9 On Your Side Border Watch

American student found dead in Mexico

Police said 21-year-old was tortured and shot

CREATED Jul. 20, 2011

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  • A 21-year-old man from Nogales, Ariz. was tortured and killed last week during a visit across the border. Video by kgun9.com

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  • Friends and relatives of Juan Carlos Navarro, 21, are mourning his death after news he was murdered last week in Mexico

  • Friends and family members refused to talk on camera but said Navarro was a good student who wanted to make a better life for his girlfriend and unborn child

  • Navarro's neighbor, Dr. Richard Von Kazmeirz said he believes the murder was planned

Reporter: Ileana Diaz
Web Producer: Layla Tang

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - An American student has been found murdered in Mexico.  Juan Carlos "Peque" Navarro, 21, was found shot in the head in Nogales, Sonora.  His body was left on the side of a road.  Investigators said evidence points to the possibility that Navarro may have also been tortured.

Family members and friends in Navarro's Nogales, Ariz., neighborhood were shocked and saddened by the news of his murder.  Family members said Navarro was a good son and brother who had made some mistakes in the past, but was in school to give his girlfriend and their unborn child a better life.

"They were good people," Dr. Richard Von Kazmeirz said of Navarro's family.  "They weren't pillars of the community, but they were one of the extensions.  And the boy was trying to do well, and he did good in school."

However, some believe it's what Navarro did when he wasn't in school that got him into trouble.  Police said he was visiting Nogales, Sonora, last week when he was shot, tortured, and left on the street.  Family members wouldn't disclose any other details surrounding Navarro's death, but Dr. Von Kasmeirz told KGUN9 News it's not likely the attack was random.

"The cholos confide in me every now and then, and I don't snitch on them, but anonymously I will say there was some underplay there," he said.  "There was like, a conspiracy.  It was a planned job."

Dr. Von Kasmeirz said that Nogales residents are watching and listening and are aware of the border violence, but he doesn't believe Navarro's death will raise the level of fear in his neighborhood.

"Surprisingly, no," he said.  "Very few panic at such a situation."