Denise Pikka Thiem: Body Of American Tourist Found On Suspect’s Property

The body of Denise Pikka Thiem, the American tourist killed along a Spanish hiking trail, has been found.

According to the Guardian, Denise, a 40-year-old woman from Arizona, had flown to Spain in April to walk the famous Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) pilgrimage route, which has existed for 1,000 years. The last time Thiem made contact with anyone was on April 4, when she sent a message to a friend, saying she was at a point on the trail near Astorga in Galicia.

The body “seem to correspond to those of Denise and the man arrested yesterday [Friday, September 11] could be the perpetrator,” Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters.

On Thursday, the police continued their search for Thiem, deploying 300 officers backed by a helicopter and search dogs, focusing their search on local wells. Then, on Friday, police confirmed they had arrested a suspect in her murder. The suspect, Miguel Angel Munoz, 39, had apparently led the police to her decomposed body, located on his farm. An autopsy is currently pending.

“A person has been arrested and the search has been suspended for the moment. The suspect led the police to a body in an advanced state of decomposition hidden under branches. Pending an examination, it appears that the body is that of the American pilgrim.”

The Agence France-Presse reported that a Spanish judge charged a man with killing Thiem on Monday, and ordered the suspect to be held in custody without bail.


“He is charged with homicide. When questioned by the judge, he pleaded his innocence,” a statement from the court read.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, witnesses told the police that Miguel had “harassed people on the trail before, sometimes donning a balaclava and chasing them on his bike with threats to rob them.”

Denise had originally intended on attending a church service at Santa Marta in Astorga before traveling to El Ganso, about nine miles away, to stay for the night. However, she never made it. Not long after she went missing, Thiem’s brother Cedric traveled to Spain to search for her sister, and bring awareness to her disappearance.

Authorities say Denise’s death is an isolated incident, and normally, the crime along the Camino de Santiago is very low. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists and Roman Catholic pilgrims hike the Way of Saint James, staying at hostels along their way to the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela.

[Photo by Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock]