A woman caught in Spain with the body of her stepson in her car boot admitted Tuesday she had killed him, police said, as a funeral was held for the young victim whose murder shook the country.
Ana Julia Quezada, a Dominican woman who had for years been going out with the father of eight-year-old Gabriel Cruz, “admitted being the perpetrator”, a police spokesman told AFP, without elaborating.
Gabriel’s disappearance on February 27 in the small southeastern village of Las Hortichuelas sparked a days-long search involving hundreds of volunteers.
His parents Patricia Ramirez and Angel Cruz, who are separated but get along well, have given countless tearful interviews since he went missing after leaving his grandmother’s house to go play.
As his father’s partner, Quezada had been a fixture in the search for Gabriel, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the boy’s smiling face and speaking to reporters in tears.
Then in a shocking twist, Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido announced Sunday that police had found Gabriel’s body in her car.
On Tuesday, Gabriel’s funeral at the cathedral in Almeria near Las Hortichuelas drew a huge, saddened crowd, with people shouting “we are all Gabriel”.
Speaking to the media, Cruz gave thanks for all the support received during excruciating days of uncertainty.
“You gave us strength to search for Gabriel,” he said.
News of Gabriel’s murder and Quezada’s arrest sparked an outpouring of hatred towards her in Spain, despite calls for calm by his parents.
Amateur footage broadcast Monday showed 43-year-old Quezada mobbed when she left a building accompanied by police, who had to wrestle with people to push them away.
One online petition signed by more than 330,000 people asked the Dominican Republic to request her extradition to serve prison time there so that she would not be allowed to enjoy “the comfort of Spanish jails”.
Another demanding that she be sentenced to life in prison has been signed by more than 270,000 people.
News also emerged that a girl presented as Quezada’s daughter by Spanish media died in 1996 in the northern city of Burgos after falling out of the window of their home.
Asked about this, Zoido confirmed Monday that an incident had taken place, saying police had investigated the tragedy at the time but the case was dismissed.
© 2018 AFP