3 bodies found in Mexico identified as 2 Australians, American killed in carjacking on surfing trip

May 6, 2024
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SAN DIEGO — The remains of three people found near the Mexican fishing port of Ensenada are those of missing surfers from Australia and the U.S. who were killed in an apparent carjacking, authorities said Sunday.

Family members made the identifications in person at the behest of Baja California state prosecutors, the state attorney general’s office said in a statement Sunday obtained by NBC San Diego. The bodies had been recovered from a remote well about 50 feet deep, authorities said.

The attorney general’s office said the bodies, found in La Bocana, south of Ensenada, are those of Jake and Callum Robinson, of Australia, and Jack Carter Rhoad, of the U.S.

At least two of the three were believed to be living in San Diego, authorities said, according to NBC San Diego.

The Ensenada medical examiner’s office said Friday the three victims were killed by gunshot wounds to the head.

At a news conference Sunday, prosecutors said that the motive was carjacking and that the assailants may have been particularly focused on the wheels of the pickup truck used by the missing surfers.

mexico surfer victims
From left, Jack Carter Rhoad, Jake Robinson and Callum Robinson.NBC News

The three were at a makeshift encampment during a fishing and surfing trip south of Ensenada, where the Baja coast rapidly becomes remote and filled with surprises for surfers seeking relatively rare rides.

Prosecutors said they found the trio’s encampment, including tents, spent gun shells, bloodstains and marks indicating bodies had been dragged.

Three people were being questioned in connection with the case, authorities said. Two of the three, a man and a woman, were held on methamphetamine-related allegations, they said, and the third was the subject of a kidnapping warrant.

Chief state prosecutor María Elena Andrade Ramírez said previously there may be evidence, including a victim’s cellphone in the possession of one of the three, that might connect the trio to the case.

A fourth body was discovered with the three in the well and may be part of an unrelated case, authorities said.

Surfers missing protest
A woman holds a surfboard reading “Beaches, Safety, Liberty, Peace” as people protest Sunday against insecurity after two Australians and an American surfer disappeared last week in Ensenada, Baja California state, Mexico.Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images

On Sunday, Andrade Ramírez met with the three men’s parents, her office said in its announcement identifying the bodies.

She reassured them, it said, that she was committed to ensuring those responsible face the full weight of the law.

The three men were considered missing on April 27 when they did not return to an Airbnb rental closer to the border, in Rosarito, Debra Robinson, the mother of Jake and Callum Robinson, said on Facebook.

Cartel and big-city street violence attributed to the drug trade in places like Tijuana has been seen as rare in the world of Baja tourism, which requires off-road-capable vehicles and the ability to start a campfire.

The peninsula’s Pacific coast has been a staple destination for U.S. surfers for 60 years. but the U.S. State Department has more recently urged Americans to avoid Baja travel as cartel violence has spread.





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