Murders in State of Mexico are not equally important

I am under the terrible impression to have written this story many times before. The setting is, yet again, the State of Mexico, where stories mirror themselves quite a lot

File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 23/11/2017 13:23 Mexico City "In Third Person" is an Opinion Column written by Mexico writer and journalist Héctor de Mauléon Actualizada 13:14
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I am under the terrible impression to have written this story many times before. The setting is, yet again, the State of Mexico, where stories mirror themselves quite a lot.

On July 27, 2017, 18-year-old, Mariana Joselin Baltierra Valenzuela went out to buy eggs and ham for breakfast. It was 9:30 in the morning. Her mother, Saira Valenzuela, stayed at their home in the Américas housing development, in Ecatepec, looking after her youngest son and a two-year-old niece.

“I felt she had taken too long”, she says, “the grocery store only steps away”. As time went by she convinced herself something was wrong and went out to look for her daughter, carrying her niece in her arms. She asked the grocers, who said their daughter had been there but had left “some time ago”.

She came back home, asked somebody to look after her niece and went out to the streets, in the company of a neighbor, to ask anyone she could about her daughter's whereabouts. Nobody had seen Mariana. Saira decided to call her husband. He told her to dial 911and explain what had happened as she headed home.

A report was raised at 911. While Locatel* asked for Mariana security number and recommended Saira to raise an investigation at San Cristóbal** attorney’s office.

Saira did so and returned to her home several hours later, where they remained without any news. Her husband had requested access to the surveillance cameras of the area, but, as Saira puts it, “access was denied to him, both from the public and private cameras.”

State police officers arrived. Operatives from the National Security Commission arrived, too. Hours went by and the evening came.

On Friday, July 28 Saira went out very early to go over the places Mariana should have passed by on her way to the grocer’s and back: a block of flats, a butcher’s, a grey metal door with mirror-like squares, a hand-made tortillas place and then the grocer’s her daughter had been to a day before. Mariana didn’t even have to cross the street: all the places stand on the same side of the street. On the day of the events, both the butcher’s and the tortilla place were closed. The rest of the street looked the same as ever with its greengrocers and a chicken shop across the street.

At 8:30 in the morning Saira’s brother-in-law told her that there was a police car outside the butcher’s. She rushed there to ask for news about her daughter. The agents replied that they were not there to investigate a missing person case but for a different matter and asked her to leave. “ I had a bad feeling and didn’t want to leave the place”, she says. Two hours went by, in which a multitude of inquisitive people was summoned, while forensic experts and an attorney general arrived. A dead body was finally taken out. Someone told Saira’s husband that, regrettably, it was the body of a girl with the traits of the one they were looking for, before getting it into the forensic vehicle.

She had been raped and killed with a butcher’s knife. The killer kept her alive for quite some time, until the wee hours of the next day; according to the autopsy, Mariana died in the first hours of July 28.

According to the Femicide Attorney General, the alleged responsible for the crime, Juan Cruz Quintero Martínez, had been living for twenty days in a room at the top of the butcher shop. He had worked there two years ago, before not showing up again one day. Mariana’s mother remembered how her daughter had told her how afraid she was by the way the then-butcher looked at her. “I asked (Mariana) not to greet him or look at him and I stopped sending her to the butcher shop until I heard he didn’t work there anymore. I thought everything was ok and we carried on with our lives as usual.”

They didn’t realize that Quintero Martínez had come back until the morning in which the owner opened the butcher shop and found blood all over the place. At first, he thought it was the blood of his employee but he confirmed otherwise as he went upstairs. The killer had changed his clothes before fleeing: “He left his clothes full of blood at the scene” as well as the killing knife.

“You could see from inside the butcher shop what was going on outside in the street", notes Saira. "On that day, he could see us, as we were looking for my daughter, all the time.”

The Attorney General did not provide them with any news or developments: four months of pain and impunity, and of a complete lack of results, have gone by.

On the day the media confirmed the murder of the vice-president of mass media company Televisa, Adolfo Lagos, Saira tweeted me saying that while everyone took notice of the death of an important man, nobody turned their gaze to the thousands of cases similar to that of her daughter’s.

“We want to keep the case alive”, she wrote. “Let it not die out.”

Today, an attorney general poster offers MXN$500K pesos for “useful and truthful” information leading to the whereabouts of the person responsible for the crime.
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*hotline to locate missing persons
**capital of Ecatepec’s municipality
 

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