Maria Villar Galaz, the niece of Spanish Football’s chief, Angel Maria Villar, has been found dead a week after she was kidnapped at a cash point in Toluca, Mexico.
Mexican authorities said Maria Villar, 36, was kidnapped on September 13, after boarding an unlicensed taxi at a mall in the Mexican city of Santa Fe. Her abductors reportedly forced her to withdraw money from several cash points before contacting her family to demand a ransom of over $100,000 for her release.
On Tuesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo confirmed that Maria Villar Galaz’s body had been identified by her family at a Mexico City morgue.
Margallo, who made the revelation during an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero, added that he was convinced of her safety and release, although the kidnappers were paid less than they demanded.
“The kidnappers visited several cash points that night and called her family the following day and the family contacted us,” the minister said. “I spoke from the start with her uncle and we thought we were able to solve this easily because of the information we had.”
“We were convinced that it would be a matter of time before she appeared safe and sound. Unfortunately, things did not turn out that way,” he added.
Maria Villar’s body was found on September 15, about 48 hours after she was kidnapped, BBC News reported.
Officials found the body of a woman near Mirasol, a Mexican village. Her head was reportedly wrapped in a bag while her hands and legs were bound, the Mirror UK reported.
The identity of the of the body remained unknown until this week when Maria Villar’s husband, cousin, and two Spanish officials traveled to Mexico to secure her release, ESPN reported. An autopsy on Maria Villar Galaz’s body reportedly revealed that she died of asphyxiation due to the bag wrapped around her head.
Mexico’s Deputy Prosecutor German Garcia said an investigation into Maria Villar’s kidnapping and murder has been launched.
“We launched a murder inquiry because we didn’t she had been kidnapped, although there was evidence, like the chains and the handcuffs, pointing towards that possibility,” Garcia said.
Maria Villar, a Spanish citizen who worked with tech giant IBM Mexico as a senior executive, reportedly moved to the country about three years ago. The University of Madrid graduate lived in the country with her husband, a Brazilian national, who was traveling to Mexico from Spain at the time she went missing.
The news of Maria Villar Galaz’s disappearance and kidnapping did not make news until her friends launched a social media campaign in a bid to gather information on her whereabouts.
Maria Villar’s family had reportedly urged all her relatives not to break the agreement of total secrecy they had reached with the kidnappers, AS Mexico reported. On social media, her friends revealed that the last time anyone heard from Maria Villar was when she called her husband on the day she was kidnapped. She reportedly told her husband that she was heading home.
Maria Villar’s uncle, Angel Maria Villar, the chief of the Spanish Football Federation, made headlines with his shocking withdrawal from the recently-ended UEFA presidential election.
Angel Maria Villar, a former Spanish footballer, withdrew from the race just days before news emerged that his niece had been kidnapped.
Spanish authorities were reportedly in close contact with their Mexican counterparts after receiving news of Maria Villar’s kidnapping. The Spanish Ambassador to Mexico had traveled to Toluca to help secure her safe release.
Maria Villar Galaz’s kidnapping and murder is the latest high-profile kidnapping case in Mexico, which is rife with organized crime.
[Featured Image by Carlos Jasso/AP Images]