Murderer 'chopped off American tourist's hands so she couldn't be identified'

Denise Thiem's body was discovered on Friday after she went missing in April

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The Independent Online

Spanish police are searching for body parts of an American tourist killed while undertaking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, according to local media.

Police investigators believe the murderer chopped off Denise Thiem's hands to prevent her identification, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports.

Miguel Angel Muñoz Blas, 39, has been remanded in custody pending trial after confessing to the murder of the 41-year-old from Arizona who went missing in April.

Blas’s lawyer Vicente Prieto said on the Spanish television programme TVE that his client had described the events of the night he killed Ms Thiem.

According to Mr Prieto, Blas said the victim appeared on his property “lost and asking for help to find her way back to the pilgrimage route”.

Denise Thiem

Blas said he became “nervous” and ended the meeting by hitting Ms Thiem on the head with a stick.

After determining she was dead, Blas said he buried her at the front of his house, Mr Prieto said.

However, Blas later dug Ms Thiem's body up and reburied her in a more secluded area of farmland.

“She was naked, I am not sure why,” said Mr Prieto.

“He burned her clothes and her backpack”.

Police had previously said Blas may have painted fake yellow arrows, used to mark the pilgrimage route, to divert pilgrims towards his house. 

Blas led police to Ms Thiem’s body on Friday after he was arrested for her murder.

A post-mortem report stated that Ms Thiem most likely died from a blow to the head.

The funeral mass held for Ms Thiem in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

A funeral mass was held for Ms Thiem in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the final destination of the pilgrimage.

A post apparently written by Ms Thiem's friends and family on the Facebook page “Help Us find Denise” said: “We all wish we could have attended the beautiful memorial.”

“Thank you for the touching words and prayers. It has been very comforting to Denise's friends and family to see you celebrate her life together. Todos somos Denise.”