An ADO driver hired to bring Barbara McClatchie Andrews home in the final leg of an extensive trip north has been arrested in her strangulation death, according to local media reports.
State prosecutors identify the suspect as a Veracruz native, Juan Carlos López Martínez, who was living in Kinchil with his wife and two children.
The driver was reportedly hired late Thursday, Sept. 29, in Cancun to drive McClatchie Andrews, 74, back home for a four-hour trip to Mérida. The journey was the final leg of a trip to the U.S. and Canada, according to reports.
Her body was found on the side of the road a few kilometers outside her destination.
Robbery is the suspected motive, prosecutors said, after exploring alternative theories connected with her past as a journalist.
Officials gathered evidence and presented it to a judge, who issued a warrant for Martínez’s arrest.
The artist was a National Geographic photographer who had transitioned into abstract art, opening a non-profit gallery in her home south of the zocalo. McClatchie Andrews had lived in Mérida for the past decade.
The stunned reaction from Mérida’s overlapping art and expat communities was immediate.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” fellow artist Carlos Duran told the Globe and Mail, a newspaper in Toronto. “She treated me like family.”
The broadsheet noted that while Mérida is home to a tight-knit Canadian expat community, McClatchie Andrews spoke fluent Spanish and had many Mexican friends.
Eva Boyd, a long-standing friend from the victim’s hometown in British Columbia, called her a “fascinating and lively and vital person.”
Boyd described McClatchie Andrews as a blur of activity who hated to be still and took frequent solo trips to the obscure parts of distant countries from Turkey to Mongolia to Kenya.
“This is a woman who traveled widely to deep, dark, dangerous places,” Boyd told the Globe and Mail, calling her friend “fearless.”
Apparently, the photographer had been traveling to wrap up a nine-month-long art project consisting of photographs composed to resemble abstract paintings. She appeared to be paying tribute to both Yucatán and Vancouver in a single collection.
“The images are abstract, their content reflecting the source of inspiration,” McClatchie Andrews wrote on her website, which was recently updated.
“It begins and ends in British Columbia: the Sechelt Peninsula, Galiano Island, and the unique and vibrant Main Street in Vancouver’s heart,” she wrote “A five-month period of work in Mérida, Yucatán punctuates the work in British Columbia.”