She was a young singer who didn't fear traveling alone. She chose Costa Rica, a country full of natural beauty, as her first solo destination, hoping to find paradise on Earth. But her dreams were brutally dashed.
Maria Trinidad Matus, a 25-year-old Mexican, was murdered on the night of August 5. The reason? For many: 'she was traveling alone.'
She studied classical music composition and jazz singing. Her first album was just coming out and she had already released two singles under her artistic name 'Marmaid.' Just before some concerts, she booked in Mexico City, she traveled by herself to Costa Rica, relying on its good reputation for adventures.
Investigations say that Maria and an English friend she met on the road were assaulted and abused by at least two men on the Santa Teresa de Cobano beach. The men then tried to drown their victims in the sea, but the English girl managed to escape. When she returned with help, it was too late.
Locals and other tourists caught one suspect, Esquivel Cerdas, while another suspect, Mendoza Benavides, was caught hours later. Reports say Esquivel will spend three months in pre-trial detention but Mendoza was freed hours later.
On Thursday, prosecutors announced that a 44-year-old man named Sancho Rodriguez was arrested while trying to flee, having been recognized by two witnesses as one of the murderers, and placed in pre-trial detention.
The case resonates in Latin America and beyond, sparking cries of 'Ni una menos' (Not one less) in a region with a high rate of femicides.
On August 9, crowds dressed in white gathered on the same beach Matus was murdered to demand an end to gender violence and femicides, honoring the Mexican singer and also Maria Arantzazu Gutierrez, a Spanish tourist murdered on Barra de Tortuguero beach.
One suspect in Arantzazu's murder was detained but due to lack of evidence, he was placed in the custody of migration authorities, because he is a Nicaraguan citizen.
"Do you know what's the first thing I felt when I found out she had been assaulted, raped and murdered on Sunday?" wrote Elena Varade, a young woman who met Matus while traveling. "I felt guilt for not warning her that Costa Rica had turned into a dangerous country, especially for women."