Two days after little Ignacio’s birthday, for the first time in a long time, his mother, Rebeca, was able to buy him a toy. Months later, when she met a relative in the plaza, she told her that they could finally drink Coca Cola. The absence of her husband—the reason why they could now achieve all this—Rebeca explained it in two ways. In September 2021, when the nephew asked about him and reported his absence, she told the police that they had not seen him since December 2019, when Mariano (54 years old) told her that he had met another person through Facebook and that he would go with her.
In 2022, Mariano’s sister reported to the police that Rebeca had changed the version. At that time, she told him that he had gone to Brazil with a “stunning” woman and another man. At that moment, she stressed to him to forget about her brother.
Until December 2019, Mariano and Rebeca lived as a couple in a humble house in a town 19 kilometers from Paysandú. They did so for 16 years, during which time he dedicated himself to masonry and she to other construction jobs. In that span, they had four children, ranging in age from 16 to two. But between the end of 2019 and the middle of 2022, he seemed to have vanished. His absence was not noticed in his work, since he had not worked for some time due to a serious spinal injury that had earned him a disability pension. The rest of his relatives did not live in the town and did not report his disappearance until the last quarter of 2021.
Despite that, the disability pension continued to be collected all that time. Rebeca was the one who went, and with the name of her partner, she withdrew the money every month. When the Banco de Previsión Social (BPS) detected it, he filed a criminal complaint for fraud against her. The complaint was filed on July 8, 2022, as stated in the court ruling to which she agreed. The Observer.
The complaint for fraud and the constant claims of Mariano’s family led to a raid that took place in the woman’s house on August 16 of that year. On top of her closet were two things that compromised her: his debit card and a revolver without her handles. A neighbor whom the police consulted finally unearthed the mystery: a couple of years ago, at the bottom of Rebeca’s land there had been a work, an ornamental stone pool was built and a large plant was placed.
“He’s buried there,” she told, without escape, before the prosecution.
Minutes later, the police removed a skeleton in its underwear wrapped in a purple sheet. Rebeca was indicted in the Paysandú court for a very especially aggravated crime of homicide in a real reiteration regime with repeated crimes of fraud. Although the prosecutor Carlos Motta requested that she be detained preventively while the investigation continued, the judge in the case ordered house arrest. The decision was ratified by the 1st Round Court of Appeals in September of this year.
But Rebeca’s decision to beat and shoot her partner to death, her lawyer said, was to defend her family. In her plea for the court to uphold the decision to leave her in house arrest, she asked that her case be analyzed from a gender perspective.
“There was a family that was violated, humiliated, where specifically the defendant suffered acute, prolonged, intense family violence. Compatible with torture”, argued Josefa Rodríguez. She stated that she “was threatened by her partner that if she denounced, they would kill one of her children.” She leaves the police station, not the cemetery, she repeated.
“He would throw the plate of food at them, throw objects at them, wake her up at dawn, tease her and take her to the bathroom to wake her up with cold water or force her to read the Bible,” quotes the court ruling on the statements of the witnesses.
A health problem that Mariela, one of her daughters, had on her skin, sealed the ordeal that she later denounced. By carrying that condition, Mariano insisted that she was not his daughter. And for this reason —she, her mother and her sisters affirm— from April 2019, when Mariela was 13 years old, he began to sexually abuse her. He said he could do it because she wasn’t her daughter.
Mariela was encouraged to tell her mother the day before the crime, on December 6, 2019. Rebeca got up without saying a word, although they later told the eldest daughter, Julia. That night, when Mariano was resting in another room, Rebeca said that it was going to end. Julia declared that the fear was latent, because Mariano had asked Rebeca, in front of both daughters, about motels in Paysandú to stay during an upcoming trip that he planned to take alone with Mariela.
In the morning, Mariela and Julia heard their father muttering their mother’s name from the room. Rebeca left the room and asked the four brothers to please all leave the house. There, they all went to buy Ignacio a gift to replace the one that Mariano had beaten to death. By then, Mariano was already dead, the Prosecutor’s Office reconstructs.
His partner had beaten him to death with an iron that they used to remove a stove and then shot him to death with his automatic firing pistol. The weapon was never found, since according to Rebeca she herself cut it with a grinder and got rid of the pieces.
Upon returning, the daughters helped their mother dig the well on the ground and at night, wrapped in the purple sheet, they sprinkled it with lime so that it would not give off an odor and they buried it. They went on with his life and for almost three years they didn’t tell anyone what had happened.
Rebeca’s version disagrees in some details with that of Julia and Mariela. She testified that on December 7, when she returned from the store, she saw Mariano abusing his daughter and as a result, practically out of violent emotion, she killed him.
“After committing the act, he desperately thought about what to do, whether or not to go to the police, even talking to his daughters. But faced with the situation that all her children were minors and were going to be adrift and separated, she decided to do what he did. Since the oldest turned 18 a few days ago, now she can take off that backpack she was carrying ”, says the second instance interlocutory sentence
Prosecutor Motta had asked that she be pretrially imprisoned for six months and contradicted the point of her defense, that it was not a homicide. “Fear or fear does not justify resorting to the mechanisms used by the accused to neutralize them,” he said. In turn, he stressed that “if a case of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse is proven, this would act as a mitigation” of the penalty. He also emphasized that she “just accepted the facts when she had no choice.”
All names used in this note are fictitious.