The testimony is hasty, messy, somewhat confusing. Typical of a woman who has just spent more than 48 horrifying hours: gagged, blindfolded and tortured with “sexual touching”, a knife around her neck, electric shocks from “various parts of the body”, cuts on her left foot, blows and threats. All of this while she listens to how her two nephews and her husband are also tortured, until a moment comes when she stops hearing her moans and feeling how they revolt against her captors. . Until the brothers Andres and Jorge Tirado (27 and 35 years old) and their uncle Jose Luis Gonzalez (73) are assassinated. Margarita Maria Ochoa (72) is the only survivor of a kidnapping that began at 2:00 p.m. on Friday the 16th and ended on Sunday the 18th, when the police broke into the building at 113 Medellin Street, in the Roma neighborhood, in the wealthy heart of Mexico City. EL PAIS has exclusively accessed the transcript of the interview that investigators from the capital’s Prosecutor’s Office conducted with the woman the same night she was released.
According to the testimony that Ochoa gave to the police, there were between eight and 10 people involved in the crime, motivated by a dispute over the property of the same house in which the events took place, although sources from the Prosecutor’s Office assure that there were only seven aggressors. For seven months, the victims and the alleged perpetrators lived together in the two-story house. Upstairs lived Ochoa, Gonzalez and their nephews. Below, three of the detainees, Blanca Hilda Abrego (mother), Sally Mechaell Arenas (daughter) and Randy Arenas (grandson), along with a second three-year-old grandson, whose name is unknown. In addition, Sally Mechaell’s boyfriend, Azuher Lara, also spent a lot of time at the residence. The four adults have been prosecuted and are in pretrial detention. There is another alleged accomplice in custody, identified as Rebeca. The other suspects have not yet been arrested, although agents hope to find them in the next few days.
On Friday at 2:00 p.m., Lara went up to the second floor to ask Ochoa’s husband to move his car with the excuse that it was blocking the path of a technician who had come to fix the washing machine. Five minutes later, Lara returned to say that Gonzalez had fallen and had a knee injury. Upon going downstairs, Ochoa discovered her husband “lying on the floor, handcuffed and with his face covered in tan but silver-colored tape.” She saw “a group of between 8 to 10 people, all of whom were wearing face coverings.” They pounced on her, gagged and blindfolded her.
First came the threats, then the cuts on the little finger and the sole of the left foot. Later, she and her husband were taken to another room. They laid him on the ground. She, face down on the bed. Two women put a knife to her neck and administered small electric shocks so that she would give up her bank information — while she was held captive they withdrew at least 6,900 pesos from one of her accounts. Shortly after, Ochoa heard screams coming from the living room and a noise that sounded “like a shot,” although in the transcript she says she can’t say where it came from. The kidnappers appeared with her two nephews, who were also questioned about her bank details. One said that he only had an envelope with money in the house, the other that he had no cash.
“This one is already dead”
“From that moment on I began to hear loud noises of aggression towards my nephews. I assume it was them because I also heard kicks as if they were defending themselves. I also heard that someone was drowning. I cannot specify the time that passed, but I stopped hearing the voice of my nephews and instead I heard a woman say: ‘This one is already dead’”. Someone opened a plastic bag and dragged it across the floor. “When they moved my husband, I can assure you that he was alive because I heard a groan. After that I didn’t hear anything else.”
Ochoa stayed in the room with a man who was guarding her. She thought they were going to kill her, according to the Prosecutor’s file. She came a second kidnapper who threatened to rape her. She told him not to dare her because she “could be her grandmother” to her, but even so the man assaulted her with “sexual touching.” After that, she was left alone. She managed to get free of the blindfold and the ropes that gagged her, but when she tried to reach the roof to ask for help, her captors discovered her. They tied her up again and covered her head with a cloth “with which my vision began to distort, she saw colored lights and projections of figures like La Catrina.”
Two men took her to a cellar on the ground floor. At first they tied her to a wheelchair, then they moved her to a bed. On Sunday, when two days had passed, she began to feel “dehydrated” and she asked for water. She was given a glass and some apple slices. Abrego de ella healed the wounds on her left foot and allowed her to bathe, which caused her to discover a bleeding wound “on the left side of her chest.” Ochoa heard Abrego say that they had a problem with the bodies. The nurse was starting to freak out and she wanted to get rid of the evidence.
When the police finally arrived at Medellin 113, Ochoa was again tied to her wheelchair, in the living room on the ground floor. Abrego, her daughter, and her son-in-law were also in the house. In another room, the agents discovered the three bodies, dead since Friday. According to the main line of investigation, the kidnappers left the woman alive so that she would give them ownership of the property.
a legal tangle
Medellin 113 was owned by two of Ochoa’s brothers. One of them lived there, a sick old man who died in May, identified in the Prosecutor’s file by the initials CGOA Abrego had been the man’s caregiver since at least 2004. As part of the agreement they had, the woman earned 1,800 pesos a week and lived on the ground floor of the house with his daughter and grandchildren. When the old man died, Ochoa traveled from Hermosillo to Mexico City to attend the funeral. There, a lawyer and friend of her husband recommended that he stay in her house until they resolved her inheritance, because Abrego “intended to keep said property.” Soon Gonzalez also arrived. They both stayed in the room that had previously belonged to Ochoa’s brother and allowed Abrego and her family to continue living on the first floor while they found another home.
In 2019, when Ochoa’s brother fell ill for the first time, Abrego asked the woman to sign documents that recognized her as the old man’s “concubine.” The nurse hoped to collect a widow’s pension. Ochoa accepted on the condition that he sign them after the death of his brother. But this May, after the man’s death, the caretaker went a step further, assuring Ochoa that her former patient had left the property in her name. “It can’t be possible, my brother would never have done such a thing,” she reads in the interrogation transcript. When Ochoa went to the bank to check her brother’s properties, he found out that he had left her as the holder of an account with 2,700,000 pesos. Also that Abrego “had disposed” of the money from another account.
The Tirado brothers, an actor and a musician, were the sons of Ochoa’s sister. Although they had been in the capital for eight years, they moved into the house in June “because their work activities did not generate stable economic income.” “I invited them to live with us, thinking that they would be company for my husband and me,” Ochoa told police. When her husband and nephews were murdered, the woman was about to settle the inheritance of the house, a house that her brothers inherited from their grandmother: “Because my other brother does not have the possibility of moving to the Mexico City, we agreed that he and my great-nephews grant me power to sell the property.”
The murder of the Tirado brothers and their uncle shocked a country that lives with violence on a daily basis and has sky-high homicide statistics. In part, because it happened in Roma, a wealthy neighborhood and considered a bubble isolated from the reality that prevails in the rest of Mexico; in part, because of the unusual and gruesome nature of the crime. Now, the police are looking for the last accomplices at large while the investigation tries to unravel a case conditioned by the ambition of the suspects and their inexperience in the criminal world, according to the main line of investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office.
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