OAXACA, Mexico (AP) - A Mexican construction worker with a previous conviction for raping a foreign tourist was one of two men sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1998 rape and killing of American artist Carol Janet Schlosberg.
After a nearly yearlong delay due to jurisdictional disputes, an Oaxaca state court in the Pacific coast town of Pochutla announced the guilty verdict Tuesday, just days after the two men confessed to the attack.
Bricklayer Cirilo Olivera Lopez and Rosendo Marquez Gutierrez, a local drifter, said in court late last week they had been drinking at a storefront bar in the nearby resort town of Puerto Escondido on March 29, 1998, when they saw Schlosberg, who was vacationing from Vermont, walking alone on the beach.
They decided to rape her on Zicatela beach, located 280 miles southeast of Mexico City. After raping and beating Schlosberg, they tossed her - still alive - into the Pacific, where she drowned.
Schlosberg had tried to fight her attackers, scratching them and leaving marks that ultimately incriminated the men. When police arrested Olivera Lopez at his construction job on April 2, 1998, he claimed the scratches were caused when a bucket of cement fell on him at work.
But a witness to the attack, Praxedis Ramirez, identified both men, and bite marks on Scholsberg's body matched the two men's teeth.
The two said they had met in a prison in nearby Pochutla, where Olivera Lopez was serving a sentence for the rape and robbery of another foreign tourist in Puerto Escondido. Marquez Gutierrez was serving time for assault.
The two men were sentenced Tuesday to the maximum of 40 years on each count of rape and murder, with the terms to be served concurrently.
A land dispute between two municipalities - both of which claim Puerto Escondido falls within their boundaries - had delayed the case, causing it to bounce between one court in Pochutla and another in the state capital of Oaxaca for nearly a year.
Schlosberg, 40, was a well-known artist in the New Haven, Conn., area. She taught at Yale from 1990 until October 1997, when she moved to Vermont.
From the New Haven, Connecticut Register:
Friday, April 3, 1998
A former New Haven artist who taught at the Yale University School of Art was murdered last weekend while vacationing on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
Carol Jayne Schlosberg, 40, was drowned Sunday in Puerto Escondido, a popular beach and surfing resort, after being attacked and raped while walking on Zicatela beach, said Jose Martinez of the Oaxaca state police.
Police are seeking two suspects, one of whom has been identified, said Noel Matias, a spokesman for the Judicial Police in Oaxaca, the state capital, which is about five hours north of Puerto Escondido.
Schlosberg's mother, Jane Schlosberg, said her daughter was walking on the beach early Sunday afternoon when she was attacked.
>From her Arizona home Thursday, Jane Schlosberg said her daughter was traveling with a male companion, but he was not with her on the beach.
Carol's sister, Lynda Bazin of Carlyle, Mass., and Carol's travel companion, Timothy Courts, who lived with her in Vermont, are staying with Jane Schlosberg and her husband, Robert, at their home in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jane Schlosberg said.
"We feel outrage and sadness and grief and disbelief. She was a beautiful person and there's no reason why anyone should have done this to her," Jane Schlosberg said. "She wouldn't hurt anyone. She was a beautiful soul."
Martinez said Carol Schlosberg was raped and murdered about 1:30 p.m., apparently biting her assailant during the struggle.
A clerk in a nearby store told police a man who appeared to be drunk came by a short while later and asked for a soft drink, then ran away, Martinez said. The clerk gave police a detailed description of the man.
No eyewitnesses have surfaced, Martinez said.
"This is the first (murder) case in Puerto Escondido of an American," he said.
Carol Schlosberg lived in New Haven from 1990 until last October, when she moved to Vermont. She was a popular painter, a student and later a teacher at the Yale School of Art, and an artist at a local graphic design company.
She and Courts had been traveling through Mexico since March 18 and planned to return to Vermont before the end of this month, Jane Schlosberg said.
Carol Schlosberg's body is being transported to Arizona. Funeral arrangements will be announced within the next few days, her mother said. It is unclear where services will be held.
