Jenni Rivera case: Allegations of police theft shock mourning fans
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As Jenni Rivera’s family in Los Angeles planned memorial arrangements Friday, the singer’s fans have been shocked by allegations that two Mexican police officers stole personal belongings from the crash site where her plane went down.
Fans continue to stand vigil outside the Lakewood home of Rivera’s family. Her remains were brought back to L.A. and memorials are pending.
Aide Gonzalez, 38, of Compton, said she and her sister, Cecilia Luna, of Lynwood, arrived about 8:30 a.m. Friday to bid farewell to a woman who they said inspired them to move past any struggles.
‘I loved her songs; they were about love, her sufferings and good times.’ Gonzalez said. ‘We didn’t know her as a friend. But through her songs, you, as a woman, identified with her,’ Gonzalez said, holding her 3-year-old son, Jesse.
She said she came to Lakewood because she wanted to have one final memory of the star.
Driving slowly and stopping by to shoot video of the memorial site, Francis Ubeda of Long Beach said she came to say goodbye.
‘She inspired me,’ Ubeda said. ‘Despite her sufferings, she fought hard to move past them.’
Authorities told Mexican media that ‘victims’ belongings’ were found at the homes of the two officers. The Associated Press reported that one of the officers allegedly took graphic photos of the crash site, including of body parts. Rivera’s plane plummeted nose-first Sunday, 28,000 feet in 30 seconds, leaving its wreckage -- and the remains of Rivera and six others -- splayed across the side of the mountain like a wash of pebbles.
Authorities have been combing the area for clues ever since, though they said they have not determined the cause of the crash.
Rivera, 43, a mother of five and overseer of a growing international business empire, was killed when the jet crashed early Sunday morning near Iturbide, Mexico.
Authorities have said that Rivera’s camp chartered the flight from Starwood Management to ferry her from a performance in Monterrey, Mexico, to an appearance near Mexico City.
In a telephone interview from Mexico City, an executive at the firm, Christian E. Esquino Nunez, said the Learjet 25 was perfectly maintained. Esquino, 50, said he believes that the 78-year-old pilot suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some other way, and that a ‘green’ co-pilot was unable to save the plane.
‘We’re all grieving,’ said Esquino, who described himself as the operations manager of the company. ‘I’m definitely very sorry that this happened.’ Esquino said maintenance and safety issues ‘had nothing to do with the accident.’ He said the 1969 Learjet had been based and maintained in Houston for the last 10 years, and underwent a top-to-bottom inspection this summer. The same plane, according to U.S. aviation records, sustained ‘substantial’ damage in 2005 when a fuel imbalance left one wing tip weighing as much as 300 pounds more than the other. The unnamed pilot, despite having logged more than 7,000 hours in the air, lost control while landing in Amarillo, Texas, and struck a runway distance marker. No one was injured.
Esquino called that accident ‘minor’ and said the plane had flown without issue for 1,000 hours since then. He said the only conceivable explanation for the crash is that the pilot, Miguel Perez Soto, was incapacitated. He said that although the Learjet was a fine airplane, ‘it has some critical characteristics.’
“Once it gets out of normal flight mode ... it’s hard to recover,’ said Esquino, himself a pilot for many years.
-- Ruben Vives in Lakewood and Adolfo Lopez