Robbery appears to be the motive behind the murder of Canadian photographer and artist Barbara McClatchie Andrews, says a Mexican prosecutor.
Yucatan state Attorney General Ariel Aldecua alleges the woman was killed by the man who she hired to drive her from Cancun back to where she lived in Merida, the state's capital.
Authorities said the body of the 74-year-old woman was discovered Friday, tossed on the side of a highway that connects the two cities. They said there were signs she had been strangled.
McClatchie Andrews ran a non-profit art gallery in Merida called "In Lak'Ech" for several years that supported emerging artists, but she maintained close ties to Canada.
Recent work on her website showcases abstract photos taken in British Columbia, from the scenic Sechelt Peninsula to Vancouver's bustling Main Street.
Rodney Clark, an artist who worked with McClatchie Andrews at Vancouver's Arts Work Gallery, said she visited only two weeks ago to submit some of her latest images.
The gallery began representing McClatchie Andrews in 2007, and Clark said everyone who knew her was still trying to process the news of her death.
"She was incredibly witty and one of the sharpest people I've ever met," he said.
Clark – who likes to wear black clothing – said one of the last things she said to him poked some fun at his appearance while he was out on a smoke break.
"She walks up to me and says 'you're such a deviant,"' he said. "We were pretty silly together, she was a lot of fun."
Along with her sense of humour, Clark said McClatchie Andrews will be remembered for her vibrant, outgoing nature.
A number of reports of her death in Mexican news outlets referred to her as "elderly," Clark said, a term he thinks misses the mark when describing the artist.
"She was an absolute hoot. (She) just loved life," he said. "I've met 30-year-olds I would consider more elderly."
McClatchie Andrews was trilingual and had travelled extensively, finding inspiration for her photos in cultural topics, says a biography on her website.
She completed an undergraduate degree in English and French literature at the University of British Columbia, and went on to pursue post-graduate studies at Montreal's Concordia University and the University of Arizona.
As a photojournalist, McClatchie Andrews had her work published in the National Geographic and other magazines.
Clark said her recent artistic work drew inspiration from ordinary, mundane objects such as a painter's palette, flower petals or architecture that she would photograph and manipulate to create unique, abstract art.
He said McClatchie Andrews is survived by her son.