Honduras' Miss World contestant found murdered

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 19, 2014 9:05 AM

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A Honduran beauty queen has been found murdered just days before she was due to compete in the Miss World pageant in London, police said on Wednesday.

The bodies of Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia were found buried near a river in the mountainous region of Santa Barbara, about 180 km (110 miles) from the capital Tegucigalpa, said Leandro Osorio, head of the criminal investigation unit.

Alvarado had been due to take part in the Miss World events that start on Thursday and culminate in the final in London on Dec. 14.

She and her sister had been missing since Thursday, when they were seen leaving a party in a car without a license plate.

"I can confirm that the Alvarado sisters were found ... We also have the murder weapon and the vehicle in which they were transported to the site where they were buried," Osorio told local television.

Interior Minister Arturo Corrales told local media that Plutarco Ruiz, the boyfriend of the beauty queen's sister, was responsible for the crime.

Honduras is the world's most violent country with a murder rate above 90 people per 100,000, about double the rate of its closest peers Venezuela, Belize and El Salvador.

Mexico's drug cartels have expanded into Honduras in recent years, making the impoverished Central American nation a major thoroughfare for trafficking South America cocaine to the United States and driving a surge in violence.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia Writing by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Kieran Murray and W Simon)