The brutal killings of a gay couple from Texas who were tortured, shot and dismembered outside a Mexican border city should be probed as potential hate crimes, advocates said.
The mutilated remains of Nohemí Medina Martínez and Yulizsa Ramírez, who lived in El Paso, Texas, were found Sunday in garbage bags along a 17-mile stretch of the Juárez-El Porvenir highway outside Ciudad Juárez, Spanish-language newspaper El Diario reported Tuesday.
The couple, who got married in July and had three children together, were originally from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where advocates Wednesday called on authorities to investigate their deaths as potential hate crimes.
“People of diversity have the right to live without fear of rejection and aggression that can escalate to a hate crime,” the Chihuahua Committee for Sexual Diversity said in a statement to Mexican authorities, according to a translation.
The group called for an end to the “normalization” of hate speech and homophobia, while demanding that the couple’s killers be brought to justice.
“We demand that the authorities urgently clarify this hate crime,” the group wrote in a tweet showing the late women embracing each other. “We send our deepest condolences to their family and friends.”
The group’s director, Karen Arvizo, told the Daily Mail she’s worried the gruesome murders will go unsolved — much like many other suspected hate crimes targeting Mexico’s gay communities.
“The concern is that authorities will do absolutely nothing,” Arvizo told the outlet Wednesday. “We feel like we are treated like second-class citizens and that we really don’t matter.”
Attempts to reach friends or relatives of the couple were unsuccessful Thursday. A Facebook post from July when the couple got married showed Medina Martinez and Ramírez alongside three children inside a car.
“How beautiful,” one woman replied.
Ramírez lived in El Paso, according to her Facebook profile, but was originally from Ciudad Juárez, where 65 men and 11 women have reportedly been killed thus far this year.
Medina Martinez, whose nickname was “Shorty,” lived in Ciudad Juárez, according to her Facebook profile.
“I know you are special,” the heading on her profile says.
The women, both 28, were living in El Paso at the time they were killed, the Chihuahua State Office of the Attorney General told the Daily Mail. They were visiting relatives in Chihuahua who last saw them Saturday afternoon, El Diario reported.
A second pair of women were found discarded in bags in Ciudad Juárez on Monday, a day after Medina Martínez and Ramírez were discovered, KVIA reported. One victim was already dead, while the other was clinging to life but later died, according to the station.
The women, who were 30 and 35 years old, were not immediately identified. They were also tortured and shot, KVIA reported, citing El Diario. It’s unclear if the four slayings are somehow linked.
Meanwhile, dozens of women marched through streets of Ciudad Juarez on Thursday, calling for authorities to arrest those responsible for the four slayings, as well as in the cases of the seven other women killed in Chihuahua less than three weeks into the new year, according to El Diario.