case, and that they will identify the perpetrator (or perpetrators) of the alleged femicide and hold them accountable.

“If there are more people who know something, we urge them to … go to the Attorney General’s Office,” Escobar added.

“…The legacy Debanhi leaves us is to not stop in the face of all the injustices. … We’re going to continue fighting so that this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Femicides are common in Mexico, but Escobar’s case attracted major attention both in Mexico and abroad, at least partially because of a haunting photo taken by the taxi driver that showed her standing alone next to the highway in the dark.

With reports from Reforma, El País and Infobae 

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