Things That Matter

A Man Didn’t Like How Slow Mexican Authorities Were Investigating So He Solved His Father’s Murder

The most intense true crime stories seem to follow an unlikely plotline: someone goes missing, the authorities fail to follow up, and a friend or relative of the victim vows to solve the crime—to avenge them with the justice they deserve. Although this type of vigilante justice seems most believable in fictional situations, the truth is that it can absolutely happen IRL. And when Juan Carlos Quiroz’s father went missing in 2017, Quiroz became the protagonist of his own harrowing true-crime tale.

Quiroz’s father disappeared in the spring of 2017. As a retired middle school principal, Albino Quiroz Sandoval spent lots of time at his home in Tepoztlán, Morelos—so it seemed strange when he did not return that afternoon after running an errand at a hardware store nearby. When his family searched through the small mountain town, they eventually found his car abandoned about a mile from the store. They assumed that he had been kidnapped, as more than 40,000 people are currently registered as “missing” in Mexico, and this type of situation is not exactly of as national homicide rates continue to rise.

Quiroz aimed to file a missing person’s report the next day, but bureaucracy held him up, requiring him to visit four separate government offices over the course of 12 hours.

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In spite of the sluggish administrative process, police dispatched a single officer to investigate. But the officer returned to the state capital of Cuernavaca with no information. As hours passed without any leads, it became evident that Sandoval was not the victim of a random kidnapping. And due to Mexico’s notoriously ineffectual justice system (in Mexico, only 5 percent of killings end in a conviction, and just last year, the conviction rate in Morelos was less than 1%), Quiroz realized that he not only had to face the source of his father’s disappearance—he also had to deal with an incredibly difficult legal system.

Understanding the tenuous situation his family was in, Quiroz opted to take matters into his own hands. “I realized that it wasn’t my job to grieve,” he said. “I had to look for answers, or I wasn’t going to get any.” 

So just two days after his father had disappeared, Quiroz paced the streets of Tepoztlán, visiting shop after shop in search of surveillance footage that might lead him in the right direction. He later found out that the police hadn’t even checked for this type of evidence—evidence that would end up being pivotal to solving the mystery of what happened to his father.

One video showed Sandoval leaving the hardware store that he’d originally set out for, driving in the opposite direction of his home. Later that night, the family heard rumors that Sandoval had been lending money to a man named Juan Carlos Reyes Lara—a local attorney who claimed that his daughter was in the hospital—and that Sandoval and Reyes had gotten into an altercation about money on the day of his disappearance.

Witnesses had observed this altercation and reported it to local police, but no action was taken. When Quiroz approached the police for more information, they barely acknowledged the event, though one officer did give Quiroz the name of a witness who had reported the incident.

Eventually, the witness shared his story with The Los Angeles Times, saying, “We all want the system to change. But if you don’t do your part, it will never happen.”

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Two weeks later, police apprehended Reyes in his home on charges of kidnapping. But while this seemed like a small victory, the next steps were incredibly frustrating for Quiroz and his family. In a preliminary court hearing, prosecutors failed to mention that they had an eyewitness account for Sandoval’s beating. Ultimately, one prosecutor told Quiroz’s family that it would be best to avoid a trial and instead try to negotiate a deal with Reyes, which would require him to pay the family restitution without admitting guilt.

Desperate for further assistance, Quiroz sought help from a human rights group, which ended up connecting him with a lawyer named Efraín Márquez Dur’án. Márquez was all too familiar with the corruption of Mexico’s justice system, and he took on Quiroz’s case con gusto, eager to meet to challenge of making the state to do its job—which, let it be known, he did.

After a year of news conferences and meetings with officials, Marquez lobbied for a new prosecutor to be assigned to the case—a prosecutor who believed Reyes should be charged for kidnapping with intent to harm.

