Mexico: Burned remains probably are 43 missing

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Why Americans Should Care About Mexico's 43 Missing Students
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Suspects in the disappearance of 43 college students have confessed to loading the youths onto dump trucks, murdering them at a landfill, then burning the bodies and dumping the ashen remains into a river, Mexican authorities said Friday.

In a somber, lengthy explanation of the investigation, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam played video showing hundreds of charred fragments of bone and teeth fished from the river and its banks. He said it will be very difficult to extract DNA to confirm that they are the students missing since Sept. 26 after an attack by police in the southern state of Guerrero.

"I know the enormous pain the information we've obtained causes the family members, a pain we all share," Murillo Karam said at a news conference. "The statements and information that we have gotten unfortunately point to the murder of a large number of people in the municipality of Cocula."

Some 74 people have been detained so far in a case. Authorities say it said started when police, under orders of the former Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and working with a drug gang, opened fire on students in the city of Iguala, where they were collecting donations and had commandeered public buses. Six people were killed in two confrontations before the 43 were taken away and handed over to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. Abarca and his wife are among those arrested.

Murillo Karam said authorities are searching for more suspects.

The parents, human rights groups and Mexicans in general have been appalled by the government's slow response to a case that has exposed in the worst way decades of collusion between officials and organized crime along with government inaction. There had been accusations for more than a year that Abarca was involved in killing and disappearing rivals but no investigation. When students who survived the Iguala confrontation sought help from the military the night of the attack, they said they were turned away.

Parents reacting to Murillo Karam's report Friday said they have lost trust in anything the government says.

"As long as there are no results, our sons are alive," Felipe de la Cruz, the father of one of the disappeared. "Today they're trying to close the case this way ... a blatant way to further our torture by the federal government."

In the most comprehensive accounting to date of the disappearances and the subsequent investigation, Murillo Karam showed videotaped confessions by those who testified they used dump trucks to carry the students to a landfill site in Cocula, a city near Iguala. About 15 of the students were already dead when they arrived at the site and the rest were shot there, according to the suspects.

They then built an enormous funeral pyre that burned from midnight until 2 or 3 p.m. along the River San Juan in Cocula. "They assigned guards in shifts to make sure the fire lasted for hours, throwing diesel, gasoline, tires, wood and plastic," Murillo Karam said.

The suspects even burned their own clothes to destroy evidence, they said.

It was about 5:30 p.m. when the ashes had cooled enough to be handled. Those who disposed of the bodies were told to break up the burned bones, place them in black plastic garbage bags and empty them into the river.

Murillo Karam said the teeth were so badly charred that they practically dissolved into dust at the touch.

"The high level of degradation caused by the fire in the remains we found make it very difficult to extract the DNA that will allow an identification," he said.

Murillo Karma had told relatives of the missing students earlier Friday that authorities believe their children are these charred remains, but have no DNA confirmation.

Murillo Karam also confirmed at the news conference that human remains found in mass graves discovered after the students went missing did not include any of the 43 young men enrolled at a radical rural teachers college. Those graves held women and men believed to have been killed in August, he said.

Among the bodies found in the course of the investigation were a father and son. By searching for reports of father-son disappearances, authorities were able to make a positive identification. Murillo Karam said the victims, whose names he did not use, apparently made a call before disappearing to say they were being detained by Iguala police.

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman contributed to this report.

