The governor of a northern Mexico state where a North Carolina man was slain last month said the alleged perpetrator will pay dearly for the crime.
Chihuahua state Gov. Javier Corral said Sunday that Patrick Braxton-Andrew is believed to have been killed by a drug trafficker named Jose Noriel Portillo Gil, alias “The Crooked,” while walking in the Copper Canyons. Corral said federal police are on the hunt for Portillo Gil, who is part of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Corral said the 34-year-old Spanish teacher’s body had been buried, and then exhumed and left in the open by his assailants. More than a hundred police and volunteers combed the area for clues after Braxton-Andrew disappeared on Oct. 28.
"I can say that it was a cowardly and brutal murder, of a totally innocent person, a clean man whose misfortune was to cross his walk with this criminal," Corral said in a Spanish-language statement posted to Facebook last week.
It also dismissed earlier claims that Braxton-Andrew had been seeking out marijuana, and calling them "absolutely false."
Corral also said Sunday that sharing the news with the family broke his heart.
Braxton-Andrew, an avid photographer, reportedly left his hotel to take a walk on the afternoon of October 28 and never returned.
The family of the North Carolina teacher had been desperately searching for clues to his whereabouts ever since he disappeared.
On Thursday, the family announced his death with "great sadness" through a Facebook page set up to find the missing teacher that was run by friends and family. They later confirmed that Braxton-Andrew's body had been found and would be returned home.
"Patrick died doing what he loved — traveling and meeting people," his family wrote. "We will always remember Patrick and his joy of life."
Braxton-Andrew had been a Spanish teacher at the private Woodlawn School in Mooresville, North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Classes and athletic activities at the school were canceled on Friday to honor the teacher.
"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved teacher, community member, and friend," the school said on its Facebook page.
Members of Braxton-Andrew's family said they plan to hold a celebration of his life after his body is returned to the United States.
“We are very, very proud of Patrick, and of the way he lived. He did what he wanted to do. He followed his path,” his mother, Jean Braxton, told the Observer.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.
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