Monday, August 10, 2020
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ARGENTINA | 21-07-2020 00:13

Search for Facundo Castro: New witnesses, mobile phone signal and DNA tests

Search for missing 22-year-old, who was last seen on April 30 walking along Route 3 between Pedro Luro and Bahía Blanca when he was detained by Buenos Aires provincial police officers in Mayor Buratovich, advances.

The investigation into the disappearance of Facundo Astudillo Castro, 22, last seen 12 weeks ago in the southern reaches of Buenos Aires Province, has recently advanced with the discovery of a mobile telephone connection and bloodstains in two police patrol cars with the latter being submitted to DNA testing with the youth’s mother. New witnesses are also giving testimony.

On April 30, Castro was walking along Route 3 between Pedro Luro and Bahía Blanca when he was detained by Buenos Aires provincial police officers in Mayor Buratovich for violating quarantine, the last sure thing in this investigation.

In a communiqué to start the week, Bahía Blanca Federal Prosecutor Santiago Ulpiano Martínez, announced that he would be picking up the manhunt again, authorising the use of police dogs trained in tracing persons. Last week’s operations turned up nothing new. The search is centred around the locality of Teniente Origone in the direction of both Mayor Buratovich, where Facundo was last seen alive, and Pedro Luro, where he lived with his mother.

The prosecutor said that on the basis of testimony incorporated into the file, the youth could have passed through or still be in the Chubut city of Puerto Madryn, 660 kilometres south of Bahía Blanca. In order to confirm or rule out this clue, the Viedma delegation of the Federal Police and the North Argentine Sea division of the Coast Guard have commenced "fieldwork in this zone." 

The latest advances in the investigation have been supplied by various witnesses, some of whom have kept their identity in reserve, for example, a woman whose tips on July 14 led to a swoop in the locality of General Cerri, 10 kilometres outside the Bahía Blanca city access. Much of this testimony was received via the Zoom platform by both federal prosecutors and the Prosecutor’s Office for Institutional Violence (Procuraduría de Violencia Institucional or Procuvin) under Héctor Heim.

"In every case,” indicated the prosecutors, “and with the aim of safeguarding those persons supplying information, those statements are held in reserve and the information added to the file."

Suspicions

The lawyer of Facundo Astudillo Castro’s family believes that the youth "was murdered and his body hidden.”

As for genetic evidence, DNA samples have been taken from his mother to compare them with bloodstains found in the two police cars detaining the youth – the Chevrolet Corsa Classic driven by Lieutenant Siomara Ayelén Flores and the Toyota Hilux van driven by First Lieutenant Alberto González. According to information, the comparative DNA study will be done at the Federal Police chemical lab together with other complementary tests "permitting preliminary conclusions."

More interesting evidence comes from the logbook of the Mayor Buratovich precinct, which is now being studied by the forensic experts of the Bahía Blanca Federal Police’s Gabinete Científico. The main aim lies in determining if the annotations corresponding to April 30 "include changes, scratches, erasures, missing pages or any other sign permitting supposition of an alteration of content."

The prosecutor has recently received details of the Google activities and social networks in the missing youth’s accounts, as well as a communications report supplied by the companies Telecom, IPLAN, Movistar, Claro and Teléfonica.

Clues

At the same the Federal Police division for fugitives and missing persons has presented a report with the data obtained from "the certified document of three DVDs" containing the results from the mobile telephone used by Daiana González, Facundo’s former girl-friend whom he was supposedly going to visit before his disappearance.

"As a relevant detail, the password to Astudillo Castro’s Gmail has come up as required by the federal judge authorising entry into his account,” the prosecutor’s office has pointed out. 

The last certain clue of Facundo dates back to April 30 when he was detained in Mayor Buratovich for "violating compulsory isolation.” The proof is documented by an image of the youth with his back to the camera facing a Toyota Hilux N° 22,788 patrol car driven by First Lieutenant Alberto González then on duty at the Teniente Origone checkpoint.

Coast Guard experts have concluded that the person captured in the photograph has "a height of around 1.60 metres (five foot four) as attributed to Facundo Astudillo Castro" and that it is "possible to establish that his clothing is similar in colouring and design, from which it may be inferred that it is the same. ​

Leonardo Nieva

Leonardo Nieva

Editor de Policiales de Diario Perfil.

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