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Missing Elementary School Teacher’s Body Found In Mexico, Boyfriend In Custody
"Ms. Morales was full of joy and loved her students,” Benefield Elementary School principal Shondia Gipson-Stevens said of first grade teacher Alexandra Morales.
The body of a first grade teacher who vanished after a concert near Guadalajara, Mexico was recovered from a rental car hundreds of miles away, according to reports.
Fidel Barragán, 28, was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in connection to the slaying of Alexandra Morales, 24, Telemundo Atlanta, reported. Her body was found inside a rental car in Puebla on Tuesday, her uncle told the station. A motive or cause of death wasn't immediately released by officials.
Morales’ family confirmed during an interview with the outlet that Barragán and Morales’ had been dating.
The Atlanta elementary school teacher had been on personal leave from work, and was reported missing by her family, the Daily Beast reported. Prior to her disappearance, she was believed to have attended a concert at Telmex arena in the Mexican city of Zapopan, Morales’ friends said. Her family was unable to reach her by phone after the show.
“I knew she was going to a concert because she had been posting about it,” Morales’ friend Yessica Ortero told NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta. “I don’t know, I’m still in shock. You know, it’s sad.”
Ortero, a former classmate of Morales’, described her as a “super sweet girl.”
“She was the first friend I ever made at school,” Ortero recalled.
Morales taught first grade at Benefield Elementary School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Gwinnett County School District officials confirmed news of the 24-year-old’s death this week.
“Ms. Morales was full of joy and loved her students,” Benefield Elementary School principal Shondia Gipson-Stevens said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “She has touched so many lives. She has touched so many lives — both students and staff — and we will miss her greatly.”
The elementary school first hired Morales in 2019. Gipson-Stevens said school counselors have been made available to staff and students, if needed.
“We know this loss touches many in our school community and we want to support our student and staff members during this difficult time,” the school’s statement added. “In this difficult time, we need to provide care and comfort each other... please keep Ms. Morales’ family and our school family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The elementary school had previously sent out a letter to parents informing them of Morales’ disappearance, prior to Mexican authorities finding her remains.
"We were all very hopeful that they would find her and she would be returning safely but that was not the case," Sloan Roach, a spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week.
News of Morales’ sudden death has also deeply shocked parents and their children who knew the young educator.
“Before I could get the words out, my daughter was crying already,” parent Maria Palacios told CBS46. “I had to respond, explaining what it means to not come back, that Ms. Morales was not coming back.”
Palacios said her 6-year-old daughter attends Benefield Elementary.
“She was the first teacher she identified with personally, and it was the first teacher my daughter said, ‘I want to be a teacher, like Ms. Morales,’” Palacios added.
No further information was immediately available from Mexican authorities this week.
Barragan was scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in court on Friday, according to the Daily Beast.