Latin America & Caribbean

Arrests over killing of Honduras beauty queen Alvarado

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Media captionThe BBC's William Marquez says Honduras will be shocked by the deaths

Police in Honduras have arrested two men over the killing of beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister who vanished on a night out last week.

The bodies of Ms Alvarado and her sister Sofia Trinidad, 23, were found buried beside a river near the northern city of Santa Barbara.

Ms Trinidad's boyfriend confessed in custody to shooting and burying them, police say.

Police believe he shot her first in a fit of jealousy.

Ms Alvarado, who was crowned Miss Honduras in April, was preparing to leave for London for the Miss World contest in December at the time of their disappearance last Thursday.

The organisers of the contest joined in tributes to the dead women as the impoverished Central American state's record of violent crime again came under scrutiny.

'Gun recovered'

The bodies were found buried at Cablotales, near the River Aguagua.

Plutarco Ruiz, the boyfriend of Ms Trinidad, was detained along with another man, Aris Maldonado.

Mr Ruiz confessed to shooting the two women and then burying their bodies with the help of Mr Maldonado, Honduras National Police director Gen Ramon Sabillon told media.

Chief detective Leandro Osorio said Mr Ruiz had shot and killed the elder sister in a fit of jealousy after seeing her dancing with "another person or something similar", then shot Ms Alvarado and buried the bodies.

"This is the main hypothesis we have for this crime, based on the witnesses and investigations we've done," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police secured the area where the bodies were found by the River Aguagua
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police officers in bullet-proof jackets escorted Plutarco Ruiz (second from left ) after his arrest
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police detained Aris Maldonado in Santa Barbara

The two women were last seen alive in a car without a licence plate as they left a birthday party on 13 November.

The murder weapon and vehicle used to transport the women's bodies to where they were buried have been found, the detective added.

Gen Sabillon said Mr Ruiz had led the authorities to the burial spot. No comment from Mr Maldonado was immediately available.


Miss World contender

Image copyright None
  • Crowned Miss Honduras in April 2014, Maria Jose Alvarado was due to fly to London for the Miss World contest
  • Her profile on the Miss World site records that she was a student with "aspirations of a career in government, specifically as a diplomat"
  • Quote from profile: "I encourage you to make of Honduras a travel destination, the best is yet to come!"

Full Miss World profile


'Devastating' loss

Reacting to their killings, the sister's mother, Teresa Munoz, said: "They were not very astute about assessing the people around them."

"They were just friendly. They were taken out by people they hadn't known very long."

Organisers of the Miss World pageant issued a statement expressing their condolences, and announcing a tribute this weekend in honour of the dead women.

"We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life," they said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Maria Jose Alvarado and Sofia Trinidad at this time of grief."

According to a UN report, Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate, with 90.4 people murdered per 100,000 of the population.


Honduran press review - BBC Monitoring

The story has dominated the front pages of the main Honduran newspapers since the disappearance of the women was announced on Saturday.

All the major papers feature pictures of the beauty queen on their front pages - in which she is seen in formal gowns or bathing suits wearing the Miss Honduras sash or her crown.

In a story headlined "The shattered dream of Maria Jose to represent Honduras at Miss World", La Prensa reports that the 19-year-old had already packed her bags to travel to London this week to represent Honduras at the Miss World pageant in December.

The paper says Honduras has decided not to send another contestant in her place as a sign of respect.


Ms Alvarado had worked as a model on the game show El Show X O da Dinero, hosted by television personality and former presidential candidate Salvador Nasrallah.

"A lot of girls die this way, but because they're not famous, it doesn't get the attention and the crimes go unpunished," Mr Nasrallah said.

"She was a girl of good principles who fell into a trap, a game with guns, and ended up a victim of a violent system.''

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