MEXICO CITY (AP) — Investigators said Monday that another autopsy of a young woman whose mysterious death shocked Mexico found she died of suffocation “due to respiratory obstruction.”
The autopsy report did not mention whether her nose and mouth were closed. Devanhy Escobar, 18, was found dead in April in a partially filled underground water tank at a motel near the northern city of Monterrey.
Dr. Felipe Takazashi, head of Mexico City’s forensic service, said the latest autopsy on the woman’s exhumed body showed no signs of sexual violence. He said she died three to five days before her body was found.
Escobar was found dead a few days after getting out of a taxi on a dark highway. The case made headlines because of a haunting photo taken by the driver on the night he was supposed to take her home. The driver said he got out of the car voluntarily and said he took the picture to prove he was alive when he left.
The photo touched hearts across Mexico: a young woman standing alone at night on the side of a highway, wearing a skirt and high-top sneakers. The image seems to speak of the woman’s great vulnerability and self-doubt – or despair.
Authorities decided an exhumation was necessary after differing results from two preliminary studies.
The Nuevo Leon state chief medical examiner initially said Escobar died of head injuries, but he was apparently alive when he entered the cistern and had no water in his lungs.
But another forensic analysis of the original autopsy requested by Escobar’s family concluded that she was sexually assaulted and killed.
Her father, Mario Escobar, said prosecutors told him surveillance camera footage showed the driver inappropriately touching his daughter.
The case is shrouded in mystery. Parts of the motel had previously been searched several times after her body was finally found only after a motel employee reported a foul smell coming from the cistern.
Video from the motel’s security camera suggests that Escobar entered the motel and walked around, eventually turning off the camera and moving to where three cisterns were located near a swimming pool.
Some reports suggested that the woman died accidentally after falling into one of the bodies of water. Her body was found in one tank, her handbag in another and her cellphone and keys in a third tank, prosecutors said.