Things That Matter

A 25-Year-Old Mexican Woman Was Killed By Her Abusive Husband After Seeking Help 16 Times From Authorities

Two of the biggest misconceptions about domestic abuse is that a victim needs to leave their abuser or seek help in order to escape their situation. More often than not, a victim has sought out both routes without success. Leaving a situation where one person is being abused by someone they know could be close to impossible. An abuser, at times, will stop at nothing in order to keep a very tight grip on their victim. What makes this matter even worse is that the agencies that are supposed to help victims, ultimately fail them. 

A 25-year-old Mexican woman was killed by her husband even though she had contacted a women’s justice center for help 16 times prior. 

This horrific crime, which could have been prevented, occurred last year, but new details into what led to her death are only now being revealed. According to several Spanish-language news outlets, Vanesa Gaytán Ochoa reached out to the Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres in Jalisco, Mexico, at least 16 times for help. 

According to El Universal, Gaytán Ochoa reached out to the Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres Jalisco for the last time on April 13 to seek out protection from her husband, Irwin Emmanuel Ramírez Barajas only to end up being killed 12 days later. 

“The efforts to prove the degree of participation of the killer were null and void and [the Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres] didn’t even try to locate or inhibit him from carrying out illegal activities,” the Human Rights Commission said, according to El Universal. 

On the day she was killed, Gaytán Ochoa called her lawyer to tell them that her husband was after her. She was advised to go to the governor’s mansion, where a meeting about security was taking place. Gaytán Ochoa took a cab there and did not realize her husband was following her. 

Credit: Centro Reforma / YouTube

Gaytán Ochoa stood outside the governor’s mansion, and her husband drove up and hit her with his car. He got out and stabbed her to death. The entire crime was caught on a surveillance camera.

Gaytán Ochoa didn’t do a thing wrong. In fact, she took all of the proper steps a domestic abuse victim is supposed to do in order to escape their abuser. She had a restraining order against her husband, and yet he violated it time and time again. 

“When a protection order is issued, the authority undertakes to guarantee the life of the complainant,” amnesty international said in a statement last year. “This must materialize in mechanisms that ensure that state and municipal authorities have the information, resources, and personnel that allow them to fulfill the duty to safeguard the lives of women effectively.”

Gaytán Ochoa’s husband was ultimately shot and killed by a security guard at the governor’s mansion. But the damage was already done. She was dead, and now people are seeking justice in her name. [Warning: video contains graphic images.]

According to news reports, it’s unclear who is to blame whether it is the center for women or state officials, but what is certain is that Gaytán Ochoa’s requests and demands were left unanswered. 

“From the evidence in the case file, it is not observed that the staff of the public prosecutor’s office followed a clear and serious line of investigation aimed at verifying the crime and sanctioning the man responsible,” Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres Jalisco said according to El Universal. 

The sentiment on social media over her death of Gaytán Ochoa is also being placed on Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro. “The murder of Vanesa Gaytán Ochoa outside Casa Jalisco ‘is the sign of a social decomposition that hurts, offends, unworthy, that gives anger’ and we are all to blame for the social decline.”

Statistically speaking, domestic abuse shows staggering numbers. It’s often said that crimes against women are typically committed by someone they know. 

In 2016, Mexico’s female homicide rate reached 4.5 per 100,000, nearly twice that of 2012, a report by the University of San Diego shows. And that number continues to rise. From 2015 to June 2019, at least 3,080 women were murdered in Mexico

READ: Undocumented Immigrants Are Too Afraid To Report Domestic Abuse Out Of Fear Of Being Deported

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These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

Things That Matter

These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

Despite a slight change in strategy in combatting the country’s endemic violence, Mexico continues to see a staggering degree of violence plaguing communities. Although the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, promised sweeping changes that would help pacify the country – violence has continues to spiral out of control, reaching record levels in 2020.

No where is this more evident than in the communities that have lost dozens or even hundreds of loved ones. Many of these communities have formed search brigades to help try and find their loved ones (or their remains) but they’re also getting creative with the ways in which they work to remember those they’ve lost.

A search brigade publishes a recipe book containing their loved ones’ favorite foods.

A group of women who came together to help locate the remains of their loved ones, have worked together on a new project to help remember their loved ones. Together, they have created Recipes to Remember, a book of favourite dishes of some of the missing. Each dish has the name of the person it was made for and the date they disappeared. It was the idea of Zahara Gómez Lucini, a Spanish-Argentine photographer who has documented the group since 2016.

The women are known as the Rasteadoras, and they’ve literally been digging to uncover graves of Mexico’s missing. Now, they’re finding ways to help remember those who have gone missing. The book is a way to strengthen the community and as one of the mothers told The Financial Times, “the book is a tool for building ties.”

“This recipe book is very important because it’s an exercise in collective memory and that’s very necessary,” says Enrique Olvera, the chef and restaurateur behind Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York and a sponsor of the book. “It enables the Rastreadoras to connect with the memory of their loved ones through food and brings us, the readers, closer … It weaves empathy,” he told the Financial Times.

Many of these women came to know each other as they searched for their missing loved ones.

The women – who are mostly housewives in their 40s and 50s – literally scour the nearby grasslands, deserts, and jungles with shovels in hands hoping to make a discovery.

Their “treasures” are among the more than 82,000 people recorded as having disappeared and not been located in Mexico since 2006, when the government declared a war on drug cartels, unleashing terrible, seemingly unstoppable violence. Notwithstanding Covid-19, 2020 may prove to have been the deadliest year on record. As of November there had been 31,871 murders, compared with a record 34,648 in 2019.

Their stories of loss are heartbreaking.

One of the mothers, Jessica Higuera Torres, speaks of her son Jesús Javier López Higuera, who disappeared in 2018, in the present tense. For the book, she prepared a soup with pork rind because “he loves it — when I was cooking, I felt as though he was by my side.”

On the other hand, Esther Preciado no longer cooks chile ribs, her recipe for her daughter’s father, Vladimir Castro Flores, who has been missing since 2013. “That one’s just for the memories now,” she says.

“You get addicted to searching,” she adds. The 120 or so Rastreadoras have found 68 people, but only about a quarter of those are their missing loved ones. She acknowledges many victims may have got into trouble because they sold or used drugs; others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mexico’s missing person problem continues to plague the country.

Since taking office in 2018, the government of President López Obrador has stepped up efforts to locate missing people and identify bodies. It says the number of reported disappearances for 2020 was trending down. But the government acknowledged in November that in 2019, a record 8,804 people had been reported missing and not been found.

According to official data, Mexico has counted 4,092 clandestine graves and exhumed 6,900 bodies since 2006. Sinaloa is notorious as the home of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, once Mexico’s most powerful drug baron, now locked up in a maximum-security jail in the U.S. The city of Los Mochis, where the Rastreadoras are based, is currently in the grip of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, known as El Chapo Isidro.

The Rastreadoras acknowledge that they’re on their own, turning to the authorities for help is not an option. As shown in the mass disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014, which rocked the country, municipal police have a terrible reputation for being infiltrated by cartels. “They won’t help us — they’re the same ones who are involved,” scoffs Reyna Rodríguez Peñuelas, whose son, Eduardo González Rodríguez, disappeared in 2016.

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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