The two bikers found the woman’s lifeless body lying face upwards on a Mexican highway near the capital just over a week ago. She was still wearing a beige night dress and a necklace with a heart pendant. After confirming she was dead, they took photos of her tattoos on her shoulders and arms and posted them online, asking people to help identify her.
A few hours later on Oct. 31, family members identified the body of Ariadna Fernanda López, a 27-year-old who the night before had been at a bar in Mexico City partying with her friends. López is the latest victim of a spike in femicides throughout Mexico.
When her body was first discovered on a highway connecting the neighboring state of Morelos with Mexico City, Morelos state authorities initially said that she had died from alcohol poisoning, speculating that her body was dumped on the side of the road “by a group of people.”
One of her friends, identified as Rautel N., who attended her funeral on Nov. 5, told reporters that López went to his apartment after leaving a bar, but left later that night alone.
But a video obtained by the Mexico City government revealed another version of events: security footage from Rautel’s apartment building taken the night López disappeared shows him carrying the body of a woman who authorities confirmed was that of López. The video shows that Rautel walked out of an elevator and put the body into his car.
A second autopsy made on López’s body by the Mexico City authorities contradicted what the original postmortem in the neighboring state of Morelos found, and concluded that Lopez died from multiple blows with an unspecified object, not alcohol poisoning.
After the new autopsy results were revealed on Nov. 5, Rautel’s girlfriend, Vanessa N., was arrested for her involvement in López’ murder” according to authorities, and Rautel fled Mexico City.
But he turned himself in on Nov. 7 to authorities in Monterrey, Mexico.
“I’m innocent. I didn’t kill her, and that is why I'm facing justice. I trust in God that he knows I am innocent,” Rautel said to local reporters during his arrest.
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said there is enough evidence to suggest that the murder of López was a femicide.
“We will keep informing on new developments,” López Obrador said.
Authorities are also investigating Morelos’ the state attorneys general in Morelos for potentially covering up for Rautel’s alleged crime. It was discovered that his attorney is also an investigator for the general’s attorney’s office.
Morelos has one of the highest rates of femicide in Mexico, and López is the latest in a long list of killings. In April, the case of 18-year-old Debanhi Escobar shook Mexico when her body was found dead inside a water tank after she went missing in the state of Nuevo Leon.
In a similar situation, Nuevo León state authorities first called Debanhi’s death an accident, saying she fell into the water tank inside a sketchy motel. But after pressure from her family and activists, a later autopsy made by an independent forensic laboratory revealed she died from suffocation at a different place than where her body was found.
During the search for Escobar, the authorities found the bodies of another five girls who had gone missing during the last four months in different places around the state. Escobar was the 20th woman to be reported missing in just four weeks in that 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.