On the same day that María José Alvarado Muñoz was due to depart for London to represent Honduras in the Miss World 2014 pageant, her and her sister Sofía Trinidad's bodies were found in Cablotales close to Aguagua River in the country's north. Both women had been shot to death.
The sisters were reported missing six days earlier on Thursday, November 13, after they attended a birthday celebration for Sofía Trinidad's boyfriend, Plutarco Antonio Ruíz, who is accused of the murders.
“We can indeed confirm that these are the two young sisters who were buried in the area of Cablotales town in Santa Bárbara,” Criminal Investigation Director Leandro Osorio told Tegucigalpa-based Radio América. The bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition, after being buried for several days, he added.
Besides Ruíz, police also have a man named Aris Valentín Maldonado Mejía in custody. Authorities believe, however, that more individuals might be involved. Local media have reported that an argument between Ruíz and Sofía Trinidad may have led to the violence.
Osorio said that Ruíz led police to the place where the bodies were found. He also said that the alleged murder weapon was confiscated and that the vehicle presumably used to transport the bodies has been impounded.
The Miss World organization issued a statement from their chairwoman, Julia Morley, in reaction to the news:
To everyone around the world who has been touched by the awful news from Honduras this morning.
We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of María José Alvarado & Sofía Trinidad at this time of grief.
We are receiving messages of condolences and support from our Miss World family across the world, who all share our sadness at such a tragedy.
We will be holding a special service with all of the Miss World contestants on Sunday, where we will be honoring the lives of María José Alvarado and Sofía Trinidad, and say prayers for them and their family.
- With Love Julia Morley, Chairman Miss World Organisation.
Merly Eguigure, the coordinator for human rights organization Movimiento de Paz Visitación Padilla, remarked that many times men feel overshadowed when women stand out more than them and claimed that 98 percent of murders of women in Honduras go unpunished.
On Twitter, users have expressed their grief over the crime and posted images and information:
— Carlos N Agurcia (@CarlosNAgurcia) noviembre 19, 2014
María José Alvarado (1995-2014)
Today, Honduras misses your eyes.
— Rommel Rubi (@rommelrubi) noviembre 19, 2014
Rest in peace, María José Alvarado, Miss Honduras World 2014. God, protect Honduras and deliver us from all evil!
La tragedia de María José y Sofía Alvarado debe hacernos reaccionar. No más silencio ante la violencia. Sí A LA PAZ. pic.twitter.com/oJTC20chYE
— Miguel Calix (@chelecalix) noviembre 21, 2014
The tragedy of María José and Sofía Alvarado must make us react. No more silence in the face of violence. YES TO PEACE.
One user tweeted about ending every beauty pageant:
HONDURAS IS MOURNING for the irreparable loss of Miss Honduras World.
Now that we are on the topic, may beauty pageants be suspended for good. That is a worldwide shame.
According to data from the National Autonomous University of Honduras’ Observatory of Violence, 14.6 women were murdered in 2013 for every 100,000 residents. Honduras has the highest rate of violent female deaths in the world.