The family of a 16-year-old American citizen who died under highly suspicious circumstances in Paraguay are appealing to the FBI to help with the investigation amid fears that the teenage boy’s friends have cooperation in an alleged cover-up of a brutal rape and murder.
According to the Daily Beast, Alex Villamayor, 16, was visiting the family ranch of a friend on the night of his mysterious, violent death. Alex’s father reportedly became concerned about his son after learning that his friend René Hofstetter’s parents were not at the ranch in the remote town of Obligado as he expected them to be. It was just Alex, René, 18, Alain Jacks Díaz de Bedoya, 16, and a ranch hand on the property, where Alex had gone for Spring Break in lieu of a more expensive class trip to Cancun.
“I thought it would be good for him to go to the ranch and have some fun,” Alex’s mother Puning Luk told the the Daily Beast.
The teenagers were reportedly drinking mushroom tea on the night of June 27, 2015, when Alex’s phone call to his father Luis got cut off. During the call, Luis had offered to drive out there and pick Alex up, but his son said he was fine. Luis Villamayor, formerly a Paraguayan congressman, tried to call back, but couldn’t reach Alex.
But the next morning, René called Luis with the shocking, heartbreaking news that Alex was dead — claiming that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Based on the witness account and the fact that Alex was found with a gun in his hand, the teen’s death was initially considered a suicide, though Alex — who was planning to move to Maryland to attend Montgomery College, where his brother was also attending school — showed no signs whatsoever of being depressed or suicidal.
“Imagine a happy person you know with a good, happy life. You can’t process the idea of a suicide or a homicide,” Alex’s schoolmate and friend Renato Rolon told the Daily Beast.
But early on, there were compelling signs that Alex was indeed killed — and not by his own hand.
Andy Fernandez is a Villamayor family friend and an attorney who first identified Alex, and he is now on the family’s legal team. Fernandez told the Daily Beast that Alex, who was shot in the right side of his head, was found with the gun in his left hand. And he was also found wearing someone else’s clothes — clothes that were found to have no gun residue on them. Neither did Alex’s skin.
“That’s proof he didn’t kill himself,” said Fernandez. “If he killed himself, it would be everywhere. In his hair, on his skin.”
The evidence suggested that the scene was staged and that someone had cleaned Alex’s body and put him in new clothes. Indeed, the ranch hand who was at the farmhouse that night, Matthias Wilbs, eventually admitted to tampering with the crime scene and placing a different gun in Alex’s hand.
But why would someone kill Alex? And how did it all unfold? Over two years later, the boy’s family is still seeking answers and desperately trying to get help from U.S. authorities, as the investigation in Paraguay has raised more questions than it has answered.
An initial autopsy report did not mention any evidence of a sexual assault, but a subsequent examination found that Alex’s body showed evidence of anal penetration, and semen was found in his rectum. But the semen was his own.
“There’s no record in this world that shows someone had [his own] semen in his own body,” Fernandez told the Daily Beast.
Though there is no evidence yet that he was at the scene, René ‘s father has emerged as a key person of interest. Phone records show that his son and the ranch hand, Matthias Wilbs, made a total of over 50 calls to him in the early hours of the morning. But he’s now in hiding while Wilbs is awaiting trial. René is also in custody, after he briefly fled to Germany, according to the Daily Beast.
Alex’s aunt Kim Luk, who Alex intended to live with when he started college, has been working with Maryland lawmakers to get the FBI involved in the investigation — but so far, Paraguayan authorities have declined the FBI’s offers for assistance.
“More people have to understand what happens to you when you travel overseas,” Kim Luk told the Daily Beast.
She said she hopes to change the current laws so that foreign governments are required to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies when an American citizen is killed on foreign soil.
“We’re in an administration right now that is seeking Americans first. This is a perfect time for us to change laws.”
Feature image: Facebook/Alex Villamayor (L)and his father Luis