May 15, 2012, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Villatoro's body was found six days after the radio journalist was kidnapped from his car. Villatoro, 47, was a prominent host and news coordinator at HRN, one of Honduras' most popular radio stations. His body was found on a sidewalk dressed in the uniform of a special operations police unit and with a red handkerchief covering his face, according to news reports. The journalist had two gunshot wounds to the head. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots in the area a few hours before the body was discovered.
Earlier that day, President Porfirio Lobo told journalists that the kidnappers had sent a "proof of life" video with images of Villatoro. He later clarified that the images were from three days earlier, according to news reports. News accounts said the journalist's family had received a demand for ransom. Héctor Ivan Mejía, spokesman for the national police, told journalists there were many possible theories but that nothing had been confirmed and that police would continue to investigate.
On May 22, authorities arrested three suspects--two sisters and a cousin--whom they accused of being accomplices to the kidnapping and murder, according to news reports. The suspects, who police officials said were linked to phone calls to Villatoro's family, were placed in detention. All three denied the charges. Authorities also accused two other men incarcerated on unrelated charges, one a former police officer, of being involved with ransom negotiations, according to news reports.
Motive Unconfirmed: CPJ is investigating to determine whether the death was work-related.
- Attacks on the Press: Divided, Journalists Are at Risk, February 14, 2013
- Amid violence, lack of unity among Honduran journalists, June 12, 2012
- Kidnapped Honduran journalist found dead, May 16, 2012