MEXICO CITY — Three young American girls and their Mexican mother were shot to death and dumped in a cornfield outside Mexico's western city of Guadalajara, officials said Thursday, and police said they were seeking the father for questioning.
The bodies were found early Wednesday with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. The four had been returning from a trip to the beach. Authorities found dozens of 9-millimeter shell casings next to towels, empty soft drink bottles and pairs of sandals. All four victims were wearing swimsuits.
The children were identified as Sharon Denise Mar, 13, Kelsey Idette Mar, 10, and Nerissa Aileen Mar, 9, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Josie Shumake said. All three were U.S. citizens. The mother, Maria A. Caraveo, was a permanent legal resident of the United States, Shumake said.
Authorities were searching Thursday for Benito Martin Mar, a Mexican national who lives with the family in Brownsville, Texas, said Lino Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Guadalajara police.
According to Gonzalez, relatives said Caraveo and her children often vacationed in Mexico.
"The circumstances surrounding the father of this family are very strange," Gonzalez said. "He is not a suspect, but everyone in the world would like to know where he is."
Gonzalez said relatives told Mexican police that Mar was wanted in Texas on charges of auto theft and drug trafficking. He said Mexican authorities have not confirmed that report. Texas authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
A Honda sedan found with the victims had been reported stolen from a parking garage in Guadalajara just moments before police discovered the bodies. Authorities were not sure whether the car belonged to the family.
Police said they believe that the victims were shot hours before their bodies were found and that the killer or killers reported the car stolen. Gonzalez said police found $5,500 in the car's trunk and have ruled out robbery as a motive.