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A man prepares a cross to mark the grave of Dulce María, whose body was never claimed after she was found dead on a Tijuana sidewalk.

Child’s body was bound for common grave; residents decided otherwise

The body of the unidentified girl, aged between 5 and 10, had been found in a cooler in August

A young girl whose body was found in a cooler in August was saved from being buried in an anonymous, communal grave after residents of the Tijuana neighborhood where she was found banded together to give her a more dignified resting place.

The girl, who authorities say was between 5 and 10 years old when she died, was buried Monday in one of Tijuana’s public cemeteries with a funeral attended by residents of El Pípila neighborhood and by the director of a local orphanage.

“I came because I have a son about her age,” said Aurora, a woman of about 50 who arrived at the burial with her 6-year-old son Aaron in tow. “Nobody deserves to die alone, completely unknown, least of all a creature so young,” she said as she and her son held flowers and a drawing Aaron had made to be buried with the girl.

Dulce María, as she was dubbed by residents after being found dead on August 30, was discovered inside an abandoned cooler on a sidewalk in El Pípila. Although authorities at first said they detected signs of violence, forensic experts later confirmed that she showed no signs of mistreatment, but instead there were indications of cerebral palsy and she had died of pulmonary sepsis.

The body remained unclaimed at a forensic facility for nearly four months while police, who made clear that they were not treating the case as a homicide, waited to see if anyone would come for her.

The service for Dulce María.
The service for Dulce María.

No one ever did, and so the unidentified girl was destined to be buried in a communal grave.

However, El Pípila residents decided that this would not stand. Working with a local orphanage, they contacted forensic authorities and asked to be allowed custody of the girl’s body for a funeral and the proper burial they felt she deserved. Authorities agreed and delivered her body to residents Monday.

Liliana Camacho, director of the Casa Hogar Sonrisa de Ángeles orphanage, gave a eulogy, saying that what had happened to her was not her fault, and that her life, however short, would be an example to others. Camacho said that in the girl’s short period on Earth, she had left behind a legacy: her life had inspired a community to come together.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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