MISSING CHILDREN

Police report from October found remains of Ruth and José in bonfire

Technician disregarded findings, concluding that bones belonged to animals

The police investigating the disappearance of the children of José Bretón were given a forensic report as far back as October 24 of last year that stated that among the remains of a bonfire found on a rural family property there was a piece of material “that was compatible with a garment of a child aged between two and four years.”

The report, sources close to the investigation told EL PAÍS, was sent by the forensic police’s chemistry laboratory, and had already been read by police anthropology technician, Josefina Lamas, when on November 11 of last year she sent a report stating categorically that bones found in the ashes of the fire were not human, but instead belonged to “rodents and small carnivores.”

This report led the police to disregard the thesis that Bretón had killed Ruth, aged six, and José, aged two, and burned their bodies in the bonfire. The pair disappeared on October 8, just after Bretón’s wife had asked for a divorce.

Not until last month did a new report confirm that the bones were indeed human, and belonged to children of the same age as Ruth and José. The chemistry lab experts analyzed a button, a scrap of material from the armpit area of a piece of clothing, and earth taken from the remains of the fire.

When preparing her report, Lamas reached the conclusion that the bones found in the blaze — which may have reached temperatures as high as 800ºC — were not human, without explaining the reasoning that had led her to that assumption. Nor did she include in her analysis, which was nine pages long, a single bibliographical reference. Lamas was this week dismissed from her job.

A fourth report has now confirmed that the bones found at the Las Quemadillas property are “unequivocally human.” This last report coincides with that carried out by forensic scientist Francisco Etxeberria on the request of the mother of the missing children, Ruth Ortiz.

The remains correspond to two minors, “one who is clearly around six years old, and another who is between two and three,” explained the director of the Complutense University’s School of Legal Medicine, Bernardo Perea. “There are no remains with characteristics of animals.”

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