- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

TENENEXPAN, Mexico — The bodies of three children slain in Baltimore were buried yesterday in Mexico, amid the wails of relatives who wondered aloud who could have killed them, and friends and family members demanding justice.

Ricardo Espinoza and sister Lucero Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Quezada, were found dead in their Baltimore apartment on May 27. One child had been beheaded and the others were nearly decapitated.

Two relatives have been taken into custody and face first-degree murder charges, but police and family members have no motive in the killings.

Born in Mexico City, the children emigrated to the United States with their parents, settling in Baltimore and living in the same apartment. Their bodies were brought back to this small farming village to be buried next to family members originally from Tenenexpan, as is customary in Mexico.

The bodies arrived Saturday, and relatives and friends from nearby villages poured into the town, tucked into the overgrowth of papaya, mango and chili fields. They attended an all-night vigil and, yesterday morning, carried the coffins down a hill to the local cemetery.

Using umbrellas to shield themselves from the heat and wiping at tears and sweat, hundreds carried flowers and quietly prayed as they followed the coffins to a corner of the crowded cemetery. A group of children walked ahead of the coffins, carrying signs that read: “Death for the killers” and “We are asking for justice.”

As the bodies were lowered into the ground, one of the mothers broke down.

“You are going to kill me,” Mimi Quezada, 40, the mother of Lucero and Ricardo, yelled at the sky. “My God, I don’t know why.” She had to be carried away by her husband, Ricardo, 35, who fought to support her while crying himself.

Maria Andrea, Alexis’ mother, screamed, “No son, not like this, no. Why, mama?”

Scattered among the graves, mourners struggled to comprehend what had happened.

One man cried, while Virginia Zarate wiped at tears and said to no one in particular, “It’s because there is no work here in Mexico. That’s why this happened.”

Mrs. Quezada and her husband left for the United States years ago. Tired of working as a secretary for little money, Mrs. Andrea, now 38, decided to join them, crossing illegally into the United States with her children in December. They are like many in this tiny village, where most men and many women either head to Mexico City or the United States in search of work. Those left behind struggle to survive as farm laborers.

Blanca Dominguez, a distant relative of the victims, followed the coffins with her family and said she hoped the killers got “the worst” possible punishment.

Mexicans, predominantly Roman Catholics, traditionally have opposed the death penalty.

But Lucero Lopez, a relative who helped organize the funeral, said no punishment is enough. “There is no way to pay for this,” she said.

The parents of the victims intend to spend a few more days in Mexico, then return to the United States. Although they were living in Baltimore illegally, the U.S. government gave them permission to stay and work for one year so that they can help with the case.

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