MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican priest missing since Jan. 3 was found dead Thursday in northern Mexico, government and Roman Catholic authorities in northern Mexico reported.
The Saltillo Diocese in Coahuila state said in a statement that it was informed by authorities about the discovery of the body of Rev. Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes. The diocese did not release any other information.
"Father Joaquin was someone who looked for perfection in everything he did; the desire to always innovate in his work, has been reflected in love by the faithful, including during the past 10 days," the diocese said.
The Coahuila state Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that the body was found in the town of Parras de Fuente, while the priest's car was discovered in Santa Catarina, in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon. An autopsy was being performed to determine the cause of death.
Hernandez was supposed to take a short vacation beginning Jan. 3. But a close friend was unable to reach him by phone that day. Early that same morning, a neighbor saw two young men take Hernandez's car, but did not see the priest with them.
The friend went to the priest's residence at the church and found his room a mess. Later he found the priest's packed suitcase and eyeglasses.
Several Roman Catholic priests have been attacked in Mexico recently. Three priests were abducted in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz in late 2016; one was found alive, and two were found shot to death. Another priest was killed in the western state of Michoacan in September.
At least 31 priests have been slain in Mexico since 2006.