Narvarte Murders: Who Were the Victims? How and Why Were They Killed?

Netflix’s ‘In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case’ delves into the shocking July 2015 multiple homicide case in the Narvarte neighborhood in Mexico City that claimed five innocent lives. Through detailed accounts from lawyers, forensic experts, and journalists, the documentary makes the audience comprehend the events leading up to the tragic incident as well as the complicated investigation that followed. So, if you wish to know more about this case and the unfortunate victims, here’s what we found.

Who Were the Narvarte Murder Victims?

Born on November 29, 1983, Rubén Espinosa was a 31-year-old photojournalist from Mexico City, Mexico, who specifically covered socio-political movements and protests. During his career, he worked with organizations like AVC News Agency and Eclipse Photos and also did significant coverage in Xalapa, Mexico, considered a very dangerous region. Later, Rubén went to Veracruz, where he worked for politician Javier Duarte to cover his gubernatorial campaign. Besides, the journalist was a correspondent for the Proceso and Cuartoscuro magazines.

Nadia Vera

Born in 1983, Nadia Vera was a social anthropologist and human rights activist from Chiapas, Mexico. She completed her education at the Autonomous University of Chiapas and then the Veracruzana University. While studying at the latter in Veracruz, Nadia began heavily participating in and organizing social protests, especially against Governor Javier Duarte’s regime. Nadia and Rubén likely became friends while participating in demonstrations together in Veracruz.

Alejandra Negrete (Middle)

40-year-old Alejandra Negrete was a mother of three who lived in Colonia San Rafael Chamapa, Mexico City. Though she previously worked in a restaurant, she switched jobs and became a domestic cleaner to improve her family’s financial condition. In fact, Alejandra was hired around July 29, 2015, to work at the Narvarte apartment, and it was only the second day of her job there when she died.

Yesenia Quiroz and Mile Martín

Mile Martín was a 31-year-old hairdresser from Bogotá, Colombia, working in Mexico City as a model and living in the apartment. The fifth and youngest victim, Yesenia Quiroz, was an 18-year-old student from Morelia, Michoacán. She worked on the side as a makeup artist and had known Mile for a few days. The latter invited Yesenia to live with her in the Narvate apartment in Mexico City and help her find work.

How and Why Were the Narvarte Murder Victims Killed?

Rubén had landed in several troublesome situations when working in Veracruz; he had covered several social movements, including a student protest against Governor Duarte, where an unknown government representative allegedly threatened him. Things escalated when Rubén voiced his opinion against the numerous missing and dead journalists cases under the Duarte regime and published a controversial photo of the governor in the magazine where he worked.

Rubén Espinosa

This reportedly angered Duarte, and he had all the copies taken down, but things worsened for the photojournalist, who began receiving death threats and also reported three instances of unknown men standing outside his house and intimidating him. Fearing his safety, Rubén informed his friends and fled to Mexico City, where he met his friend Nadia at her apartment in Narvarte on the night of July 30, 2015. Another friend who was accompanying him left the apartment while Rubén stayed over.

On the other hand, even Nadia had fled Veracruz earlier when she received similar death threats due to her participation in various protests against Governor Duarte. Reports state that she had been detained by the police several times and feared that she would be killed like many other journalists. Hence, Nadia left for Mexico City, where she lived in the apartment in Narvarte with Mile, Yesenia, and another woman. On July 31, 2015, at around 12:00 PM, three assailants entered the building: Daniel Pacheko Gutiérrez, Abraham Torres Tranquilino, and Cesar Omar Martinez.

The three men brutally tortured the five victims before tying them up with duct tape and shooting them in the head once each, execution style. Daniel, Abraham, and Cesar then fled the scene after 3 PM in Mile’s red Mustang, carrying a suitcase with some items they had allegedly taken from the apartment. At that time, the women’s fourth roommate had left for work, and she discovered the bodies when she returned home later that night.

While Alejandra was found in the bathroom, the rest of the bodies were discovered in the various bedrooms of the house. Official autopsies indicated that Nadia and Rubén were tortured with a potato peeler, given the deep cuts around their necks. Not just that, Mile and Yesenia had been violently beaten, with the former having severe bruises and injuries on her head. In addition, the reports indicated that all the women, except Alejandra, had been allegedly raped before being shot.

Mile Martín

Since the way the murders were carried out hinted at the assailants being trained, investigators and forensic lawyers speculated that a political motive could have been involved. This theory was further reinforced due to the threats Nadia and Rubén were subjected to in the days before their death. However, the three alleged murderers were soon identified via CCTV footage of the apartment complex, and Daniel was arrested in early August 2015. Though he confessed to robbing the apartment, he refused any involvement in the homicide.

Daniel initially claimed that Abraham and Omar had invited him to go to the apartment for procurement of sex, insinuating that Miles and Yesenia were involved in prostitution. Surprisingly, arrested next, Abraham alleged they had instead gone to the apartment to collect drugs from Miles. A telephonic conversation between him and the victim was later retrieved, which confirmed he had spoken with her before coming to the apartment.

Moreover, investigators speculated that since drugs had been recovered at the apartment, the murders could have been related to drug trafficking. Yet, a new development occurred in the investigation when CCTV footage showed a blue SUV following the red Mustang the assailants drove. This indicated the involvement of two other individuals yet to be identified.

As time progressed, the victims’ families and lawyers accused the Attorney General’s office of tampering with evidence and leaking crucial information to the police, which likely interfered with the investigation. Sadly, despite the case being probed into from eight different angles and the three murderers being imprisoned, no conclusive motive for the murders has been shared by the investigators to date.

Read More: Where Are Killers Daniel Gutierrez, Abraham Tranquilino, and Cesar Martinez Now?