KIDNAPPERS dumped the body of Spanish football boss Angel Maria Villar’s niece in a stream with her hands and legs bound and a bag over her head, it emerged today.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo confirmed late on Monday that Maria Villar, 36, had been murdered in Mexico despite the payment of a ransom demand.
He said her body had been found in Toluca a short drive from Mexico City where she lived and worked for computer giant IBM.
The State of Mexico’s Deputy Prosecutor revealed today she was snatched after taking an unlicensed taxi near her workplace on Tuesday last week.
A post-mortem examination revealed she had died the following day after suffocating because of the bag that had been placed over her head.
German Garcia said her body was found two days after she was snatched in a stream near a village called Mirasol in the municipality of Santiago Tianguistenco close to the central Mexican city of Toluca.
Investigators only learned Maria, who was married and had been living in Mexico for just over three years, was the victim of a kidnap when her husband and a cousin identified her body at a local morgue.
Mr Garcia said: “We launched a murder inquiry because we didn’t know she had been kidnapped, although there was evidence, like the chains and the handcuffs, pointing towards that possibility.”
Maria’s body was due to be returned to her family later today.
News of the kidnap was kept secret after it occurred but friends and well-wishers launched a social media campaign for information.
One message said: “A friend has been missing since 9pm yesterday, when she called her husband to say she was on her way home.
“She took a taxi from the neighbourhood of Patio de Santa Fe to Polanco.
“Please help by sharing her photo. Her name is Maria Villar. She is Spanish but lives in Mexico City. Many thanks.”
The revelation of Mrs Villar’s kidnap came just days after her uncle, Spanish Football Federation president since 1988 and a former Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder, withdrew from the UEFA presidential election.
Villar was considered one of the front-runners to succeed the former UEFA boss Michel Platini before he dropped out of the presidential race in a surprise move on September 6.
Aleksander Ceferin, a Slovenian lawyer, beat rival Michael van Praag to become the new head of European football’s governing body last week.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, confirming the news of her death late last night from New York during an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero, said: “I found out this morning my time and it’s caused me enormous sorrow and upset.
“We were sure that sooner or later she would appear safe and sound”
Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo
“I spoke from the start with her uncle and we thought we were able to solve this easily because of the information we had and it’s not been the case.
“This kidnap happened on the night of Tuesday September 13.
“The kidnappers visited several cashpoints that night and called her family the following day and the family contacted us.
“From that moment an attache from our Interior Ministry contacted the police anti-kidnapping group in Mexico City.
“Her cousin subsequently flew to Mexico with two Spanish national police to try to resolve the issue with her husband.
“The ransom demand had been paid, albeit an amount below what was being asked for, and we were sure that sooner or later she would appear safe and sound.
“Unfortunately this has not been the case.
“The husband and cousin have been visiting several funeral parlours and the body has appeared in Toluca.
“I’ve just spoken to our Ambassador in Mexico who has just arrived in Toluca to help the family.
“It’s a very sad piece of news and totally unexpected.”
The captors are reported to have demanded a ransom of 9,000 Euros (£7,715).
Aparecida Schunk, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone’s mother-in-law, was kidnapped from her home in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in July.
The captors initially demanded £28million in ransom for her release but police later found her in a property west of the city tied up but unharmed.
Mr Ecclestone revealed afterwards he “never intended” to pay the ransom, joking: “All my friends know I wouldn’t pay a penny for a mother-in-law. Although I’d say she’s a good mother-in-law.”
In May former Olympiakos striker Alan Pulido was taken hostage in Ciudad Victoria, the capital city of Tamaulipas as he left a party. He later managed to escape.