38 PHOTOS
Missing students in Mexico
See Gallery
Mexico: Burned remains probably are 43 missing
Cars remain on the Chilpancingo-Acapulco highway during a roadblock in demand of the appearance of 43 missing students in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. Desperate relatives of 43 missing university students have demanded a meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, after nearly a month of searching that has yielded no trace of their loved ones. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
A masked student participates in a roadblock highway demanding the appearence of the 43 missing peers in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. Desperate relatives of 43 missing university students have demanded a meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, after nearly a month of searching that has yielded no trace of their loved ones. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An artist paints a portarit of one of the 43 missing students at the Normal school Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. A month after the disappearance of 43 male college students in southern Mexico, the case that has revealed how deep drug traffickers infiltrate all aspects of life in the country still leaves many questions unanswered. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An artist paints a portarit of one of the 43 missing students at the Normal school Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. A month after the disappearance of 43 male college students in southern Mexico, the case that has revealed how deep drug traffickers infiltrate all aspects of life in the country still leaves many questions unanswered. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An artist paints a portarit of one of the 43 missing students at the Normal school Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. A month after the disappearance of 43 male college students in southern Mexico, the case that has revealed how deep drug traffickers infiltrate all aspects of life in the country still leaves many questions unanswered. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An artist paints a portarit of one of the 43 missing students at the Normal school Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. A month after the disappearance of 43 male college students in southern Mexico, the case that has revealed how deep drug traffickers infiltrate all aspects of life in the country still leaves many questions unanswered. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An artist paints a portarit of one of the 43 missing students at the Normal school Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. A month after the disappearance of 43 male college students in southern Mexico, the case that has revealed how deep drug traffickers infiltrate all aspects of life in the country still leaves many questions unanswered. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Masked students participate in a roadblock on the Chilpancingo-Acapulco highway demanding the appearence of the 43 missing peers in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, Mexico on October 26, 2014. Desperate relatives of 43 missing university students have demanded a meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, after nearly a month of searching that has yielded no trace of their loved ones. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Guerrero's state governor Angel Aguirre speaks during a press conference in Chilpancingo, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014 after leaving his post citing he wants to clear the way for the investigation regarding the disappearance of 43 students almost a month ago. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/JESUS GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JESUS GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard at federal buildings before possible protests announced by the teachers' union in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Around 100 teachers occupied the city hall of the Mexican tourist resort of Acapulco to demand authorities find dozens of students who disappeared nearly a month ago. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard at federal buildings before possible protests announced by the teachers' union in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Around 100 teachers occupied the city hall of the Mexican tourist resort of Acapulco to demand authorities find dozens of students who disappeared nearly a month ago. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hooded students take control of the tollbooths on the Acapulco-Chilpancingo highway, as part of a protest in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hooded students take control of the tollbooths on the Acapulco-Chilpancingo highway, as part of a protest in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hooded students (reflected on a vehicle's window) take control of the tollbooths on the Acapulco-Chilpancingo highway, as part of a protest in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Hooded students take control of the tollbooths on the Acapulco-Chilpancingo highway, as part of a protest in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 23, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Mass demonstrations have taken place in Mexico since the night the youths disappeared on September 26 in the town of Iguala, which shares the state of Guerrero with Acapulco -- a case that has sparked national and international outrage. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro PARDO (Photo credit should read Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO - OCTUBRE 22: A woman holds a candle during a protest for 43 missing students on October 22, 2014, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Students from Guadalajara protest in response to 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa who disappeared on the 26 September in Mexico.The 43 students were last seen near the town of Iguala, Guerrero, being led away by municipal police officers. Allegations of collaboration between local police and organized crime has sparked the country into protest. (Photo by Leonardo Alvarez/LatinContent/Getty Images)
XALAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO - 2014/10/22: Veracruz students took to the streets to demand the return of the 43 missing students (normalistas) in enforced disappearance by municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. (Photo by Raul Mendez Velazquez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO - OCTUBRE 22: People protest during a protest for 43 missing students on October 22, 2014, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Students from Guadalajara protest in response to 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa who disappeared on the 26 September in Mexico.The 43 students were last seen near the town of Iguala, Guerrero, being led away by municipal police officers. Allegations of collaboration between local police and organized crime has sparked the country into protest. (Photo by Leonardo Alvarez/LatinContent/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 22: Demonstrators hold banners of missing students during a protest against the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero on October 22, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 22: A demonstrator hold a banner of missing students during a protest against the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero on October 22, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People take part in a march October 22, 2014 in Mexico City demanding justice for the 43 missing students. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march demanding justice for the 43 missing students along a street in Mexico City on October 22, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a march October 22, 2014 in Mexico City demanding justice for the 43 missing students. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A sign reading 'I am a student and it hurts Ayotzinapa' is displayed during a vigil outside the Mexican embassy in Guatemala City on October 22, 2014 demanding the safe return of 43 students who went missing in southern Mexico this past September. Mexico faces growing international pressure to solve the disappearance of 43 students who vanished after they were attacked by police linked to a drug gang. AFP PHOTO/Johan ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) members participate in a protest on October 22, 2014 in Oventic, Chiapas state, Mexico to demand the appearence of 43 missing students. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/ ELIZABETH RUIZ (Photo credit should read ELIZABETH RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold lanterns and banners with pictures of the 43 missing students while participating in a march along a street in Mexico City on October 22, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Federal Police members check goods looted earlier today by local residents from the Plaza Tamarindos store --property of the former Mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca-- in Iguala, Guerrero State, on October 22, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/JESUS GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JESUS GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Federal Police members stand guard at the Plaza Tamarindos --property of the former Mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca-- after residents looted the store in Iguala, Guerrero State, on October 22, 2014. Mexican authorities ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging them with masterminding last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. AFP PHOTO/JESUS GUERRERO (Photo credit should read JESUS GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam gestures during a press conference at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on October 22, 2014. Iguala's mayor Jose Luis Abarca was accused on Wednesday of ordering attack on missing students. Mexican authorities have searched in vain for any trace of the college students who disappeared on September 26 in this town of some 140,000 inhabitants. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam arrives for a press conference at the Attorney General building in Mexico City on October 22, 2014. Iguala's mayor Jose Luis Abarca was accused on Wednesday of ordering attack on missing students. Mexican authorities have searched in vain for any trace of the college students who disappeared on September 26 in this town of some 140,000 inhabitants. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
The Mayor of Teloloapan Ignacio Valladares is pictured during an interview at the Municipal Palace, in Teloloapan, Guerrero State, Mexico, on October 19, 2014. The Federal police took the control of 13 municipalities of Guerrero State. Mexico faced growing international pressure to solve the disappearance of 43 students who vanished after they were attacked by police linked to a drug gang. AFP PHOTO//RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican nationals shout slogans calling for the safe return of 43 students missing in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, outside the Mexican embassy in Buenos Aires on October 22, 2014. Mexican residents in Argentina and other groups of organizations that defend human rights gathered to demand the resignation of those considered responsible for the crime: the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, the governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero and the President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL GARCIA (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


More on AOL.com
Suspect in grisly 2010 murder of family arrested
Robin Williams' autopsy sheds light on suicide
More US troops headed to Iraq to help fight ISIS

Read Full Story

People are Reading