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Gabriel 'strangled within hours of going missing'
MISSING eight-year-old Gabriel Cruz Ramírez was strangled on the day he disappeared, on February 27, according to a post-mortem.
The results show the little boy, who vanished after leaving his grandmother's house in the hamlet of Las Hortichuelas, near Níjar (Almería province) at 15.30 that day was unlikely to have been alive by the time his family reported him missing.
Although initial inquiries seem to show his killer Ana Julia Quezada, 43, acted alone, Gabriel's grandmother believes other people must have been involved.
She and Ana Julia were the only others in the house at the time Gabriel left, and it was 'about 10 minutes later' when Gabriel's father's girlfriend absented herself on the grounds that she had to go and clean someone's home.
This would have been more than enough time for Gabriel to get to the house of 'his Auntie Rosita', where he was headed to play with his cousins and friends, his grandmother says, convinced a third party must have waylaid the child en route.
Ana Julia aroused police suspicion when, during the search for Gabriel and four days after he went missing, she found the child's vest near the sewage plant in the village of Las Negras – in an area that had already been thoroughly searched.
The vest had not suffered the expected wear and tear of four days exposed to the elements, including torrential rain.
On Sunday, Ana Julia was filmed removing a large bundle from a well on a disused plot of farmland belonging to relatives of Gabriel's father Ángel Cruz, and placing it in the boot of her car.
She was arrested 80 kilometres later in the communal car park of the block of flats where she lived with Ángel in Vícar after police opened her boot, peeled back a blanket, and announced: “Affirmative.”
The officers burst into tears and had to comfort each other at the scene, and have been the first of many public figures to do so in light of Gabriel's violent death.
Regional president of Andalucía, Susana Díaz, at an emergency government meeting called after Gabriel's body was found, swallowed back tears addressing MPs.
Television presenters and news reporters have also been seen crying on air after speaking to Gabriel's parents.
Interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has been closely supporting the child's mother and father, who are separated but close friends, and was seen embracing them for a long time at the open memorial held for the little boy yesterday (Monday) at the Almería provincial government headquarters.
Ángel Cruz was too distraught to speak to Zoido until then, after learning that his girlfriend had been responsible for his son's murder.
Gabriel's mother Patricia Ramírez has urged the public 'not to stay angry' and 'not to talk about' the murder suspect.
“Gabriel doesn't deserve it,” she says. “Let him be remembered for who he was instead.”
Later reports claim Patricia and Ángel had begun to suspect Ana Julia themselves, but police had warned them not to let their feelings show.
“We were just appealing to her conscience and waiting for her to break down and confess,” Patricia explains.
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