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Forensic tests show Spanish teacher Laura Luelmo died within eight hours of being attacked

Additional analyses refute early theories that her death could have occurred up to two days after being assaulted by her neighbor in Huelva

Victim Laura Luelmo.
Victim Laura Luelmo.

Additional forensic tests conducted on the body of Laura Luelmo, a 26-year-old teacher who was murdered in El Campillo (Huelva) last month, have established that she died of her injuries within the first eight hours of being attacked.

“The studies carried out on the tissues are very precise, and show that there was hardly any chance of survival. She died almost immediately, certainly within eight hours of being attacked,” indicate sources close to the investigation.

The conclusion supports the Civil Guard’s theory that Montoya  killed Luelmo on the same day of her disappearance

The victim, who had just moved to the area from northern Spain to take up a teaching position, was reported missing on the evening of Wednesday, December 12, when she failed to show up for work or to return calls.

Her body was found half-naked with evident signs of violence in a field located five kilometers outside of El Campillo on December 17. Bernardo Montoya, 50, a neighbor of Luelmo’s, is currently in police custody and has confessed to the killing.

The young woman had noticed Montoya watching her, and told her boyfriend about it in a telephone conversation: “I don’t like the way he’s staring at me.” Montoya had been the prime suspect since the beginning due to his long criminal record that includes stabbing an elderly lady to death in 1995 to stop her from testifying against him in a robbery case.

Conclusive tests

The new conclusions support the Civil Guard’s theory that Montoya kidnapped and killed Luelmo on the same day, and corrects preliminary autopsy results that gave a margin of up to two days to date her death. Officers believe that Montoya, who inflicted “deadly wounds” – brutal blows to the head against the ground – disposed of Luelmo’s body quickly, putting it in the trunk of his car and dumping it in a deserted spot in the countryside.

The house where Bernardo Montoya (inset) allegedly attacked Laura Luelmo.
The house where Bernardo Montoya (inset) allegedly attacked Laura Luelmo. EFE

The Civil Guard had stated in a press conference that Luelmo died on the same day her attacker struck her “inside his house” and raped her “in the field,” after transporting her body in the trunk of his car wrapped in a blanket.

The preliminary results of the autopsy, conducted a few hours after a search volunteer discovered the body on December 17, determined that “Laura Luelmo died sometime between December 14 and 15 and suffered sexual abuse.” The new tests place her death on the same day of her disappearance, December 12.

The latest examination of tissues obtained from the body reveal that “there was hardly any chance of survival, since the tissues affected by the injuries had hardly evolved, meaning that that the body hardly had any time at all to repair the serious hemorrhagic wounds it had sustained,” explain sources close to the investigation. Forensic experts explain that “any organism naturally tends to regenerate and heal when it is alive.”

These results shutter the controversy created between some forensic scientists and the Civil Guard regarding their different theories on the time of death. The law enforcement officers always held that Montoya, the self-confessed murderer, inflicted deadly wounds on his victim inside his own house, located on one of the most deserted streets in the village and directly opposite the one that Luelmo had been renting for only three days.

Her body was found after one of her family members reported her missing on December 12. The forensics asked for “respect” towards their colleagues and towards the conclusions that they had issued in their first reports that gave a two-day margin for her date of death.

English version by Asia London Palomba.

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