Missing surfers identified in Mexico, believed killed by truck tires and dumped in well | Abroad

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updateThe two Australians and an American who went missing on a surfing trip to Mexico have been shot dead by thieves. The target: their truck, mainly because they were going after the tires, authorities announced Sunday. Prosecutors in the Mexican state of Baja California have released gruesome details of the killings. Family members confirmed the victims’ identities on Sunday.

Relatives of the missing surfers, the two Australian brothers Jake and Callum Robinson and their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad, arrived in Mexico on Sunday. They have confirmed that the bodies found last week are indeed the Australians and the American.

The bodies are already decomposing after the thieves dumped them in a remote, 50-foot-deep well. Another body was also found in the well, which had been there for much longer.

Murder for tires

The three men went missing last weekend during a camping and surfing trip in Baja California, a Mexican coastal region bordering the United States. The area is known for its beautiful beaches, but violent criminal organizations are also active.

When the Australians did not show up at their previously booked Airbnb and the American did not show up for work, the alarm was raised and a search was started.

The three missing surfers. ©

Shortly before their disappearance, they had posted idyllic photos on social media of waves and secluded beaches along the coast south of the city of Ensenada. But Andrade Ramírez described the terrible moments the journey turned into for the men.

She said the killers were driving by and saw foreigners’ pickup truck and tents and wanted to steal their tires. “Of course they resisted,” she said of the victims. The thieves then shot them dead. “They all have a hole in their head, caused by a firearm,” said Andrade Ramírez. She added that the trio had visited Mexico several times without any problems.

The perpetrators then went to a place they described as “extremely difficult to reach” and dumped their bodies in the well they apparently knew. The pickup truck was found burned out not far from the well.

Andrade Ramírez said it does not rule out the possibility that the same suspects also dumped the first, older corpse in the well during one of their thefts. The thieves had covered the well with planks, according to the prosecutor. “It was literally almost impossible to find.”

Aerial view of the pit where the bodies were found. © AFP

Three suspects

The site where the bodies were found, near the municipality of Santo Tomás, was near the remote seaside area where the missing men’s tents and truck were found on Thursday. In their last photos, the trip still seemed wonderful and problem-free. Local expats are now concerned about whether it is still safe to camp along the largely deserted coast.

Baja California prosecutors said they are questioning three people in the case. It concerns two men and a woman. One of those arrested is believed to have a history of violence, drug trafficking and theft, authorities said.

On Friday, the Public Prosecution Service announced that the three had been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, but that was before the bodies were found. It is unclear whether additional charges may be filed against them following this discovery. At least one of the suspects is suspected of having directly participated in the murders.

Last week, the mother of the missing Australians, Debra Robinson, posted an appeal on a local Facebook page for help finding her sons. She said she had not heard from Callum and Jake since April 27. Robinson said one of her sons was diabetic. She also said the American with them was named Jack Carter Rhoad, but the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City did not immediately confirm that.

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