Three surfers on a dream trip to Mexico were brutally killed. Here’s what we know

Photos of three surfers who disappeared in Mexico are placed on the beach in Ensenada.
Photos of three surfers who disappeared in Mexico are placed on the beach in Ensenada on Sunday.
(Karen Castaneda / Associated Press)
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A trio of tourists on a surfing trip in Mexico were living an idyllic life. They were posting photos of themselves on the beach, on rooftops, drinking beer, listening to music as they explored the country’s scenic coastline.

Then, they disappeared.

Here’s what we know about what happened:

Who were they?

The men who were killed were Australian brothers Callum Robinson, 33, his brother Jake, 30, and their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad, 30.

Callum was a high-level lacrosse player. He played Division III college lacrosse at Stevenson University in Maryland.


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“He lived an extraordinary life, but what is most impressive about Callum is what a loyal friend he was. Once you were his friend, you were friends for life,” said Stevenson University lacrosse team coach Paul Cantabene.

“My heart is shattered into a million pieces,” wrote Callum Robinson’s girlfriend, Emily Horwath, in an Instagram post.

His brother Jake was a doctor, and Jack Carter Rhoad founded an online apparel company in San Diego called Loma Apparel. He also worked for a consulting company called ITCO Solutions.

Rhoad had recently proposed to his girlfriend, and his final Facebook post, from July 2023, showed pictures of the proposal.

What were they doing in Mexico?

The three men were on a surfing trip in Baja California and were expected to check into an Airbnb in Rosarito on April 27 but never showed up, according to Debra Robinson, Callum and Jake’s mother.

The three arrived in Mexico on April 26 for their idyllic beachside trip. Callum Robinson posted photos of the trio drinking beer on a rooftop, as well as pictures of the men at the beach and in a rooftop Jacuzzi.


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Their disappearance triggered a manhunt and investigation by local Mexican police, the FBI and the Mexican marines.

What happened?

Mexican authorities have determined that the three men were killed by thieves who were looking to steal their white pickup truck in order to sell its tires.

The Chevrolet truck was posted in the first picture Callum Robinson shared when the men arrived in Baja California on April 26. It had a California license plate.

The bodies of the victims were found about 4 miles from where they were killed, just south of the city of Ensenada. A tent the men were staying in, as well as their burned-out truck, was found nearby.

María Elena Andrade Ramírez, chief state prosecutor of the state of Baja California, said investigators discovered their bodies 50 feet deep in a remote well.

Inside the well was a fourth cadaver as well, she said.

Three Mexicans are being held in connection with the case, the prosecutor said.

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What does it mean for tourists?

The killings have set off pitched discussions over safety as well as the prioritization of solving the homicides of other tourists killed in Mexico.


On the Talk Baja Facebook group, concerned surfers and potential visitors to the Northern Mexico state have discussed whether they should still visit the area.

The U.S. State Department said in its 2023 report that Americans should “reconsider” travel to Baja California due to kidnapping and crime. The “reconsider” category is the second-worst category, after the department’s “do not travel to” recommendation.