Carol Schlosberg's brother-in-law, Jim Bazin, has been contacting congressional leaders urging them to press for a thorough investigation.
Friends in New Haven said they were outraged and saddened by Schlosberg's death. The said she was a talented painter and a caring, committed part of the community.
"We are absolutely stunned and horrified and deeply, deeply grieved," said Stacey Gemmill, director of financial affairs at the Yale School of Art and a friend of Schlosberg's since she enrolled in the school's master's degree program in the early 1990s.
"She was a very remarkable person . . . She was very unafraid of taking on new things in life," Gemmill said. "She was very much a part of the New Haven community."
Schlosberg grew up in Massachusetts and earned an undergraduate degree from Montserrat College of Art in that state in 1990. She showed her work in Massachusetts and Connecticut and was the 1989 recipient of an Ellen Battell Stoeckel fellowship at Yale Norfolk Summer School.
She settled in New Haven after earning her master of fine arts degree from Yale in 1992. She taught at Yale until 1995 and worked at John Gambell Graphic Design on Crown Street until October.
"She had incredible breadth of personality and a range of abilities," said Gambell, her boss for four years. "She moved gracefully among all of the different roles that she filled."
Gambell said he met Schlosberg at Yale and hired her for office work. Later he assigned her graphic art projects and eventually she took on his biggest account. He said she was intense about her work.
"She had tremendous focus in her painting," he said, adding that she took criticism very seriously. On a more personal level, "She was somebody whose depth and quality of personality came through very strongly. She really cared about people. She really really loved children."
Natalie Charkow, who was a visiting critic in Yale's graduate program when Schlosberg was at Yale, described Schlosberg as "beautiful and vibrant and intelligent."
With her painting, "She had a very personalized vision. It really altered very little" while she was at Yale, Charkow said.
"She also was someone who was very attuned to the problems that women artists face," Charkow said. "She was a very gentle, quiet person, but she was strong in a gentle way."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
New Haven Register
Saturday, April 4, 1998
NEW HAVEN - U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Friday joined others imploring the Mexican government to make "every attempt" to bring to justice the killers of former New Haven artist Carol Jayne Schlosberg. ([New Haven] Editor's Note - Do you feel safe about traveling abroad? Join a CTcentral discussion.)
Meanwhile, police in Mariposa County, Ariz., near Schlosberg's parents' Scottsdale home, agreed to perform a second autopsy on the body, to include DNA testing, said James Bazin of Carlisle, Mass., husband of the late artist's sister, Lynda Bazin.
"She was this gentle little flower," James Bazin said. "No one can really conceive that anyone would want to do this to her."
Schlosberg, 40, grew up in Weston, Mass., received a master's degree from Yale and lived in New Haven from 1990 to 1997 before moving to Chelsea, Vt.
She was brutally raped and drowned in broad daylight Sunday while walking on Zicatela beach - one of the top 10 surfing beaches in the world - in Puerto Escondido, a town of 20,000 people on Mexico's Pacific Coast in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Mexican authorities say she was bitten several times during the attack. Family members, who faced the grim task Thursday and Friday of receiving and viewing her body and making funeral arrangements, said she was beaten as well, according to James Bazin.
Schlosberg's death has spawned outrage both among friends and relatives in the U.S. and among residents and business people in Puerto Escondido, a popular beach and surfing resort several hours' drive from both the city of Oaxaca and Acapulco, Mexico's best-known Pacific resort, he said.
The dean of the Yale University School of Art, at which Schlosberg taught after graduating, released a statement expressing sympathy.
"All of us at the Yale School of Art are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, Carol Schlosberg," wrote Dean Richard Benson. "She will always be remembered by those who knew her, for the warmth of her personality, the helpfulness of her nature and the strength of her work as an artist."
Schlosberg's death "strikes us as though a beloved family member has suddenly been taken away," he said.
Kennedy's letter to the Mexican ambassador followed written pleas a day earlier from Benson and U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan, D-Mass.
