MEXICO & THE AMERICAS

Honduras beauty queen was slain by sister's jealous boyfriend, police say

Missing Miss Honduras 2014 and sister found dead, buried near Honduras spa.

Miss Honduras 2014 was supposed to fly to London on Wednesday to compete in the Miss World pageant. Instead, she and her sister were found dead near the spa where they disappeared six days ago.

Leandro Osorio, who heads the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation, told the media in Honduras on Wednesday that officials could "confirm 100%" that two bodies found buried were those of beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister, Sofia Trinidad, 23. Osorio also said investigators had found both the murder weapon and the vehicle allegedly used in the slayings.

Plutarco Ruiz, Trinidad's boyfriend, and an alleged accomplice, Aris Maldonado, have been arrested in connection with the case.

The two sisters disappeared after attending a birthday party for Ruiz on Thursday.

Police said Ruiz confessed to shooting them, jealous that his girlfriend had danced with another man. At some point during the night of the party, a heated argument broke out and Ruiz pulled a gun, firing first at his girlfriend and then at Alvarado as she tried to flee, said Gen. Ramon Sabillon, director of the National Police. Alvarado was hit twice in the back.

Alvarado had been scheduled to leave for London on Wednesday to compete in the Miss World 2014 pageant. The pageant activities begin Thursday and take place over three weeks with a finale on Dec. 14.

Honduras won't compete in the Miss World pageant this year because of Alvarado's tragic death, Honduras pageant organizer Eduardo Zablah said.

On her bio page for the Miss World competition, Alvarado described herself as a dedicated student with aspirations for a career in diplomacy. She used her statement to encourage tourists to see her country for themselves.

“Our ethnic groups like the Tawakas, Lencas, Pech, Garifunas & Misquitos have made of Honduras a country with a cultural diversity rich in customs, gastronomy and religious beliefs," she said. "For this and more I encourage you to make of Honduras a travel destination, the best is yet to come!"

Julia Morley, the chairwoman for the Miss World Organization, issued a statement Wednesday "to everyone around the world who has been touched by the awful news from Honduras this morning."

"We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Maria Jose Alvarado and Sofia Trinidad at this time of grief," Morley said.

She added that her organization is planning a special service Sunday for Alvarado and her sister and are planning a fundraiser to benefit a children's home in Honduras, selected by their mother.

Honduras has been in the news in the U.S. this year because of a steep increase in the number of children from the country crossing into America unaccompanied by adults.

The migration has been driven in large part by high crime and little opportunity in the Central American nation of about 8 million people. Honduras' overall homicide rate was the highest in the world for 2012, with 90 homicides per 100,000. Much of the high rate of violent crime there is fueled by gang and drug-trafficking conflicts.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

6:05 p.m.: This post updates with additional details from officials' description of the slayings and with a comment from Eduardo Zablah.

8:24 a.m.: This post updates with background about crime rates and immigration from Honduras.

7:24 a.m.: This post updates with confirmation of the identities of the bodies.

7:02 a.m.: This post updates with additional information about Alvarado, as well as reaction from the Miss World Organization.

An Associated Press version of this story was originially published at 5:42 a.m.

 

72°