MEXICO CITY – Investigators said on Monday that another autopsy of a young woman whose mysterious death shocked Mexico showed she died of asphyxiation from “an obstruction in the airways”.
The autopsy results did not specify what had blocked her nose and mouth. Eighteen-year-old Debanhi Escobar was found dead in April in a partially filled underground water tank at a motel near the northern city of Monterrey.
dr Felipe Takajashi, the head of Mexico City’s forensic service, said the recent autopsy of the woman’s exhumed body showed no signs of sexual violence. He said she died three to five days before her body was found.
Escobar was found dead on a dark freeway days after getting out of a taxi. The case made headlines for a haunting photo of the driver who was supposed to be taking her home that evening. The driver said she got out of the car of her own accord and took the picture to prove she was alive when he left her.
The photo touched hearts across Mexico: A young woman standing alone on the side of a highway at night wore a skirt and high-top sneakers. The image seemed to speak to the woman’s immense vulnerability and self-assurance—or desperation.
Authorities decided that exhumation was necessary due to differing results from two initial studies.
The Nuevo Leon state coroner in chief initially said Escobar died from a blow to the head but appeared to be alive when she entered the cistern with no water in her lungs.
But further forensic analysis of the original autopsy requested by Escobar’s family concluded that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered.
Her father, Mario Escobar, said prosecutors told him surveillance camera footage indicated the driver inappropriately touched his daughter.
The case is shrouded in mystery. Parts of the motel had previously been searched several times before her body was finally found only after a motel employee reported a foul odor coming from the cistern.
Video from the motel’s security cameras indicated that Escobar had entered the motel and wandered around, eventually walking away from the camera in the direction of three cisterns near a swimming pool.
Some reports had suggested that the woman might have fallen into one of the cisterns and accidentally died. Prosecutors said her body was found in one tank, her purse in another, and her cell phone and keys in a third tank.