Schlosberg's family is "extremely concerned that the persons responsible for this horrible crime will not be brought to justice," Kennedy wrote. "I am apprising you of this situation in the hopes that you may be able to assure the Bazins that every attempt will be made to bring those involved in the crime to justice."
A spokesman for the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C., Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, pledged that the Oaxaca state police will do everything that can be done.
"No police force in any part of the world has a 100 percent rate of success," Zabalgoitia said, "but the Oaxaca police are taking this very seriously."
Oaxaca police believe there were two assailants involved and have identified a suspect they believe was one of them, Zabalgoitia said. "They will be conducting the investigations in a professional way," he said.
Jose Martinez of the Oaxaca state police in Puerto Escondido told the Register that a clerk in a nearby store told police that a man who appeared to be drunk came by shortly after the time the murder was believed to have been committed, asked for a soft drink and then fled.
The clerk gave a detailed description of the man, he said.
Benson told Mexican Ambassador Jesus Reyes Heroles, "I am writing this letter to express my shock and horror at the tragic and unnecessary death of our colleague, Carol Schlosberg, and to urge you to pursue this investigation with the utmost vigor."
Schlosberg's murder "does much to undermine the vital connection between our adjacent countries," Benson wrote, "and the hundreds of friends of Carol Schlosberg will view Mexico in a different light because of this."
Meehan wrote, "I feel it is our responsibility to ensure the victim's family that the investigation of this horrible crime be conducted with the utmost integrity and professionalism."
Schlosberg's travel companion, Timothy Courts, wasn't with her at the time of the attack. Courts, with whom Schlosberg lived in Vermont, was staying with her parents, Jane and Robert Schlosberg, this week in Arizona.
New Haven Register
Sunday, April 5, 1998
Some people in Puerto Escondido, the Pacific Mexico beach resort where former New Havener Carol Schlosberg was raped and murdered last week, are thinking twice before they walk the beach alone. ([New Haven] Editor's Note - Do you feel safe traveling abroad? Join a CTcentral discussion.)
But those interviewed by phone Saturday say despite the shock of what happened - and their outrage - they consider Puerto Escondido, in the southern state of Oaxaca, a safe place that residents and tourists need not fear.
''If I felt that way, I'd be packing up to leave,'' said Pamela Stephens, an expatriate Northern Californian who has visited Puerto Escondido since 1990 and lived there for 1 1/2 years.
But despite what happened, ''In the neighborhood that I live in, I feel absolutely safe any time of the day or night,'' said Stephens, an acquaintance of Schlosberg who is co-publisher of the Puerto Escondido Sun, a monthly English language newspaper.
The beach where the attack occurred, ''is a long, white sand beach'' where many people can see what's going on, she said. ''So for something like this to happen - in broad daylight - it just doesn't make sense.''
Schlosberg, 40, lived in New Haven from 1990 to 1997 and taught at the Yale University School of Art after earning her master's degree there. She went to Mexico on a motorcycle trip with Timothy Courts, with whom she lived in her new home in Chelsea, Vt., said her brother-in-law, James Bazin of Carlisle, Mass.
She was raped and drowned in broad daylight last Sunday as she walked along a rocky stretch of Zicatela beach, considered one of the world's top 10 surfing beaches.
Stephens and other Puerto Escondido residents and visitors spoke the same day that, thousands of miles north in Arizona, the Maricopa County medical examiner's office conducted a second autopsy on Schlosberg's body.
Arizona officials were not releasing results of the autopsy, by the MaricopaCounty medical examiners's office conducted in Arizona.
Family members pushed for the autopsy in hopes of getting DNA evidence that might help Mexican authorities catch the killer or killers.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Philip Keen reported only that the cause and manner of death were ''pending investigation,'' said Dennis Teten, a spokesman for Keen's office.
Mexican authorities have said the first autopsy found Schlosberg died of drowning, and was raped and bitten several times.
Oaxaca state police said Saturday there was nothing new in the case and no arrests.
