In hindsight, the murder of Mexican singer Yrma Lydya could have been a death foretold. Details of the perpetrator’s character and modus operandi have surfaced in the days since the murder, none of them good. Last Thursday night, in the middle of a packed restaurant specializing in Japanese food, Suntory, Jesús Hernández Alcocer pulled out a gun and shot the 21-year-old woman point blank. The crime has elicited widespread attention not only because of its brazenness or the victim’s public fame. The man who pulled the trigger was himself a well-known and influential figure in judicial and political circles, Because of that, some fear that the murder could go unpunished.
A video published by the media and allegedly in the hands of Mexico City prosecutors provides new information for the investigation. The footage shows a red van in which a third person involved in the murder was traveling, an individual named Omar who is in Hernández’s employment and who took away the weapon used in the crime. Prosecutors have located the high-caliber gun, which according to local reports is capable of penetrating bulletproof vests. The alleged accomplice, however, is on the run. As for Hernández Alcocer, he was arrested and is currently being held at Mexico City’s Reclusorio Norte prison.
Friends of the victim are revealing to the media that the woman was being abused by her husband and that she wanted to break off the relationship. All the classic elements of abuse were there. Friends said that she had filed a complaint against Hernández Alcocer in December of last year, but later dropped it, a common occurrence in these cases. The family buried the 21-year-old on Monday and asked for justice.
Some journalists are familiar with Hernández Alcocer as the legal representative in Bishop Onésimo Cepeda’s fraud case, which ended in an acquittal in 2015. The writer and reporter Emiliano Ruiz Parra portrays the murderer as a figure akin to a 1920s gangster, both because of his ostentatious clothing and his bravado. During Ruiz’s meeting years ago with the lawyer at a Mexico City steakhouse, he recounts, the man bragged about having met Pope John Paul II, then asked the waitress for a kiss. Those who have had contact with him in recent weeks say that his behavior has not changed.
The singer Dulce, who shared the stage with Yrma Lydya, told EL PAÍS that Hernández Alcocer constantly boasted about his legal contacts. “If you have a problem with the law, you just tell me and I’ll solve it for you,” he used to tell the artist. She also notes that the victim’s mother had no sympathy for her son-in-law, who was 58 years older than her daughter. Perhaps she noticed how Hernández Alcocer tried to separate her from Yrma Lydya. The deceased singer hid from her husband when she visited her mother, and he monitored her via three bodyguards that observed her every step.
The man’s contacts in high places are not limited to the judicial sphere. He is known to have connections in the military and in politics. The journalist Raymundo Riva Palacio cites military sources to recount the man’s connection with General Audomaro Martínez Zapata, director of Mexico’s National Intelligence Center. He says that the lawyer dined at Suntory almost every day, a gold-plated pistol hanging from his belt. The general and the lawyer were business partners in a security company, the reporter writes, though neither of their names were officially tied to the business: it was registered in the name of Hernández Alcocer’s son.
The alleged killer bragged so much that it is difficult to discern the true scope of his influence. At a 2013 meeting with the writer Ruiz Parra, who works for the investigative journalism outlet Corriente Alterna, Hernández Alcocer wore a white silk shirt under a striped suit and suspenders, with a diamond-studded watch and a glittering tie. The writer recounts that they shared a table with a man who offered Hernández Alcocer a stake in a jewelry and car pawn shop; with a man who said he was his son; and with a twenty-something girlfriend. (Hernández Alcocer has had two other wives, both young women who died in unclear circumstances.)
The businessman had a reputation for being a dark character. He was known to have connections with the country’s security forces, including former Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna, who is now in jail in the United States. “I told my friends that I would meet him at that restaurant, that I would go alone, and that they already knew where they could look for me if I didn’t report back,” Ruiz Parra recalls.
A few weeks before Lydya’s death, the couple hosted a meal at their home in Pedregal, a wealthy neighborhood in the south of Mexico City. They invited composers and PR agents, in hopes of relaunching the singer’s career. Her husband said he would do anything necessary to promote her music. Yrma Lydya wore jewels and an elegant outfit. She sang for the guests, recalls the artist’s agent, Víctor Hugo Sánchez. She performed a bolero by Armando Manzanero, Señor Amor. The guests remember the Pedregal house as enormous and full of luxury objects. Many of the stories currently circulating about Hernández Alcocer cite his good wine and bad manners.
On the night of Thursday, June 23, Hernández Alcocer pulled the trigger against his young wife under the lights of Suntory, then returned to business as usual, attempting to buy his escape from the agents who came to detain him. Images of his arrest show a handcuffed man,, his white shirt and gray pants matching his striped tie.