DNA tests pending
Updated Mar. 21, 2014 - Yucatán prosecutor confirms: remains found in remote peninsular region are those of missing Ukrainian tourist
Mérida, Yucatán -
Almost 13 months after the brutalized body of her husband was found in remote Dzitás county southeast of this state capital, the Yucatán prosecutor announced Friday the remains of a woman recently located in the same area could be those of Ukrainian national Maryna Burakova.
In late 2012 Oleksandr Batychko, 25, and wife Maryna arrived on the peninsula for vacation, renting a car in Playa del Carmen. The couple drove west towards Valladolid and Mérida, apparently intending to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.
On Jan. 7 a campesino from the tiny hamlet of Xocempich discovered Oleksandr's body in the rental. Batychko had been dead for days, according to state forensic investigators, and his remains were in an advanced state of decomposition. They said he was killed at the scene. Batychko was identified by DNA analysis, with test samples provided by family members in the eastern European nation. He was not repatriated for many weeks. Body of Ukrainian murder victim remains in Mérida, nearly six weeks after his death.
The latest discovery was made in the same area where Oleksandr's body was found in January 2013
Because cash and credit cards were found with Oleksandr, police discounted robbery as a motive. There was no trace of Maryna, despite an exhaustive search by local constables, and she soon became the prime suspect. Prosecutors said her fingerprints were all over a knife left at the scene, which they claim was the murder weapon. Oleksandr was stabbed many times, but the reason for the crime remained as obscure as the remote location where his battered body was found.
Mérida's main daily, Diario de Yucatán, and the English language Yucatan Times reported Batychko might have been a victim of gay sex gone awry based upon the condition of the crime scene. But if police are investigating that as an alternative motive they have not said so. There is no indication of what Maryna's role might have been in such an event.
Mexico issued an international arrest warrant for Maryna Burakova on Feb. 9. The assumption was that she might have fled the country via Belize, which borders southern Quintana Roo state. But the frontier is half a day's drive from where the abandoned car was found, and how she would have got there is unclear. Yucatán police admitted they had no idea where Maryna might have gone.
Yucatán deputy prosecutor Javier León León told a peninsular news service on Friday that the female remains were found in a remote area of Dzitás. He said DNA material would be used to compare with that of Maryna's mother, who lives in Kiev. León did not say if it would be possible to determine a time or manner of death.
Yucatán is one of the very safest of Mexico's 32 constituent states, both with respect to common crime and drug war violence. But if the remains prove to be those of Maryna Burakova, the mystery of what happened to the young couple in the most unlikely of places will deepen.
Feb. 9 - Yucatán state prosecutors have confirmed receipt of a DNA sample from Maryna Burakova's mother in Kiev. Comparison results should be known within a month, they said. Investigators also revealed that the female remains were found about half way between Xocempich and Valladolid, the largest town between Mérida and the Riviera Maya coast. If they're not Maryna's, then who's? There are no other missing person cases open in the remote area. If the DNA results prove negative, police will be back on the trail of the Ukrainian woman as they try to solve this bizarre crime.
Oct. 21, 2013 - Mystery of what befell Ukrainian couple in Yucatán backcountry remains unsolved
June 7, 2013 - Interpol joins search for Ukrainian woman in Yucatán murder case
Feb. 1, 2013 - Yucatán safety continues to be subject of hot debate
Jan. 18, 2013 - "Violence on Yucatán soil" - against foreigners
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