Violence against women and members of the LGBTQIA+ continues throughout Latin America and the rate is startling even with just a month into the new year. Recently, a lesbian couple from Texas was found dismembered and killed in the city of Juarez, Mexico. On January 16, the bodies of Julissa Ramírez, 28, and Nohemí Medina Martínez, 28, were found in trash bags along the Juárez-El Porvenir highway, roughly 17 miles apart. Authorities believe they were tortured and shot. Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the murders, which the government of Chihuahua is calling femicide. Both women were originally from Juarez and currently living in El Paso, Texas.
Julissa and Nohemí were married on July 28, 2021 and shared three children, according to information on Noemi’s Facebook account. Police believe they were contacted by the suspects, who were identified as, Jaqueline Isela CR and David R, on January 15, and brought to a residence in San Isidro, which is near the U.S. border. At some point after that, the couple was killed, their bodies were cut up and put in multiple trash bags that were scattered along the highway. Authorities believe the women were in Juarez visiting family.
According to PEOPLE, local police obtained a search warrant for the home they believe the women were taken to, and arrested the 24-year-old and 25-year-old suspects at that time. A statement from the Chihuahua attorney general, Roberto Javier Fierro Duarte, indicates that police found, “sufficient evidence that the double crime was committed.”
“In this case, the investigation lines are linked to the economic activity that both victims carried out and with the people they related to in that environment,” authorities told The Washington Post, indicating that the they did not believe the murders to be hate crimes.
However, a Mexican LGBTQ+ advocacy group does not believe that to be the case. “They were brutally murdered in Ciudad Juarez this weekend. The characteristics of the crime confirm that it was a hate crime, which cannot go unpunished,” Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua, posted on Facebook, calling for accountability from local authorities.
The day after officials believe Julissa and Nohemí were killed, law enforcement reportedly found more bags containing body parts of two other unidentified women, not far from where Julissa and Nohemí’s bodies were found. Authorities have not yet indicated whether they four murders were related. According to Mexican newspaper, El Diario, there were nine known cases of femicide in Juarez between January 1 and January 17, 2022, which amounts to one woman killed every 45 hours.
The suspects were expected in court for a hearing which was to be open to the public, on January 28. It is unclear whether Julissa and Nohemí are U.S. citizens, but U.S. authorities are not currently involved in the investigation.