Unusual details surrounding the disappearance of a Spanish woman in the state of Tamaulipas on July 2 are raising questions about the alleged kidnapping and speculation about what really happened and who is responsible.
34-year-old Pilar Garrido — originally from Valencia but a resident of Mexico for the past three years — was allegedly kidnapped on a road between Soto la Marina and the state capital Ciudad Victoria as she was returning home from a weekend at the beach with her husband and baby son.
Her husband’s version of events is that three armed men blocked the road with their vehicle, forcing them to stop.
Jorge Fernández said the men initially demanded that the family hand over their car but subsequently changed their minds and instead abducted Pilar, leaving him behind with their infant son and the car.
Fernández did not claim anything was stolen.
However, several details have set off alarm bells with both Mexican and Spanish authorities that are investigating the case as well as media reporting on it.
First it has been asserted that Fernández did not immediately report the alleged kidnapping. While it is unclear exactly when he alerted authorities, it is believed that it was hours or even up to two days after the incident occurred.
Secondly, no one has demanded a ransom for the safe return of Garrido, leading some experts to rule out the possibility that the case is a kidnapping.
Security consultant Eduardo Guerrero told the Spanish newspaper El País that if more than a week passes without kidnappers making contact, it is very rare for them to do so.
It is two and a half weeks since Garrido disappeared.
Thirdly, Fernández was left with his vehicle at the scene of the alleged abduction, leaving him with the capacity to quickly alert authorities to what had happened.
One source told the Spanish daily El Mundo that “the logical thing is that they [would have] taken the vehicle.”
Fourthly, El Mundo also claims that sources from within the investigation have confirmed that traces of blood were found in the car’s trunk. While the Tamaulipas prosecutor’s office denies it, the newspaper reported today that its sources have maintained that to be the case.
Fifthly, El Mundo also reported that the car was washed after the incident took place but before Fernández reported it to authorities.
“Who is going to wash a car after a kidnapping and why? That is the question that we asked ourselves,” sources from within the investigation allegedly said.
According to El Mundo, Jorge Fernández was given a physical examination after he reported the crime and showed no sign that he had been involved in a struggle. He was also interviewed by authorities.
While the newspaper stresses that there is no concrete evidence to implicate Fernández in the crime, it did allege that its sources had told them that there were inconsistencies in the version of events Fernández recounted and that the couple was having relationship problems.
Questions have also been asked about why a man who is experienced in security issues was so indecisive after the incident allegedly took place. Fernández works in the state government’s public security control and command center known as C4.
Garrido’s sister Raquel has come out in strong support of her brother-in-law, even saying that she would “stake her life” on his innocence and denied there were any problems between the two.
“They’ve been married for many years and we know that he loved my sister very much. The police have denied that blood was found in the car. That test was carried out at the start [of the investigation] and they didn’t find anything.”
Today, Raquel Garrido told the newspaper Milenio that she and her family would provide no further information to the media, claiming that information had been twisted and “many lies” have been written.
She was particularly unhappy with the reporting by El Mundo and said legal action would be taken against it for publishing information that was incorrect.
The investigation is ongoing and officers have been carrying out an extensive search over a wide area starting from where the incident is alleged to have occurred.
“Our starting point is that spot, located around 50 kilometers from Ciudad Victoria. We are making sweeps within a radius of 70 to 100 kilometers,” explained one officer.
Sources also told El País that police have carried out interviews with dozens of people in relation to the case.
There have been some inconsistencies in terminology used to describe Garrido’s status.
“Kidnapped” is one term that has been used but others have referred to her as “disappeared” or as an “unlocated person.”
The Prosecutor’s Office Specializing in Unlocated Persons is investigating the case rather than the State Anti-Kidnapping Coordination Unit, which seems to indicate that authorities are considering possibilities in the case beyond kidnapping.
Garrido’s family in Valencia has not given up hope that she will be found and have urged anybody with any details about the crime, however small, to come forward.
There are currently around 5,500 missing person cases in the state from the past 10 years and even families searching for their missing relatives are living under the threat of retaliation by organized crime.