More on this story and yet another rather bizarre twist, Scottish authorities
are refusing to allow Julia Howard’s last wishes to be cremated, be
fulfilled, due to there being no official cause of death on her death
certificate, via the August 19th edition of the Edinburgh News. http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/latestnews/Family-fights-bureaucracy-after-78yearold.5566625.jp
Funeral arrangements have been made by the family of Julia Howard, the 78 year old Scottish grandmother who went missing 12 hours into her vacation at the Moon Palace Hotel and Resort in Cancun, Mexico on June 16, 2009 and was subsequently found dead after a six week search, in an isolated jungle location, reportedly, approximately, three miles from her last known location at the resort. Published reports indicate that final services for Ms. Howard will occur on Thursday, August 20 at 11 AM, at Mortonhall, Pentland Chapel, in South Edinburgh, Scotland. Presumably, State investigators from Quintana Roo, Mexico are continuing the investigation into Ms. Howard’s death and the events leading up to it in a case that has received wide spread publicity in both Mexico and the UK. The last reported operative theory from the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office was that Ms. Howard had accidentally wandered off resort, became disorientated and subsequently lost before succumbing to the harsh environment and natural elements. A theory that based on reports, the Howard family, including family members that were with her just before she disappeared, harshly disagree with.
Today, ITN, in a YouTube Video (below), partially, courtesy of the Attorney General’s Office of Quintana Roo, somewhat graphic in nature (editor’s warning), is reporting on the Julia Howard story and the now, considerable speculation from Howard’s family members, that given the condition and age of the Julia Howard that it would be difficult to comprehend how her remains were found upwards of three miles from her last known location, if she had walked there herself before succumbing to natural elements.
Por Esto newspaper in Cancun, Mexico is also reporting the story as somewhat incredulous to logic to presume the Scottish grandmother wandered that far into a dense tropical mangrove forest given the swamp like conditions and speculates that the body may have been “dumped” there. http://www.poresto.net/quintana-roo/46801-conjeturas-por-julia-howard
Julia Howard disappeared while on vacation with several family members from the secluded Moon Palace Resort and Hotel in Cancun, Mexico on June 16, 2009 and her remains were discovered on a local ranch on July 22, 2009 amongst the tropical mangrove forest, south of the resort. Authorities in Cancun are currently performing a forensic investigation as to the cause of death and the events leading up to it. The Quintana Roo Attorney General has dismissed murder as a probable cause in an earlier press conference.
Link to ITN Video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq9SCw3ThHg&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fdangers.cancuncasa.com%2Fblog_admin%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost.php%3Faction%3Dedit%26post%3D87&feature=player_embedded
The family of Julia Howard in the United Kingdom has spoken with the press syndicated via the BBC, and reported in press and online editions of the Scottish Sun and the Scotsman, regarding the reports in Cancun, Mexico that the remains of Julia Howard have been located amidst dense tropical mangrove forest foliage approximately three miles from where the Scottish grandmother was last seen while staying at the Moon Palace Resort and Hotel in Cancun. Julia Howard went missing on June 16, 2009 from the resort after telling family members she was going for a walk at the resort which she had visited multiple times in the past. The BBC also reports that Julia Brock, Ms. Howard’s daughter, told reporters that her mother adored the resort she was staying at.
In reported statements to the BBC, Ms. Howard’s distraught daughter, Julia Brock was quoted as stating “I’m dazed and it’s a total nightmare. We’re going out to (Cancun, Monday, to) formally identify the body”
“They said they think it is her but we are getting a huge amount of conflicting news. Although my brother thought it would be bad news, I was always kind of hoping she was still alive.”
”The rest of the family say at least we can bring her home now.”
”She never went out of the complex, she rarely even went further than five minutes from the pool.”
”To say she walked three miles and in the wrong direction is just ludicrous, she just wouldn’t, but we can’t prove it, but we know she was not capable of that.”
”We’ve got to try and find out what happened to her.”
