The home on Medellín Street in Mexico City is now a crime scene and the latest manifestation of the rampant violence that plagues the country. Three people were killed behind the black doors that are now guarded by two police officers. A handful of journalists hang around outside, hoping for new information that will explain why this happened. The only thing the public knows for sure is that Luis Gonzáles and his two nephews, Andrés and Jorge Tirado were found dead in their home on December 18. They were still gagged, and their bodies showed signs of a beating. Two women and a man were quickly arrested as suspects in the murders. Those are the unfortunate facts – three more murders in a country that tallies dozens of homicides every day. The only thing unusual about these particular murders is the motive and alleged perpetrators of the crime – the victims and suspects lived together in the same house. According to sources in the public prosecutor’s office, the victims were beaten, gagged and strangled for refusing to hand over the deed to the house.
When the police arrived, they found three corpses and one person who was still alive – Gonzalez’s wife, Margarita María Ochoa. The house once belonged to Ochoa’s brother, who died last May. A nurse and her daughter and son-in-law lived on the first floor. The nurse, who had been the homeowner’s caregiver, wanted to take possession of the property after his death, claiming that she was his common-law spouse. But she could not provide any legal evidence of this relationship, according to sources in the public prosecutor’s office. A few months later, Luis González and Margarita Ochoa moved into the second floor of the house on Medellín Street. They were from Jalisco (central Mexico) and Ochoa was planning to sell the house. Then González’s nephews, the Tirado brothers, moved in. The seven people lived in the same house for months, while Margarita Ochoa tried to sell the house. Meanwhile, the first-floor tenants were trying to block the sale.
When the Tirado brothers stopped responding to messages, their friends began suspecting something was wrong and posted alerts on social media. Ochoa and González weren’t responding to their children’s attempts to contact them either, so one of their sons in Jalisco decided to go to Mexico City. According to our sources, the first-floor tenants refused to let him enter the building, so he went to the authorities and filed for eviction of the nurse and the two others.
The eviction complaint set things in motion, but when the Mexico City police went to the home on Medellín Street, they were also prevented from entering. The police quickly obtained a court order to access the property and confronted the nurse and her relatives. But the police became suspicious about their contradictory stories and arrested the three suspects.
The Tirado brothers were last seen on December 16 driving a late-model gray car with Jalisco state license plates. The following day, friends and family began circulating photos on social media asking for any information regarding their whereabouts. In Mexico, a violence-wracked country with more than 100,000 missing persons, the photos could have easily disappeared in the flood of similar pleas. But these two young men, a musician and an actor who were trying to launch careers in Mexico City, were known to many and the news spread like wildfire. With that came more pressure on the authorities to find them.
The first police officers showed up at the home on December 17. “Police were coming and going since the early morning, and I think some relatives as well,” said a waiter at a nearby restaurant. “A few police started investigating and asking questions on Saturday [December 17],” said a neighbor. “Then 20 police cars and vans arrived yesterday [December 18]. They asked us if we had seen anything suspicious and if we had any security cameras. We showed them the security camera recordings, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.” The neighbor told us that he wasn’t home after 3pm on the day of the disappearance. When he returned at 2am, the street was quiet, and nothing led him to suspect that four people were being held captive inside the building. “This street is closed to traffic on Fridays because there is an informal market here every week. There’s a lot of activity, and this type of thing makes people uneasy.”
It’s still unclear why the killers left Margarita Ochoa alive. She claims to have been beaten and all her bank cards were stolen. Our sources say there is no evidence that other people were involved, and are confident that the perpetrators are the three who were arrested.
The neighbor we spoke to says he had a conversation once with the nurse. “It’s a very strange house because you almost never saw anyone going in or out. The lady they arrested lived there with her daughter. She once told my cleaning staff in passing that she took care of sick people. Every now and then, she would sweep the sidewalk in front, but the house was always closed up and dark.” Like all the neighbors we interviewed, he didn’t know the Tirado brothers, who had recently arrived to live there. A man who owns a business at the end of Medellín Street says he often saw Luis González passing by. “He would say hello, but not much else.”
There are still more questions than answers about the three murders. So far, it seems that the house is at the center of everything. The two-story building’s stone façade looks neglected and dirty. There are many homes like this in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood – stately residences long past their days of splendor. Now the home on Medellín Street has become the evidence and probable cause of an as-yet unsolved crime.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition