Bodies of missing women were kept secret in the morgue of Juarez

By Guadalupe Lizarraga/Reporter

LOS ÁNGELES.-  “They took too long taking a decision to release information”, said a public official in the halls of the prosecutor’s office, in reference to the body of Adriana Sarmiento Enriquez, who disappeared in Ciudad Juarez in January 18, 2008. Local authorities had kept the body at the facilities of the Forensic Office “for a long time”, without telling precisely how and why they had not informed her family.

Adriana was 15 years old when she was kidnapped. She and her friend Griselda took a bus from the Allende High School to their home; they took the route Juarez-Zaragoza and Griselda got off two blocks. Adriana continue traveling, she was to get off the bus two blocks after her friend, on Miguel Ahumada Avenue. Then she had to walk on Francisco Javier Mina Street to take the second bus that would take her to the Mariano Escobedo neighborhood where she was living with her parents. But she never made it home. In that particular route, where she was alone for about 12 minutes before reaching the other bus stop, same route where three young women went missing on different dates. Two of them were also killed and their bodies still at the morgue, the third one was identified among the audience of a TV Show in Los Angeles, California, and she still missing.

Sarmiento’s mom published on several digital sites her daughter’s missing information asking for the public’s help. She also posted notices in the city’s downtown.  However, because she was devastated, she was not able continue working along with other mothers whose daughters where also missing.

Bodies kept for years in the morgue

The body of Adriana Sarmiento was retained in the Coroner’s Office for about a year or more”, said a source of Los Angeles Press. This case is similar to Hilda Gabriela Rivas Campos, 16 years of age; she went missing in February, 2008 and murdered the same year. Her body was found at Kilometer 57 in Valle de Juarez and was kept in the Coroner’s Office for three years until the authorities decided to notify her mother on September 27, 2011, saying that they have to do DNA testing in order to compare it to the one that her family had already provided.

Carmen Castillo, mother of Monica Liliana Delgado Castillo, did not had to wait that long to recover her daughter’s body. Monica disappeared in January of 2011 when she was 18 years old. Her body was found in the same spot as Hilda, Kilometer 57, few days after she was murdered, her body was release to her family nine months later, along with Hilda Gabriela, the same day, on September 27 of 2011. This happened during a press conference organized by the State of Chihuahua General Attorney’s Office. Carmen Castillo decided not to be present.

According to my source, there are also seven bodies that remain unidentified. The authorities had not told the community regarding these bodies that were found in the Loma Blanca area, in Valle de Juarez. It is still unknown how long these bodies had been at the Coroner’s Office or why they kept this information confidential. There are a lot of mothers looking for their missing daughters, and they go the Attorney General’s Office demanding there whereabouts and updates on the ongoing investigations.

The body of Jazmin Villa Esparza is another one who remains in the forensic. She disappeared in October 3, 2010, when she was 13 years old. She was found murdered in the town of San Agustin, according to the confidential source of Los Angeles Press. Up until now, there has been no official information from the Coroner’s Office.

Her mother Isela Esparza Morales, in regarding to the District Attorney’s Office in February 2011 said that “they did not look for my daughter, nobody cares about her because there was not even an investigation”. She did not receive help or information regarding the investigation, while her daughter’s body was likely lying down at the morgue, all this time.

15 Bodies more

Recently the District Attorney’s Office found 15 more female bodies that were buried in a mass grave, in the Valle de Juarez. The authorities have not officially disclosed this information, or the location of this mass grave. Some of the bodies retained at the Coroner’s Office were nude and others with clothing at the moment of being found. The ages range between 17 and 20 years old. Some of the bodies show signs of violence, torture and mutilation.

The Los Angeles Press source said that the officials seem to have difficulties in finding the way to release the bodies to their families. “It seems that they withhold them willfully. Maybe they don’t want to deal with the terror and anguish of families, it is the same story since 1993, nothing has changed”, said the source.

Of 26 bodies of women who have been retained in the morgue, including Adriana Sarmiento, only two have been identified and returned to their families, Hilda Gabriela Rivas and Monica Liliana Delgado, found at Kilometer 75. Another body has been identified as Jasmine Villa Esparza, found in San Agustin, and her mother has not been notified. Seven unidentified bodies were found in Loma Blanca, and 15 more, also unidentified, were found in the Valle de Juarez, without specifying in which town.

     The District Attorney’s Office has many questions to answer from the mothers of missing girls in Juarez. In the meantime, questions remain on the air like: Where were the bodies found? How long had they been buried? How long have they been in the morgue? Why the authorities don’t release information? Why do they hide evidence? Who are these young women and when were they last alive?

Traslation by Bertha del Rivero

Guadalupe Lizárraga
Periodista independiente. Fundadora de Los Ángeles Press, servicio digital de noticias sobre derechos humanos, género, política y democracia. Autora de Desaparecidas de la morgue (Editorial Casa Fuerte, 2017).

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