Several prominent Americans, including U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D- Mass., U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan, D-Mass., and Yale School of Art Dean Richard Benson have written to the Mexican ambassador, asking him to do all he can to ensure that the killer or killers are brought to justice.
Elsewhere along Zicatela beach, Puerto Escondido native Genaro Alcazar said people are afraid because the killer hasn't been caught and because they worry the news will drive away visitors.
''People are afraid about this action because they don't know what really happened,'' said Alcazar, manager of the Puerto Belmar Villa beach hotel. ''People are afraid because it doesn't happen very often - and especially with Americans.''
People in Puerto Escondido ''are very friendly with Americans,'' who, along with Canadians, make up the majority of Puerto Escondido's visitors from December to April. Europeans dominate in July and August, he said.
Alcazar said he thinks the killing was a freak occurrence, not a sign that the town, with a population estimated at 20,000 to 35,000, is changing.
Sunday, April 12, 1998
PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Mexico - The spot where Carol Schlosberg's body was
discovered, floating in the Pacific surf, faces the back of a beachfront
home. It can be seen from two cheap seafood restaurants, a popular surfing
beach, and a dozen condominiums built along a peninsula..
It was a hazy Sunday, sometime after noon, when the Weston native was murdered on March 29. The beach was lightly populated with joggers and surfers, Mexicans and gringos, and tourists like Schlosberg - a 40-year-old artist walking alone on the sand with nothing more valuable than her thoughts..
Authorities believe there are witnesses who saw a man beat, rape, and drown Schlosberg that day, then apparently try to push her out to sea. No one has come forward, however, in a case that shows why Mexico's corruption-riddled criminal justice system has been overwhelmed by a crime wave that has victimized both Mexicans and foreigners..
''The notion that people might have been watching, it disgusts me,'' said Timothy Courts, who lived with Schlosberg in Chelsea, Vt., and had taken his girlfriend to Mexico on what was to be a two-month motorcycle excursion. ''On a Mexican beach? In broad daylight?''.
To many, the murder's brutality seems compounded by the gentleness of the victim. Schlosberg was a former art instructor at Yale University who loved abstract painting and vintage motorcycle racing. She moved to Vermont last year to live with Courts and his 14-year-old son Zack..
The case has also raised questions about the effectiveness of American diplomats here. In the numb aftermath, Schlosberg's relatives said they had hoped to receive comfort from US consular officials in Mexico and Washington who at least could provide guidance and regular updates of the Mexican investigation. Instead, outraged family members said their questions have been met with complacency and a coolly inefficient bureaucracy..
After transporting his girlfriend's body for six hours to the state capital, Oaxaca City, Courts found himself alone in the middle of a three-hour, late-night interrogation with a state police officer in a language he was scarcely able to understand. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Mexico City waited four days to dispatch two officials to the scene, according to the family, and seemed unaware of even basic developments in the case. US Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, said US officials had failed to provide basic information to the family and did not appear ''interested in making waves unless they had to.''.
''What, in the name of God, could be more important - should be more important - to our embassy in Mexico City, than the murder of an American citizen?'' said James D. Bazin, Schlosberg's brother-in-law, who lives in Carlisle, Mass..
US officials in Mexico City refused interviews over the phone, apparently fearing wiretaps, and referred all questions to the State Department. ''Almost always the demand for information is greater than the actual existence of information,'' said Lee McClenny, a State Department spokesman. ''It's very difficult to meet the demand of a family after the death of a loved one.''.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington said officials in Mexico appeared to have met their responsibilities, but was unable to answer specific questions about the case..
From the beginning, when a Puerto Escondido port official ignored a caller who warned ''they're killing an American woman'' at the Zicatela Point, the case has been marked by dramatic missteps. Police first called the death a simple drowning, only to disclose that Schlosberg had been raped, bitten, and severely beaten. The investigation also has been slowed by the lack of a fluent English-speaking detective, even though some tips have come from within the sizable American community here..
