DNA test proves body found in river is missing five-year-old

10th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

DNA tests on a body discovered in the Huelva estuary on Friday confirmed yesterday that the cadaver is that of five-year-old Mari Luz Cortés, who went missing on 13 January of this year.

10 March 2008

MADRID - DNA tests on a body discovered in the Huelva estuary on Friday confirmed yesterday that the cadaver is that of five-year-old Mari Luz Cortés, who went missing on January 13 of this year. Autopsy details released yesterday suggest that she died shortly after her disappearance.

Mari Luz left home on the aforementioned date to buy candy. Her disappearance prompted a manhunt by police and local residents, as well as a national campaign for information leading to her disappearance.

Her body was discovered on Friday in the mouth of the Huelva estuary, near an oil refinery, some 13 kilometres from her house. According to the autopsy result, she had received a blow to the head, although this is not considered the cause of her death.  Police are working on the theory that she drowned accidentally or was suffocated by a kidnapper or attacker.

Mari Luz's body was found wearing the same clothes she had on the day of her disappearance, leading police to believe that she was not sexually abused before ending up in the water.

Luis Molina, a spokesman for the family, announced yesterday that the family had not ruled out the possibility of a second autopsy - not because they did not trust the results of the first, but rather because "they want to have more confidence [in the findings] and compare the data."

Changeable area
The police and Civil Guard continued to comb the area yesterday, despite it already having been thoroughly searched at the time of the girl's disappearance in January. Winds and tides make the area very prone to change, which may explain why the body appeared here nearly two months after Mari Luz's disappearance.

The police investigation is yet to reach any conclusions as to the circumstances of her disappearance, and authorities believe that a kidnapping may be the most likely scenario. A witness claims to have seen an adult forcing a little girl into a truck in the neighbourhood where she and her family lived. Other witnesses made similar claims, all within a 40-minute timeframe.

Hundreds of local residents visited the morgue where Mari Luz's body was held on Saturday morning to express their support for the little girl's family.

[Copyright EL PAÍS/ S. HUNTER 2008]

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