Debanhi case | Interview with Mario Escobar: “Until they prove otherwise, I still think my daughter was murdered”

A week after the young Mexican Debanhi Escobar was found dead, the investigation to clarify what happened continues to become entangled with the appearance of new details that remain unanswered numerous questions.

The publication of new videos from security cameras, the dismissal of two specialized prosecutors for omissions during the case or the statements on television programs by those who were with her the night of her disappearance have continued to fuel doubts about this case, which became in one of the most mediatic among the wave of disappearances of young girls suffered by the northern state of Nuevo León.

The father of the 18-year-old law student, mario escobarwas especially critical of the initial work of the authorities, who had already searched the motel facilities on four occasions where Debanhi was finally found dead.

The investigation of the case, reclassified from disappearance to femicide, still does not clarify the circumstances in which Debanhi ended up inside an abandoned water tank.

According to the authorities, all the lines are open and there is no hypothesis considered as main.

Serene and tired, Mario Escobar spoke via video call with BBC Mundo to share the latest details of the investigation.

Professor, like his wife, emphatically emphasizes that will not stop fighting until the case is clarified and justice is done with which was his only daughter.

Three weeks have passed since Debanhi’s disappearance and one week since he was found dead. How are you and your wife?

Obviously, we are devastated by the news. For not finding her alive, that was the intention. But well, in the end the girl was found, so in a way, I am more serene and calmer because we now have a place to cry.

Mario Escobar and his wife, Dolores Bazaldua, trust that the authorities will end up clarifying the circumstances of their daughter’s death.

Is it true that you have received death threats?

Yes, I don’t know if they will be at stake or if they will be true. They leaked my phone and I have received thousands of calls every day. But most of them are from people supporting us, supporting the cause, so that femicides end in [el estado de] Nuevo Leon and throughout Mexico.

I think that’s exactly what they talked to Debanhi about before he went out that Friday night.

Yes, my wife told him: “don’t go out, look, there’s a lot of insecurity, stay here”. I showed him the photos of the 14 or 16 disappeared that were circulating then on social networks. It was the last day of school and she wanted to have fun. They don’t listen at that age, they don’t see the problems that can happen.

Indeed, there is a worrying increase in the disappearance of young girls in Nuevo León. What is the situation today for adolescents and young women in the state, and in Mexico in general?

They have the right to have fun, it is not okay that bad people want to cut off that fun. But they also have to listen to the hearts of parents and teachers when they tell them that there is a lot of violence, femicides… I tell them that they have their whole lives ahead of them to have some fun.

Protest after discovery of Debanhi's body.


What about you and the rest of the parents of young girls? How do they experience this situation of crisis and insecurity?

In Mexico you cannot live in peace because every time your child goes out, and even more so if he is your only son or daughter, regardless of whether he is a man or a woman, you are aware that he will return safely. Sometimes they say: “I can now, I can take care of myself, nothing is going to happen”, but sometimes things don’t work out that way. I hope that my daughter’s case is a trigger for the insecurity situation in Nuevo León and Mexico to change, you can’t live like this.

How do you remember those days from Debanhi’s disappearance until she was found? Did she always hope to find her alive?

I never, never, never, never lost hope of finding my daughter alive. I always had the faith in my God to find her alive, until the last moment I prayed to find her alive. We were psychologically prepared that we could find her in any way, but our hearts always told us that we were going to find her alive. And well, it wasn’t.

The investigation of the case has been full of questions from the beginning, and you have harshly criticized the work of the authorities, especially the Prosecutor’s Office. What is your biggest complaint towards the process?

The biggest criticism is that it took us a long time to do this, to get to this point where videos come out and a lot of people start posting individual videos. Now videos are leaked that are supposed to be in chain of custody by the authorities, and well, whoever has to pay has to pay. That is not for me to decide.

Search for Debanhi Escobar.


That there were irregularities was confirmed this week when the dismissal of two officials was announced, including the prosecutor specialized in Missing Persons with whom you were especially critical, for “omissions” and “deficiencies” during the investigation, said the attorney general of the condition. Have you specified what those failures were?

It is very obvious: that after four sessions [de búsqueda en la zona del motel donde apareció Debanhi] in which they were there, they did not find it. If they didn’t find her, I suppose it’s because she wasn’t there. to the fifth [búsqueda], they find it. Well, that is what we are trying to verify.