However, by far the greatest obstacle has been the wall of silence erected by locals who live in fear of retribution from whoever committed the murder, and who regard the police with such contempt that some refused even to help remove the body from the water. ''There are many people who saw this,'' said Jaime Colon, the deputy state attorney general handling the investigation. ''The problem is they don't want to cooperate with us.'' Last week, the governor of Oaxaca, Diodoro Carrasco, called the murder ''totally unusual'' for Puerto Escondido and said the special prosecutor's group had several leads..
In addition to the unidentified caller, other apparent witnesses have been reported. Mario Grossi, the owner of a local pizza restaurant who was running on the beach that afternoon, said he was approached by a Mexican surfer who said he had seen a ''guy putting a girl in the ocean. I said, `Let's go and have a look,''' said Grossi. ''So he said to me, `No, because I think the guy who did it is hiding behind the beach.'''.
Police said they also have been told of two young ''foreigners'' who came off the beach and told people, ''They're beating up a woman out there.'' The two people, who have not been seen since, emerged from the beach shortly after a 12-year-old boy refused service to an inebriated man who had stumbled into one of the seafood restaurants wearing dirty pants, a soiled green shirt, and cowboy boots with spurs. The man then wandered off in the direction of where the body was found. Investigators regard him as their primary suspect, and believe the spurs may have caused some mysterious wounds on Schlosberg's body.
Recession, and violence
Crime has been rising in Mexico since late 1994, when a poorly executed
devaluation of the peso triggered a deep recession, wiping out the savings
of millions and throwing one to two million people out of work. The violence
has taken various forms, from a rash of drug-related murders along the
US-Mexico border to an escalation of political violence all across the
Few places in Mexico have been untouched by the crime wave, and Puerto Escondido, a sleepy resort community of 35,000, is no exception. Most disputes are between families or gangs, but sometimes foreigners have been targeted. In the last year, an American woman was stabbed to death in a town 35 miles south of here. And the ex-patriate community here was rocked by the machete slaying of a well-liked Irishman and the brutal killing of an American drifter..
No local resident could ever remember a crime being solved by local police. Instead, they said, it is often the police who commit the crimes. Earlier this year, some foreign residents and business people circulated a petition calling for an end to police corruption after officers were seen shaking down tourists with shotguns..
One senior law enforcement official acknowledged that the local police agencies are rudimentary at best. ''We are essentially incompetent,'' admitted the official, who asked not to be identified out of fear he would get fired. ''We don't have the resources we need to investigate. Our methods are very primitive. You pick up the guy - pow, pow, pow. You ask him what he knows and he tells you.''
A painter since childhood
Still, even those most cynical about the lawlessness have been shocked at
the Schlosberg murder..
''There's just no way that this was supposed to be her destiny,'' said Lynda A. Bazin, who was four years younger than her only sister. ''They don't know what kind of life they took, and, oh, that makes me so angry.''.
''Violence is the one thing about Carol that is impossible to conjure up any images of. It just doesn't connect to the loving, caring and compassionate person she was,'' added Stuart Elster, a former boyfriend, of Long Island City, N.Y. ''To think of it at all is deeply, deeply disturbing and horrible.''.
Schlosberg seeemd to wrap herself in contradictions. Just 5 feet 3 inches tall, she painted big, in sweeping, colorful abstracts, sometimes 4 feet high, using circles and other geometric shapes that seemed to describe infinity. She had painted since she was a child, losing herself for hours in quiet and solitude. Yet she had become addicted to something very different - the roar of vintage motorcycles, and with Courts, participated in sidecar races. The passenger, Schlosberg would maneuver her 100-pound body, stretching her limits, sometimes nearly touching the ground on turns..
An autopsy photograph showed her with a wan smile, even in death. She looked several years younger than her age. She dressed conservatively and was quiet and understated. But beneath her shirt was an eye-catching tattoo that she had designed herself and which took several months to etch into her skin. The tattoo was all symbolism and serpent; it started halfway down her back and crept over her left shoulder, ending finally with a snake's head that circled her bicep..
