A teenager who went missing nearly two weeks ago after a taxi driver left her on an empty highway in the middle of the night was just found dead in a motel in the city of Monterrey, authorities and family members announced Friday morning.
Debanhi Escobar’s corpse was found in a water cistern after motel employees reported a “fetid smell.” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during his morning press conference that the discovery “shouldn’t worry” Mexicans because it “happens everywhere.”
“I want to send a hug and my condolences to the young woman’s family,” López Obrador added. “These sad things are happening everywhere, in almost every state.”
Escobar’s disappearance has captivated Mexico, and the number of missing women is spiking in the state of Nuevo León, where she went missing and was found dead. The official cause of death has not been announced, but the government is claiming that she fell into the cistern accidentally.
On April 8, 18-year-old Escobar went to a house party along with two of her friends, who sent her home with a driver. The haunting photo of her, taken by the driver who dropped her on the edge of a federal highway, went viral after she was reported missing.
Her father, Mario Escobar, confirmed the body found inside the water cistern was his daughter. He accused the driver of sexually assaulting her, and said that is what prompted her to get out of the car in such a vulnerable spot.
“Debanhi was pissed because she was being sexually assaulted. Now I hope that he [the driver] will be judged by society since authorities told me there is no crime to prosecute,” Escobar told news reporters outside the motel.
The driver was arrested briefly, but later released by Nuevo Leon’s government after Escobar’s body was found.
Mexican authorities allege that after Escobar was left on the highway, she crossed the street and walked into the motel before accidentally falling into the water cistern. Nuevo León’s General Attorney Office showed a set of security camera videos to her father, he said, where his daughter was seen walking towards the motel.
During the search for Escobar, the authorities found the bodies of another five girls reported missing during the past four months in different places around Nuevo León. Escobar was the 20th woman to be reported missing in only four weeks in the state, which has been host to a bloody war between rival drug cartels.
In Mexico, seven women go missing every day. There are more than 95,000 people on the country’s missing persons register.
“My daughter is dead and I don’t know what to do,” Escobar’s father said. “I'm angry at myself for trusting the authorities of Nuevo León. I made a mistake.”