What is the explanation given by the authorities for why it was not found in those first four searches? Didn’t she specifically search the cistern where she appeared?

Like I said, I guess they didn’t find it because they had every chance to check those parts. Later, they find her. Let’s see what determines the expert opinion, the analysis, the recreation of facts, what can come out, what the Prosecutor’s Office has and the videos that remain to be checked.

You pointed out the possibility that someone had planted the body days after those searches, do you still think about it?

Yes. I mean, definitely no line of investigation is ruled out until proven otherwise, I’ve always said that. And the analysis of the expert opinion is going to give us many explanations and many things are going to be defined. Maybe some things are true, others false, some set up, others not set up. But I am hopeful that now we are on the right track and this situation will be resolved.

Then he returns to trust in the Prosecutor’s Office after these changes and that it will be known how Debanhi died.

Yes, I am hopeful that, now, we will find the true result and it will be clarified in coordination with all the authorities involved: the support of the federal commission by President López Obrador, of the state by [el gobernador de Nuevo León] Samuel García, the Attorney General’s Office… Now there are many people thanks to whom we can be certain that this ends as it should.

"I hope my daughter

Why do you think the motel where Debanhi appeared was initially uncooperative and initially denied that their surveillance cameras were recording?

It is now up to the authorities to establish responsibilities with the people involved in the process, and that is the right thing to do. Well, the correct thing is that from the first day they would have told us that there were cameras. Believe me, I would have a quiet life with my daughter here yelling “Debanhi!” at her, which I still do every day at home, I can’t stop doing it because it’s a way of being with her.

In those videos, her daughter can be seen walking alone through the motel facilities and no person can be seen with her. However, there are no images showing how she ended up in the cistern, so the Prosecutor’s Office says that consider all hypotheses. Do you still think that she was murdered and rule out that she fell by accident?

That’s right, definitely. Until they prove otherwise, I still think my daughter was murdered, I’m not going to change my mind. Many videos continue to come out, and this will give us the guideline to hold responsibilities to people who deserve it.

Forensic tests determined that he died of a severe concussion to the head, but you said you didn’t trust the official results and ordered your own autopsy. What do those results show, are they different from the official ones?

I cannot reveal the results, they are being analyzed by the lawyers. Many causes of death are going to be determined there and, if there are differences, the competent authority has to determine it.

The head of the forensic medical service said that Debanhi was alive when she fell into the cistern, although later the attorney general qualified his words.

It is a version of the person who deciphers the autopsy, but it does not mean that it is the truth. That’s why we put in another expert opinion to compare, and well, establish responsibilities if they exist. And if it is what he says, then let him verify it with facts, images, photos. That is what he said, and immediately afterwards, both the Femicide prosecutor and the attorney general clarified that all the hypotheses were open.

He talks to many media outlets, participates in press conferences… where does he get his strength from?

From my wife. of my wrist [muestra una perrita a cámara], which belonged to my daughter. She is called Bombona. Now he misses her. It’s my turn to take care of her because she misses her mom a lot, Debanhi.

mario escobar

Mario Escobar spoke with BBC Mundo from his home via video call.

In all this maelstrom, have you had moments to reflect on what happened?

Obviously I know that my daughter is no longer with us physically, but she is in my heart, that of my wife and that of my dog. I think I will never assimilate it, because I will think that she left on a trip and that one day she will return. And if not, then I’m going to catch up.

What is the main objective of this fight that you are leading through constant meetings with authorities, media presence…?

My goal is for this not to happen again. My daughter fought for a different world, for equality, against injustice. She was in the Women’s Day marches, I gave her permission. Us [sus padres]as teachers, is the least we can instill in our children.

Mario Escobar and his wife, Dolores Bazaldua.

Debanhi was the only daughter of Mario Escobar and his wife.

Do you have any idea when a final conclusion of the investigation might be known?

There are many teams working and I have a team of lawyers verifying all the situations. We hope to have information soon because this is already a global situation. All of Mexico turned to see Debanhi, and the world turned to see what is happening in Mexico because this cannot continue to happen. We hope it doesn’t happen again.

Do you want to send a message to all those people who are aware of your daughter’s case and who have shown their support in protests and demonstrations?

Tell them we’re not going to stop. Maybe we see ourselves calmer, more tired because a long time has passed, but we continue with all our hearts to be able to try to tell the truth.

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