Credit: Unsplash

In seven days of hearings, held over a three-week period, 22 witnesses and experts testified, leading to a guilty verdict. Reyes was ultimately sentenced to 50 years in prison—a partial justice for Quiroz and his family, who plan to continue fighting for Mexico’s justice system to overcome its toxic corruption.

“I think it’s our only option to escape the cruelty of the violence that we’re living,” he said. “We have to be able to come together again as members of the same community and make the criminals responsible for their actions.” 

READ: The Police Officer Who Shot Atatiana Jefferson In Her Own Home Will Be Put On Trial For Murder

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

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This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

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Step outside into Mexico’s capital (home to more than 20 million people) and you’d be forgiven for not realizing we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic that’s killed more than half a million people.

As of this week, several Mexican states have entered the initial phase of reopening and Mexicans are taking full advantage of the newly found sense of ‘freedom’ – visiting restaurants, cafés and shops in droves. However, experts warn that Mexico will likely follow the dangerous path of the United States – which opened prematurely and is now having to shut down businesses once again as cases reach record levels.

Here’s an inside look into the daily reality of Chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) and what the future holds for the country amid Coronavirus.

Mexico City – along with 17 other states – have entered the first phase of a gradual reopening.

Despite being home to the largest number of active cases across Mexico, the capital joined 17 other states in a phased reopening this week. Mexico City lowered its contagion risk from a level red (the most extreme) to level orange, which permits some businesses to reopen.

However, Mexico City – on the day of the reopening – saw a record 5,432 new cases and 638 confirmed deaths. Mayor Sheinbaum said that the switch to orange was possible because hospital occupancy levels are at 59% and trending downwards. But to many, the government is prioritizing the economy over public safety and health. Several government officials insisted that it was safe to proceed to the reduced warning level but health experts disagreed.

The mayor stressed that if hospital occupancy levels go above 65% again, red light restrictions will be reinstated. She urged residents to continue to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. People should continue to stay at home as much as possible and the use of face masks in public places remains mandatory.

Along with Mexico City, 17 other states moved into the orange phase of reopening – including tourist hotspots of Jalisco, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan.

The federal government instituted a traffic light system to simplify the risk management of Covid-19

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Shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak began, the federal government instituted a color-coded risk management system to simplify its messaging. With red being the highest risk level and green being the lowest, every state until June 15th was still in the red level.

As of July 1, 18 states are now in the orange level. This means that restaurants, cafés, and shops can begin to reopen with reduced capacity. Hotels and markets will also be allowed to resume service, meaning that tourism will likely begin to pick up again very soon.

President AMLO has been eager to get the economy reopened after it was reported that at least one million formal jobs have been lost and the country’s economy is expected to shrink by 8.8% this year.

On the first day of reopening, shops in Mexico City’s historic center were jammed full of shoppers.

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The city’s historical center is a hub of economic activity. You can literally find pretty much anything you could ever want in these cobblestones streets. The district is home to more than 27,000 businesses and as of this week they’re now permitted to open once again. And resident wasted no time in hitting the shops.

Long lines formed outside shops with few people wearing masks and most stores not truly enforcing social distancing requirements. Some offered antibacterial gel and took people’s temperatures before allowing them to enter.

Officially, shops and businesses with an odd street number are permitted to open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, whereas even-numbered shops can open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In order to prevent crowds from accumulating and promote social distancing, 31 streets were converted into pedestrian-only zones.

Restaurants, cafés, and shopping centers are all open for business – with some protective measurements in place.

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Even before the official change to semáforo naranja, several restaurants and cafés were already offering dine-in service. But now restaurants are officially allowed to operate at limited capacity, while staff are required to wear masks and shields, and restaurants are’s allowed to play music or issue reusable menus.

Street markets, known as tianguis, will also be allowed to restart which will help many of the city’s informal workers. And the following week, department stores and shopping malls will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity and with limited hours.

Mexico is hardly finished with the Coronavirus threat – in fact, cases have been reaching record levels.

