Debanhi Escobar, a 18-year-old law student, vanished on April 9, amid a spate of disappearances of women in Nuevo Leon’s capital Monterrey that has sparked protests and intensified international scrutiny of gender violence in Mexico.
Twenty-six women and girls have disappeared in Nuevo Leon since the beginning of the year and five more have been found dead after being reported missing.
Debanhi was last seen alive standing next to a highway in a photo snapped by a driver contracted to take her home after a party.
On Friday, her father, Mario Escobar, accused the driver of trying to grope his daughter’s breasts, citing video camera footage, suggesting this is what led her to get out of the car. What happened after she exited the vehicle is unclear.
In an interview with local media, Escobar also identified the body in the cistern as that of his daughter, and accused authorities of mishandling the investigation.
“My daughter is dead because of incompetent (authorities), and because of sexual harassers,” he said.
The state attorney general’s office said no one is currently in custody in relation to the case.
The driver could not be reached for comment.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gave his condolences to the family on Friday and said the teenager’s death could be investigated by the federal attorney general’s office at the family’s request so that there are “no doubts” over the case.
On Friday afternoon, hundreds of women marched to the attorney general’s office and then onto a busy downtown highway, paralyzing rush hour traffic, to protest gender violence.
Protesters demanded the resignation of the state secretary of security, Aldo Fasci, and carried signs with the names and faces of Debanhi Escobar and other local women who have gone missing or been found dead recently.
“I’m here for all the daughters of Nuevo Leon, because we want a state that’s safe and free for them,” said Adriana Flores, 45.
(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener and Daniel Becerril in Monterrey; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Sandra Maler)