A 39-year-old University of British Columbia student killed in Mexico with her boyfriend was bound, stabbed and set on fire, according to family and local officials.
Ximena Osegueda, who was working on her doctorate in Mexico, and Alejandro Santamaria vanished Dec. 13, reportedly after leaving her home in a car.
Their bodies were found later that month in the sands near the village of Huatulco, in the state of Oaxaca. They had begun to decompose and it took until this week to confirm their identities.
Ms. Osegueda’s car was located in the state capital a few days after the disappearance. Her mother told the CBC that her son found his sister's body last week in the bushes at the beach.
"Her hands were tied behind her back," she told the network Thursday. “She tried to defend herself. She was quite a warrior. They just stabbed her in the jugular."
The beach is known locally as a dumping spot for victims of organized crime but the victim’s mother said she had nothing to do with that and frequented the area, as did many residents.
Manuel de Jesus Lopez, an attorney general in Oaxaca, told The Canadian Press that the bodies had been partially buried on a beach, and both had been stabbed in the neck and set on fire. He said relatives identified the pair through tattoos and moles, and authorities are investigating robbery as a possible motive.
Ms. Osegueda is a Mexican national who became a Canadian citizen. Her doctorate was dedicated to colonial Latin American literature, with a focus on Mexico, and she had studied previously at McGill University in Montreal. The Canadian government said it was prepared to help the victim's family in Mexico.
“In regards to the recent incident in Mexico, our deepest condolences go to the family and friends of the deceased,” Jean-Francois Lacelle, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, wrote in an e-mail. “Canadian consular officials in Mexico are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to the family in Mexico.”
Friends, meanwhile, planned a memorial for Saturday at noon in Mexico City.
Mexican news websites said other bodies had been found in the area, including that of a local drug dealer found buried on the same beach in a nylon bag.
Ms. Osegueda is the second Canadian this week to be confirmed dead in Mexico. Robin Wood was shot to death after confronting burglars at a friend’s home. Mr. Wood was a resident of Saltspring Island in British Columbia.