”Everyone liked my mum, she was always cheery and smiling, nobody can believe it and we haven’t told the children yet, we just don’t know how to.”
In other news on the story, Quintana Roo newspaper Diario Respuesta reports that among the personal items found at the scene along with the remains were a pair of white flip flops, a gold ring, a silver watch, a Moon Palace Hotel room key and a prosthesis of Ms. Howard. Local officials in Cancun reportedly told reporters that should Ms. Howard’s family request a positive identification, they may request such via DNA testing through the State and Federal Attorney General’s offices respectively.
Diario Respuesta also reports that an investigative team sent to recover Ms. Howard’s remains and review the location became lost in the jungle terrain themselves when attempting their return from the remains site, and required rescue by elements of the Red Cross, Cancun Fire and Rescue Teams, and Security personnel from the Moon Palace Resort. One member of the original investigative team presumably suffered heat stroke and was removed from the scene via stretcher by rescuers.
Currently, in the view from afar, after following this story for two months, it appears the initial findings being reported support the Occam’s Razor approach of the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s office though many questions appear unanswered regarding the original disappearance and how Ms. Howard’s remains ended up almost three miles away in an isolated jungle location, south of the Moon Palace Resort. The Moon Palace itself located well off the widely popular Cancun Hotel Zone known as Isla Cancun, in a large compound like setting along the coast, on the mainland, on the road to Playa Del Carmen.
Which is exactly what Focus Radio in Quintana Roo says that some members, privately, of the investigative team are wondering as well, how Ms. Howard’s remains ended up in such a distant, remote, swamp like setting, though the head of the State Judicial Police stated as per Focus Radio that police investigators will wait on the final forensic results, rather than speculate on the cause of death currently. Focus Radio reports that it seems quite incredible that a single, elderly woman with a hip prosthesis managed to walk several miles in the muddy, swamp like terrain when investigators had such difficulty in doing so. http://www.enfoqueradio.com.mx/?p=29664
Editor’s Note/ Warning:
Below is the link to the Diario Respuesta story but we highly caution readers that the photograph collage provided by the newspaper of the scene, not uncommon for the Mexican Press in general, may be quite disturbing to many readers and certainly family members of Ms. Howard.
In a tragic story that begs more questions than answers at this point, government authorities in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico are confirming that the remains of a body found south of the Moon Palace Hotel and Resort in Cancun today, is that of Julia Howard, a missing Scottish grandmother, missing since June 16, 2009 from the resort. The Quintana Roo, State Attorney General, Carillo Rodriguez in a press conference earlier today explained that on the early evening of July 22, 2009, security personnel at a nearby ranch, Las Americas, nearby Petempich Bay in Puerto Morelos, discovered the body in an isolated, mangrove area on the ranch property, located, as per reports, some 5 kilometers south of the Moon Palace Resort, the last place Julia Howard was seen alive by family members. Of note, the 5 KM distance is approximately 3.10 miles from the last known location of Julia Howard and current press reports vary from 1-5 KM in distance. This report, today, is relying on information reported from the press conference at 11:30 AM today, referencing a prepared statement by the Attorney General of Quintana Roo and reported by Diario de Yucatan along with various other local reports including past coverage in this blog. ( Link Below)
A statement that he once again made today at the press conference.
The question remains, what made Julia Howard wander off into the dense, isolated underbrush of the tropical mangrove forest, while at a resort she had previously visited four times, and how did a woman whom it was previously reported in multiple press accounts, that had a difficulty walking long distances, manage to walk upwards of 3 plus miles, depending on currently reported accounts, in the tropical sun, before meeting her demise due to natural elements, and why didn’t earlier search teams, including searchers on horseback, trained search tracking dogs, helicopters and police officials find her sooner.
And, while we’re not inferring that foul play was at hand or incompetence of the search teams, was there something else, that lured Julia Howard into the tropical forest, setting off a series of events, ending in this tragedy.
We’ll likely never know…