Credit: Covid.gob.mx

Although not yet at the levels seen in the U.S. or Brazil, Mexico has been struggling with its response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As of July 1, the country has had more than 225,000 confirmed cases and almost 28,000 deaths, with Mexico City being the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak.

And the worst doesn’t appear to be over. In a Covid-19 situation report published Monday, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security noted that Mexico had reported a decreasing daily incidence for three consecutive days.

“However, Mexico does not yet appear to have reached its peak,” the report said. “Based on recent trends, we expect Mexico to report increasing daily incidence over the coming days. Mexico is currently No. 6 globally in terms of daily incidence,” it added.

Golden State Killer Confesses To Rape And Murder, After Families Have Been Waiting For Decades

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Golden State Killer Confesses To Rape And Murder, After Families Have Been Waiting For Decades

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Although his crime spree took place more than thirty years ago, the Golden State Killer has only recently been held accountable for the unspeakable crimes he committed up and down the state of California.

Thanks to advancements in DNA testing, police found a suspect and this week the Golden State Killer confessed to dozens of crimes committed from Sacramento to San Diego.

His victim’s families have celebrated the move as a first step on the path towards justice for their loved ones.

One of California’s most prolific killers has pleased guilty to his crimes and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Golden State Killer terrorized California for more than a decade, before his trail went cold. After being arrested in 2018 thanks to advancements in DNA testing, Joseph DeAngelo was charged with several crimes (including burglaries and murders) and named as the Golden State Killer.

Since his arrest, police have been building a case against him and this week charged him with additional crimes, for which he has pled guilty to on all counts. He pled guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances – including murder committed during burglaries and rapes -– as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, and he acknowledged more than 50 rapes he was not charged for because of California’s statute of limitations.

DeAngelo will be sentenced in August, and will kiley serve 11 consevutive life terms without the possibility of parole. According to Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday, he agreed to plead guilty to all charges to avoid the death penalty.

With his guilty plea, victim’s families will finally be able to face him in court and seek justice.

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Some of the Golden State Killer’s victims, were raped or murdered as far back as 1974. So their families have been waiting for justice for decades.

After dozens of false leads and dead ends, the case was followed up on after advancements in DNA. And now, the Golden State Killer has been identified and charged with the crimes that have left dozens of families in untold pain.

The plea means that his victims can give their impact statements starting August 17 — much quicker than if he had gone to trial in a prosecution that the six district attorneys involved said might have taken as long as a decade.

“Today’s court proceeding brings us one step closer to ending the horrific saga of Joseph DeAngelo and his decades long crime spree,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said Monday in a news release. “In this case justice did not move swiftly, it was a long time coming. However, our victims remained steadfast and brave throughout this entire process.”

The Golden State Killer had a long crime spree and dozens of victims.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Although DeAngelo was just arrested in 2018, his crimes date back to 1974. He has admitted to burglaries, rapes, and murders ranging from northern to Southern California. He earned nicknames such as the Visalia Ransacker, the Diamond Knot Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist. Officials only later realized the crimes were all the work of one man.

The former police officer, Vietnam War veteran and auto mechanic was arrested in April 2018 after police tracked him down by matching his DNA with a genealogy website.

Investigators created a family tree dating back to the 1800s in order to identify him as a suspect. Detectives followed him and collected a piece of rubbish he had thrown away, finding the same DNA recovered from several crime scenes.

Now, the Golden State Killer’s gripping crime story will be told in a six-part HBO series.

Just one day before DeAngelo pled guilty to all charges, HBO debuted a miniseries detailing his crimes and the victim’s stories. The series, based on author and researcher Michelle McNamara‘s own investigation, combines archives of footage and police files, as well as exclusive new interviews with detectives, survivors and relatives of DeAngelo.

McNamara remained focused on the victims of the crimes throughout her process, and she earned the right to “walk off with 37 boxes of Golden State Killer evidence, according to Assistant Orange County Public Defender Scott Sanders.