Carmen Ximena Osegueda’s brutal slaying stunned those who knew her best. The University of British Columbia graduate student, described as vivacious and cheery, was stabbed in the throat and killed alongside her boyfriend last December, their remains burned and buried on a beach in Mexico’s Oaxaca state.
Nearly five months after the killings, Mexican officials have announced the arrests of five people, bringing tears of joy and sadness to those still reeling from Ms. Osegueda’s death.
“It reminds you again of the loss,” long-time friend Christianne Odehnal said, her voice breaking at times. “At the same time, you want justice. You want these people to be caught and to pay for what they’ve done.”
Ms. Osegueda, 39, and her boyfriend, Alvarado Alejandro Santamaria, 38, were killed so gang members could steal their vehicle and bank cards, Mexican authorities said. The gang members allegedly killed their leader after the robbery in a dispute over how to divvy up the proceeds.
The details were made public this week by Oaxaca Attorney-General Manuel de Jesus Lopez. He said five suspects are in custody, and three more are wanted in connection with the killings.
Details of the investigation will be shared with Canadian officials “to show that in Oaxaca the law is applied so no crime goes unpunished,” said a statement from Mr. Lopez’s office.
Mexican authorities said they cracked the case by tracking the stolen vehicle – a 2012 Chevrolet – through its global positioning system. A butcher shop receipt inside it led them to gang leader Luis Enrique Calderón Cabrera, nicknamed El Chabelo.
The gang allegedly withdrew 20,000 pesos – about $1,500 – from bank accounts belonging to Ms. Osegueda and Mr. Santamaria, but an argument broke out over the division of proceeds, reported media outlet Tiempo de Oaxaca. The gang leader and his girlfriend were reportedly killed in the dispute.
Mr. Lopez said three women and two men are accused of murder, participating in organized crime and robbery.
The three suspects still at large are Carlos Caballero García, nicknamed El Pitufo (The Smurf), Armando Escamilla Mejía and Omar Rosalino García Fuentes.
One of the three fugitives is alleged to be the man who stabbed Ms. Osegueda to death, her former husband said on his Facebook page. Jacy Wright, a Vancouver resident, wrote online: “The man who did the deed is still at large, but I have confidence he and the other two gang members still at large will be caught.”
Ms. Osegueda was a Mexican who became a Canadian citizen while studying in Montreal and Vancouver. She was living in Huatalco at the time of her death, working on a doctoral thesis about the coastal village.
Ms. Odehnal met Ms. Osegueda about 15 years ago, when the latter began to train at Ms. Odehnal’s Vancouver capoeira studio. Ms. Osegueda took quickly to the Brazilian martial art, through which she met Mr. Wright. The two separated about three years ago.
Ms. Odehnal last saw Ms. Osegueda in October.
She said news of the arrests was difficult because it reminded her once again that her friend isn’t coming back.
“She was an extremely special human being. She had this shine about her. Very vivacious, positive, happy, always reached out to people. Very intelligent. She had a real spark in her eye. Just so many qualities. I could write a book.”
André Lamontagne, head of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies at UBC, echoed those sentiments.
He said the arrests brought a sense of relief, but not a sense of closure.
He said the department is working on a way to honour Ms. Osegueda. One option that’s being considered is a scholarship in her name.
With reports from Ingrid Peritz and Marina Jimenez