Remains of missing Mexican journalist found six weeks after his abduction from Michoacán

Ed. note: This story has been updated to include a reaction from Salvador Adame Pardo's family.

The State Attorney General’s Office of Michoacán announced on June 26 that the remains of missing journalist Salvador Adame Pardo have been found on an empty field along a highway between Nueva Italia and Lombardía. However, Adame Pardo's family has criticized the investigation into the case and said they may submit the remains to an independent laboratory for a second DNA analysis, Proceso reported.

Adame Pardo, journalist and owner of channel 6 TV in Múgica, was kidnapped in Nueva Italia, Michoacán on May 18. The Attorney General, José Martín Godoy Castro, said Adame Pardo was killed and his body was subsequently burned by members of organized crime, Quadratin reported.

Daniel Rubio Ruiz, who grew up in the same house as Adame Pardo, was arrested June 21 in connection with a 2015 kidnapping. According to Godoy Castro, during his interview, Rubio Ruiz (also known as El Cabezas) said that while trying to find Adame Pardo following his kidnapping, he learned that a criminal leader in the region called El Chano Peña ordered his abduction and murder.

Godoy Castro said the probable motive was a personal problem between El Chano and Adame Pardo. He said that was based on messages between the two that are under investigation.

At the time of Adame Pardo’s kidnapping, family members reported that the journalist had received anonymous threats because of his work. He was a known critic of the work of the mayor of Múgica and the criminal scene in the area.

Frida Urtiz Martínez, Adame Pardo’s wife and co-owner of channel 6 TV, had a heart attack while investigating his disappearance.

In late May, Urtiz Martínez and some 100 journalists presented a collective criminal complaint for Adame Pardo’s kidnapping before the Specialized Unit to Combat Kidnapping of the State Attorney General’s Office, Animal Político reported.

The complaint urged authorities to investigate the disappearance from the viewpoint of Adame Pardo as a journalist. The complaint also mentioned that Adame Pardo and Urtiz Martínez were beaten by Municipal Police while covering a citizen takeover of the mayor’s office in Múgica in 2016, the news site added.

During a June 27 press conference, Adame Pardo's daughter Frida Navidad Adame Urtis said the investigation into her father's disappearance has been plagued with inconsistencies and that the family may request a new DNA test of the remains in a laboratory independent from the state, according to Proceso. She also denied that her father had any links to members of organized crime and requested that the federal attorney general's office take on the case.

"We are outraged at how the delicate events for the family were made public, as well as the terrible insistence on the part of the authorities to indicate that what happened to my father was for personal and non-journalistic matters, without having lines of investigation that were exhausted, nor hard evidence," the daughter said, according to El Universal.

El Universal said communicators in Michoacán condemned the murder and asked for a protection mechanism to be enacted for Adame Pardo's family. They urged authorities to exhaust all lines of investigation, particularly in relation to Adame Pardo's work as a journalist.

Adame Pardo’s kidnapping happened the same week that journalist Javier Valdez was killed in Sinaloa and Jonathan Rodríguez was fatally shot in Jalisco. Rodríguez’s mother and director of information at the weekly El Costeño, Sonia Córdova, was also shot, but survived.


*César López Linares assisted with this report.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.