The body of butterfly conservationist Homero Gómez González was found Wednesday in a well in the municipality of Ocampo, Michoacán, where he went missing on January 13.
Following a fruitless two-week search effort by three levels of government and over 200 local residents, the body was ultimately found by the owner of the property on which the well is located as he took care of his livestock.
The Michoacán Attorney General’s Office (FGE) said that the corpse showed no signs of violence and that the most likely cause of death was drowning, but it is still awaiting the results of the autopsy.
Relatives of the environmentalist and head administrator of the El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary in Angangueo, Michoacán, said they were unable to make a definite identification due to the decomposition of the body.
“I went to identify [the body], but it is very disfigured and I was unable to make out his face,” said Gómez’s brother Amado.
Although authorities assured him that the body was indeed his brother’s, Amado Gómez requested they perform a DNA test. He said that although the corpse’s size matched his brother’s, the clothing was not his and the mustache was different.
Gómez’s relatives said that he had been threatened by criminal gangs before his disappearance.
After he went missing, the FGE questioned 53 police officers from Ocampo and Angangueo but obtained no leads.
Amado Gómez said that after his brother’s disappearance was announced to the public, his family fell victim to extortion campaigns offering the activist’s freedom in exchange for a ransom.
They paid 50,000 pesos (US $2,700), but it did not buy Gómez’s freedom. Instead, they received another call demanding 200,000 pesos, which they did not pay following the FGE’s warning that they were being extorted.
Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles expressed his condolences on Twitter.
“We recognize Homero Gómez as a tireless activist and defender of the forests who distinguished himself by his permanent and coordinated work with institutions,” he said.
A vigil will be held for Gómez and he will be buried in his hometown of Ocampo.