Lynda Bazin said her sister had been uneasy about turning 40 last year. Schlosberg was still hoping for a solid relationship that could possibly bring her a child. Three months later, she started going out with Courts, whom she had met at vintage races. Within months she had left her job in New Haven, Conn., and moved to Vermont, where Courts, a carpenter, had turned a room into an art studio..
Almost immediately they started planning their trip to Mexico, the same trip that Courts had made the previous year. Riding Courts's 20-year-old BMW touring bike, they left from Daytona Beach, Fla., where Courts had participated in a race. After visiting New Orleans and then heading south, they landed in Puerto Escondido, a main stop on the so-called ''Gringo Trail,'' a series of popular tourist destinations, many in Central America.
A successful test
In some ways, the trip was an unofficial test of their eight-month
relationship. It was successful. In Puerto Escondido, they read Michael
Crichton novels and drank cheap wine. Courts bought roses. ''I'm not a big
rose buyer,'' he said. ''But I loved her so much and she was so pretty and I
wanted to be the kind of guy who understands what it means to buy roses.''.
That Sunday, the two of them had a late breakfast with friends. ''Then we were going to take a walk,'' he said. ''But I didn't want to take a walk. My legs hurt. I'd been running the day before and I had about 20 pages to go in the book I was reading, and that was my excuse for not doing my favorite thing in the whole world. I didn't want to go for a walk with my favorite person on my favorite beach in the world. And she went away and she didn't come back.''.
By 3:30, Schlosberg had not returned, so Courts hopped on his bike and looked frantically for her throughout Puerto Escondido. He went first to the town hall, then to the municipal police, then to the Red Cross, then to the Port captain. One of his friends took him to the state attorney general's office. ''You're the one?'' said one of the officers. He was told that Schlosberg had drowned and that her body had been taken to the cemetery on the other side of town..
Courts walked to a lone building at the end of the cemetery. Schlosberg's body was lying on a concrete table. ''She looked content,'' he said. ''She looked beautiful but it was her, and that's the point.'' He identified the body and returned to the hotel..
When he went back to the cemetery it was closed, and darkness was slowly falling. He hopped the fence and went inside. He draped the dress over her, left the candles and the flowers. ''I was mad at her,'' he said, believing she had plunged into the savage surf. ''I couldn't believe she did it.'' The next day he was told Schlosberg had not only drowned, but been beaten and raped as well..
''It's a funny thing to go back to wish that Carol was only dead,'' he said. ''But that's what I was wishing.''
New Haven Register
Sunday, April 12, 1998
It's every parent's most excruciating nightmare. Far away, in some foreign land where you are powerless to help, your adventurous son or daughter is attacked and killed. By the time you hear about it, it's all over. ([New Haven Register] Editor's Note - Join a CT central discussion about safety while traveling.) In the case of former Yale University School of Art grad student and teacher Carol Jayne Schlosberg, tragedy struck in broad daylight March 29 on a popular beach in Puerto Escondido, a sunny Pacific surfing resort on the Oaxaca coast of southern Mexico. But it can happen anywhere. Police are still seeking whoever killed Schlosberg, 40, who lived in New Haven from 1990 to 1997 before moving to Chelsea, Vt. Family in Massachusetts and Arizona are still aching for answers as they cope with grief and prepare for her funeral on Saturday. Even if you didn't know Carol, if you have loved ones who travel and a heart that pumps red blood, it has to make you think . . .
How safe is foreign travel?
Seasoned travelers often tell you that Mexico, like many foreign countries,
"is no more dangerous than a trip to New York City." That's probably true.
But travel to Mexico or anywhere else is not without risks.
Each year more than 15 million U.S. citizens travel across the border into
Mexico - drawn by sunshine, shimmering beaches and a vibrant, multi-textured
culture. And each year, statistics for violent crime have risen, from 350 reported crimes per day in 1993, before the 1995 economic crisis, to more than 700 in 1997, according to Cox News Service. The increase worries Mexicans and Americans alike. With its heavy reliance on tourism and an economy that's already on edge, Mexico cannot afford to scare away its biggest, most loyal customers.
