Real Name: Mario V. Amado
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Rosarito Beach, Mexico
Date: June 6, 1992
Details: In June 1992, twenty-nine-year-old Mario Amado, his girlfriend, "Paula", his older brother, Joe, and Joe's girlfriend, Debbie, all left Los Angeles to go to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, to party. They arrived at around 1am on the morning of June 6. They stayed at a condo owned by one of Paula's relatives. They had socialized until around 3:30am, when Joe and Debbie decided to go to bed.
At around 7am, they woke up to the sounds of Mario and Paula arguing. Mario entered Joe's room, claiming that he wanted to leave. Debbie felt that something was wrong. However, a few hours later, they seemed fine. That afternoon, Joe and Debbie went on a romantic drive around the coast of Baja, California.
At that same time, Mario and Paula got into another argument. She kicked him out of the condo, but he refused to leave. A few minutes later, the police arrived and arrested him for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. He was taken to the local police station; however, he was not formally charged with any crime.
At 6:30pm, Joe and Debbie returned to the condo. They were surprised to find it vacant and the key under the mat missing. A maid told them about how the police came. Debbie crawled through a window to get inside. Just a few seconds later, four police officers arrived, asking for Paula. Suspicious, Debbie decided to follow them. They went to a bar and seemed frantic, searching for Paula.
Just a few minutes later, Paula returned to the condo. When asked about Mario, she claimed that she didn't know where he was. Two hours later, several detectives arrived and told Joe, Debbie, and Paula that he was dead. Joe went with them to the police station. He was shown photographs of his body. He did not understand why he was not wearing a shirt.
The detectives claimed that Mario had killed himself by tying one part of a sweater around his neck and the other part around a bar, three feet above the ground. Joe could not believe that this was possible. When he asked why no one had stopped him, the detectives claimed that everyone was asleep. Joe also did not believe this because the alleged suicide would have occurred at 5pm.
Joe was forced to return to the United States without Mario. The Mexican authorities claimed that they were holding it until their autopsy on him was completed. For unknown reasons, they would not tell Joe how long it would take. Within a week, it was completed. It listed the cause of death as a loss of oxygen to the brain, as a result of him hanging himself.
Joe did not believe the ruling, so he contacted congressman Howard Berman. He was also suspicious of the suicide ruling. Joe hired an independent pathologist to conduct a second autopsy on Mario. This pathologist concluded that internal injuries to his liver was strong evidence that he had been punched in the upper abdomen. He believed that, due to these injuries, he would have not been able to hang himself.
Joe and Berman believe that Mario was struck in the abdomen and seriously injured, then hung by an unknown individual to make his death look like a suicide. The Los Angeles County Coroner reviewed both autopsy reports and determined that he had probably been murdered.
Another shocking detail in this case is that the Mexican authorities violated international agreements by not contacting the U.S. consulate as quickly as possible following Mario's death. It is now believed that a cover-up was involved in it.
Eventually, Berman contacted the President of Mexico, who promised to reopen the investigation. In January 1993, Mario's body was exhumed for yet another autopsy. Mexican and American authorities are hoping that new evidence will come about with the new autopsy.
Suspects: Mario's family suspected that the police officers who arrested him assaulted him, and when he died, they tried to hide their crime as a suicide. This has not been proven.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 17, 1993 episode.
Results: Unresolved. As a result of the January 1993 autopsy, enough evidence was found to prove that Mario was murdered. Specifically, fibers found embedded in his neck were determined to come from a rope not a sweater. It is now believed that he was severely beaten in his jail cell and strangled with a rope, prior to having his death scene staged to look like a suicide.
Four months later, in May, a former police officer named Jose Antonio Verduzco Flores was arrested for Mario's murder. Two witnesses claimed that they had seen him enter Mario's cell, struggle with him, and later wrap a sweater around his neck. He was tried and convicted of intentional homicide in Mario's death. In 1996, he was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.
However, the conviction was overturned four months later and Flores was released. Other inmates testified that they had seen Mario being beaten by an officer. However, they could not identify Flores as the attacker. This case remains unsolved. According to some sources, it is believed that two officers were involved in Mario's murder, meaning at least one of the killers remains unidentified.
- Mario Amado on Unsolved.com
- Embassy Pushes for Investigation of U.S. Citizen's Death in Tijuana Jail - June 12, 1992
- Family Says Man Was Slain in Mexico - August 21, 1992
- Brother Pursues Truth on Death in Mexican Jail - May 3, 1993
- Mexican Officer Charged in Jail Death of U.S. Man - May 11, 1993
- Mexican Policeman Held in Jail Death - May 11, 1993
- Rosarito Jail Officer Faces Murder Trial - May 14, 1993
- Officer Gets 8 1/2 Years in Mexico Jail Killing - January 12, 1996
- Mexican Jailer Freed in Local Man's Death - May 14, 1996
- Berman Asks Mexico to Reopen Jail Death Case - May 26, 1996
- Valley Man's Death in Baja Gets New Look - May 31, 1996
- A Trip Mario Amado Would Never Return From - November 3, 2019
- Mario Amado on Find a Grave