Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Dragging-death victim identified

AP , DENVER, COLORADO

A woman dragged to her death behind a vehicle was identified on Thursday as a mother of three from the Mexican state of Guerrero, the Mexican consul general said.

Luz Maria Franco-Fierros, 49, was identified through fingerprints, Consul General Juan Marcos Gutierrez Gonzalez said. Franco-Fierros was from the city of Chilpancingo, the capitol of Guerrero.

Her battered, disfigured body was discovered early on Monday along a subdivision road north of Castle Rock, about 32km south of Denver. Investigators say Franco-Fierros had been dragged behind a vehicle for more than a 1.6km, leaving a bloody trail. Preliminary autopsy results said she suffered fatal head injuries and strangled as she was dragged.

Jose Luis Rubi-Nava, 36, was being held without bail on a charge of first-degree murder.

Spokeswomen for the district attorney, the Douglas County sheriff and the coroner declined to comment on Thursday. Rubi-Nava's public defender, Kathleen McGuire, did not return a phone calls.

A judge sealed court documents and said he would consider McGuire's request for a gag order.

In his only public statement since the arrest, Sheriff Dave Weaver did not say how the arrest was made or how the few known clues fit into the case.

Among those clues is a widely circulated photo found somewhere near the crime scene showing Rubi-Nava standing beside an unidentified woman, his right arm resting on her shoulder. Weaver said on Wednesday he did not know if the woman in the photo is the victim.

Cesar Gustavo Garcia Flores, 20, a roommate of Franco-Fierros and Rubi-Nava, told the Rocky Mountain News that the woman in the photograph was Rubi-Nava's wife in Mexico.

Flores told the paper that the couple argued at times and there were instances of domestic violence, with Franco-Fierros at one point telling Rubi-Nava: "Get out of here. Either you're going to kill me or I'm going to kill you."

A close friend of Franco-Fierros who lives in the same apartment complex, Zulma Pulgarin, 31, told the paper Franco-Fierros was happy with Rubi-Nava despite her knowledge that he had a wife and children in Mexico.

Immigration and customs officials said they believe Rubi-Nava is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

Denver police confirmed on Thursday they arrested Rubi-Nava on a traffic charge in April but released him.

Police spokeswoman Virginia Quinones said the police suspect Rubi-Nava's identification was forged, but said verification was not a police responsibility.

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