But travelers to Mexico aren't the only victims. "Here in Mexico, the crime knows no nationality," said Dan Dial, editor of The News, an English-language daily newspaper published in Mexico City. "Mexican citizens are just up in arms. It's probably the number one topic. It has bypassed the economy." There is a strong perception among Mexicans, particularly in Mexico City, that violent crime is on the rise, he said. "Everybody, regardless of nationality, has been victimized or knows someone who has been assaulted," said Dial, who was once robbed at knifepoint. "Safety-wise, traveling both in Mexico and in the United States, I would say it's about the same," said Dial, a native of the San Francisco Bay area who has lived in Mexico City for 12 years. "If you take a metropolitan area like Mexico City, with 18 million inhabitants, there is going to be crime." But over the past few years, "the hideous nature of violence associated with crime" seems to have increased, he said. In the last couple of months, "we've had two major marches, demonstrations, of citizens protesting the violence," Dial said.
Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, in his state-of-the-union address last September, said, "Citizens feel helpless in the face of crime and see the authorities as ineffective at combating it," according to the New York Times. "The sense of insecurity has extended throughout the population, bringing isolation and fomenting the tendency for people to take justice into their own hands."
The governor of the state of Oaxaca, responding to the outcry over Schlosberg's death in both Mexico and the U.S., last week pledged a strong effort and rapid progress to investigate the crime. Gov. Diodoro Carrasco called the murder "totally unusual" for Puerto Escondido and said a special prosecutor's group had drawn up sketches of possible suspects and had several leads on Schlosberg's killers, according to the Associated Press.
In Puerto Escondido, residents are split on how to handle the aftermath of Schlosberg's brutal rape and murder on Zicatela Beach, a world-renowned surfing ground that is home to what's known as "the Mexican Pipeline." "Some business people don't want word to get out," said Vicki Cole, a North Carolina native who has lived in Puerto for nine years. But "to me, it's like, 'Let's bring bad publicity here for a little while and let's get the beaches safe,' " she said. Cole has two friends who were raped on the beach. One of those incidents, four or five years ago, also occurred at mid-day.
In the wake of Schlosberg's murder, U.S. lawmakers have asked the State Department to post stronger Mexico travel advisories. That is not likely to happen. Although the State Department issues a lengthy report on conditions in Mexico, including crime, Mexico's problems pale compared to those of places like Iraq, Iran and Columbia, which the United States formally recommends tourists avoid.
"You have to consider that Mexico is the number one destination . . . and there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who live there either for working purposes or who are retired," said Maria Rudensky, spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. "The vast majority" of tourists "have a great vacation and come back fine." The situation in Mexico, she said, "is just not on par" with conditions in the 32 countries that are now under travel warnings. In places like Colombia and Pakistan, U.S. visitors are specifically targeted by terrorists or guerillas.
Still, according to the State Department, crime "continues to increase, particularly in urban areas" of Mexico, a country about three times the size of Texas. In 1996, Mexico City's crime rate shot up by nearly 40 percent. That high rate of crime continued in 1997, Rudensky said. But Schlosberg wasn't in the city. She was taking an afternoon walk along the beach in what, compared to glitzy Cancun or Acapulco, is a relatively quiet resort.
"There's nothing we can do to bring back Ms. Schlosberg, but we should do all we can to protect everyone else," said Will Keyser, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass. In an April 7 letter, Meehan and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., recommended that the U.S. "strengthen its warnings to American citizens . . . about the dangers that Americans face in that country and the precautions necessary to avoid becoming victims."
Noting that there have been six unsolved murders of Americans in recent months, they said the current advisory "contains no warning of the kind of vicious crime that killed Ms. Schlosberg." Rudensky said "this is the first case we know of, of an American killed in Puerto Escondido."
