The boyfriend of Miss Honduras’ older sister has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, after the beauty queen and her sibling vanished just days before the Miss World contest is set to start in London.
Plutarco Antonio Ruiz was taken in for police questioning, alongside a second man, Aris Maldonado, over the alleged kidnapping of Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and his girlfriend, Sofia Trinidad, 23.
The pair were last seen leaving a birthday party at a local resort in Santa Barbara on Thursday evening in a car without a license plate. Maria Jose was set to travel to the capital on Wednesday in preparation for the annual competition.
A police spokesperson, Jose Coello, said that they believed Ruiz and Maldonado were the last people to see the women before they went missing.
“Both are being questioned as part of the investigation into the disappearance of [María José Alvarado] and her sister. We hope to establish what role they may have played,” Coello said.
Police went on to insist that the chances of authorities finding the women alive remain high.
“Nobody has asked for a ransom for their liberation and there have been no bodies found,” the Guardian quoted Inspector Vicente Reyes as saying. “These are strong signs that they are still alive.”
Patrols have also been set up along the border of Honduras and Guatemala
“This is a big operation,” Reyes continued. “She is a representative of the country.”
Witness accounts that the women had left the party with three men, he said, had not been confirmed.
Honduras statistically has worst murder rate in the world, and crimes such as kidnapping are common.
In 2013, the Violence Observatory set the murder rate in Santa Barbara at 83 per 10,000 inhabitants – a stark figure compared to that of New York City, with four murders to every 10,000, and London, with less than one to every 10,000.
Crimes like homicide and kidnap in the South American country are often related to gang warfare. But, Cory Alvarado – the older sister of the two women –claims there is no such link between her family and illegal activity.
“I want the world to know that they are good people and they always thought others were like them,” she said. “They were honest and happy and trusting.”
“Open your hearts and understand my pain,” her mother, Teresa de Jesus, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“There is an all-powerful God that sees everything and I hope you set them free.”
María José beat 18 fellow contestants to be awarded the title of Miss Honduras in April.
Miss World is set to start at the ExCel London tomorrow. The Grande Finale will take place on 14 December.Reuse content