Mexico has been shaken by the violent death of a six-year-old boy who was reportedly tortured, stoned and stabbed to death by two cousins and three other friends, all aged between 11 and 15, in a small shantytown in the northern state of Chihuahua.
The body of Christopher Márquez Mora was found on Saturday in a shallow grave in Laderas de San Guillermo, located on the outskirts of the state capital, which is also named Chihuahua.
The five juvenile suspects reportedly took him by the hand “to play kidnappers,” according to authorities.
This is a problem concerning a breakdown of society – not a police matter”
“This is a problem concerning a breakdown of society – not a police matter, but instead a loss of values,” said a shocked investigating prosecutor.
In a country where random murders take place each day, the case has become a wake-up call for Mexican society to reflect on how runaway violence has even affected the way children play.
“As a society, how should we respond to something like this?” asked the editor of the influential Mexican daily Excelsior in a column. “What do kids see in their surroundings that pushes them to play kidnappers?”
According to investigators, the five children had brutally killed a stray dog before they took Christopher. One of the eldest in the group, who led the children on their rampage, reportedly ordered his friends to search for another victim after they attacked the dog, authorities said.
At 10am on May 14 Christopher was playing by himself on a street near his home, as he often did. The children asked him to help them find wood to burn and Christopher followed.
The children brutally killed a stray dog before they took Christopher
He knew the kids in the group: two of them were his cousins and the others were friends from the dusty and dilapidated poor neighborhood.
When they reached a stream, the group asked Christopher if he wanted to play kidnappers. They then tied his hands and feet and choked him with a stick until he fell unconscious. The barbarities then followed.
They allegedly beat him, stoned him, and then stabbed him with a knife, say investigators.
Afterwards they dragged the boy’s body and tried to bury it in a shallow grave, covering it with loose dirt, plants and the dead dog.
The following day, as the police began searching for Christopher, one of the boys’ mothers approached them after her son told her what had happened.
The two eldest boys, both 15, could face 10-year prison sentences if they are found guilty: two girls, both aged 13, and another 11-year-old boy cannot be charged but could face other penalties, according to prosecutors.
The only remedy to cure this madness is to hand down justice”
Meanwhile, Mexico searches for answers. “This is a reflection of an entire generation that has been raised on the idea that if you kill someone you won’t face any consequences,” said journalist Sandra Rodríguez, who is the author of Fábrica del crimen (Factory of crime), an account of a 2004 murder committed by juveniles in Chihuahua.
“What can we expect if they live in a state that champions impunity and where life doesn’t matter? This is what they have learned. The only remedy to cure this madness is to hand down justice. Mexican institutions must make it clear that murder in Mexico is not going to be tolerated,” she said.
At the funeral on Sunday, the outrage poured out. “My son wasn’t a dog,” cried the grief-stricken mother.
During the past decade, 10,876 minors were murdered in Mexico. Last Thursday, Christopher became another one of them.