Schlosberg's brother-in-law, James Bazin of Carlisle, Mass., said tourists have reason to worry. "I think it's extremely dangerous," Bazin said. "You can't say that coldly based on statistics on a piece of paper, because seven murders or eight murders is nothing compared to murders in a big city in the U.S. But the problem is, the facts are suppressed." And as the family has learned, "If you get into trouble, you encounter an archaic system." Bazin, the family's point man with the outside world, said he also is disappointed with the assistance available from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, which left him feeling, "If you get stuck in the mud, good luck, buddy." "Put yourself in this family's place," he said, "and know that once this atrocity was committed, it took the U.S. Embassy four days to go down there to 'observe.' And once they did that, it took them six days to write a three-page report - something I do in an hour."
Detailed crime statistics for Americans in Mexico were not available, but according to the State Department, 29 U.S. citizens have been murdered in the Mexico City consular district in the past five years. The consular district includes 15 of the country's states or major city districts and a significant chunk of its population. More common are violent theft crimes. In particular, there have been problems with "frequent and violent" robberies in taxis.
The man heading the investigation into the killing of a former Yale
University artist along Mexico's southern Pacific coast said he believes
there were witnesses, but they have not come forward.
''No one wants to give any information,'' Jaime Colon, the deputy state
attorney general handling the investigation, said yesterday by telephone
from the Pacific resort of Puerto Escondido.
''In these parts, people are really closed,'' he said. ''There simply is a
lot of apathy when it comes to crime. People don't like to get involved.''
Carol Jayne Schlosberg, 40, who was born in Weston, was attacked around noon on March 29 while walking on Zicatela beach, about 35 miles east of Puerto Escondido, a popular surfer destination in the southern state of Oaxaca. ''I do think there are people who saw this,'' Colon said. ''But they are not helping us get the killers.''
Colon confirmed reports in the Globe that a port official received a call for help from a witness while the crime was in progress, but launched a search at sea rather than on the beach where the killing occurred. He said port officials then failed to contact police about the report.
Police at first labeled the death a simple drowning, but later disclosed Schlosberg also had been raped, bitten, and beaten. Immediately after the killing was reported, officials in Oaxaca said they had identified a suspect and were searching for another. Two weeks later, no one is in custody. The governor of Oaxaca, Diodoro Carrasco, said last week that a special prosecutor's group created to investigate the crime had drawn up sketches of possible suspects and had several leads on Schlosberg's killer or killers.
Timothy Courts of Chelsea, Vt., Schlosberg's live-in boyfriend and travel companion in Mexico, has joined her family in accusing Mexican officials of botching the investigation. They also have accused the US Embassy in Mexico City of failing to help. American officials in Mexico have referred all requests for comment to the US State Department in Washington.
Schlosberg, a well-known artist in New Haven, Conn., graduated from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly and earned a master's degree in fine arts from Yale in 1992. She then taught painting at the university until 1995. In October, she moved to Vermont to live with Courts.
The couple had traveled by motorcycle from Daytona Beach, Fla., to New Orleans and then to Puerto Escondido on a cross-continental vacation.
OAXACA, Mexico (AP) 6/9/98 - A magistrate in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Escondido on Friday questioned two men suspected of raping and killing an American woman from Vermont on a nearby beach. Officials at the Oaxaca state general attorney's office said the judge has until Tuesday to determine if there is enough evidence to hold the suspects for trial.
Cirilo Artemio Olivera, 35, and Rosendo Marquez Gutierrez, 31, were arrested Thursday on provisional charges of homicide and rape. Both are farm workers from Zicatela, a village near the beach where American artist Carol Jayne Schlosberg was attacked on March 29. Court officials refused to disclose details of the hearing until the proceeding ends.
Schlosberg, 40, a native of Weston, Mass., who had moved to Chelsea, Vt., was attacked while walking on Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido. Her body, found on the beach, showed several bite marks. Medical and dental experts confirmed that the marks matched the dental characteristics of one of the arrested men.
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