The family of a man from the United States who was killed in Guerrero earlier this month has released a statement that reveals new details about the death of their father and his Mexican wife.
Paul Nielsen of Utah and Janet Vázquez of Puebla were shot in the early hours of July 18 while traveling from Acapulco to Zihuatanejo with their 12-year-old son. Reports published last week said that community police allegedly committed the crime.
A statement from Nielsen’s children from his first – and still current – marriage, which cites the boy’s account of events, said that three vehicles began chasing the car in which their father was traveling.
Vázquez shouted that they were going to be attacked after which Nielsen accelerated and the people pursuing their car opened fire, the statement said.
Nielsen lost control of his vehicle and crashed on the side of the road. The aggressors pulled him, his wife and stepson out of the car, robbed them and placed them in another vehicle, the statement said.
The family said it was unclear at what point Nielsen and Vázquez were killed but explained that they were driven to another location where their bodies were dumped on the side of the road.
Kevin Rojas Vázquez was abandoned with his deceased mother and stepfather and tried to flag down passing motorists “but no one paid attention until the state police arrived.”
Earlier reports said that he too had been shot but Nielsen’s family said that wasn’t the case. Kevin is now living with relatives, they said.
The statement said that the boy is “very traumatized” and hasn’t been able to provide all the details about what happened.
The family said they didn’t know very much about the status of the investigation but added that they had been told that both Mexican and United States authorities “are working to find the killers.”
Nielsen’s body was returned to Utah on Thursday and a funeral service will be held this week.
“Our family is absolutely devastated over the loss of our dad. We were very close to him. His family was his world, and he wasn’t just our father, he was one of our best friends,” the statement said.
The family described Nielsen’s death as “the most difficult moment of our lives,” adding that “it’s very important to us that we warn other people so that they don’t have to go through the same thing.”
“. . . The State Department has an active travel advisory for certain areas of Mexico, including the state our dad was planning on driving through. Though he was usually a careful person, he must not have seen that advisory, and that ignorance had tragic results that will affect all of us for the rest of our lives.”
Nielsen’s daughter, Priscilla Nielsen, told CNN that her father and Vázquez were in a faith-based marriage rather than a legally recognized one.
“Questions have also been asked about the nature of our relationship with Janet and Kevin. Our dad married Janet as a second wife about three years ago, and Kevin became his stepson. Immigration was not a reasonable option so our dad split his time between Mexico and Utah,” the family’s statement said.