In late October, the Charlotte, North Carolina resident went on a tropical vacation with several friends to Cabo, Mexico. While there, one of those acquaintances was videotaped violently beating Robinson in their villa rental just before her death.
via: New York Post
Shanquella Robinson, 25, of Charlotte, traveled on Oct. 28 with six friends to the resort city of San José del Cabo, where they stayed at the swanky Fundadores Beach Club, WBTV reported.
Her parents soon received a frantic phone call from Robinson’s friends, who told them she had died.
“They said she wasn’t feeling well, that it was alcohol poisoning,” Robinson’s mom, Sallamondra Robinson, told the news outlet.
The family told WBTV that Mexican authorities told them that Shanquella died of alcohol poisoning.
But the death certificate has revealed that the cause of death was a “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation,” an instability of the first two neck vertebrae, WSOC reported.
Alcohol was not mentioned in the report, according to the station.
The death certificate lists the time between injury and death as about 15 minutes and notes that Shanquella was found unconscious in the living room.
The mystery has been compounded by a horrific video that emerged allegedly showing Shanquella being beaten inside a hotel room. In the distressing video, someone can be heard asking if she “could at least fight back.”
It was unclear when and where the unverified video was taken, but Sallamondra told WSOC that she recognized the people in the footage as the friends who went to Mexico with her daughter.
The mother also said she believed the video was shot during the fateful trip.
“It was never a fight. She didn’t fight, they attacked her,” she told the WSOC.
Shanquella’s travel companions, who were not identified by the station, could not be reached, the outlet reported. Four numbers were disconnected and two numbers went to voicemail. Text messages to those numbers were not returned.
On Thursday, the State Attorney General’s Office of Baja California Sur confirmed the autopsy results and said that “an investigation was initiated for femicide,” ABC News reported.
Femicide is considered a hate crime in which a girl or woman is killed because of their gender.
Michael Lettieri, an expert on femicide in that region of Mexico, told WSB-TV that “it is supposed to be investigated in a very particular way that’s sensitive to the gender dynamics of the crime.”
When a woman is killed in Mexico, authorities are often required to launch the investigation as a femicide, he explained, adding that investigators look into whether she was killed because of her gender or if domestic violence was involved.
Lettieri told the outlet that the widespread attention the case has generated could help get the crime solved.
“That it is an American, means there will be additional pressure on the Mexican government and the state government to resolve this case and I think that will likely lead to a resolution,” he said.
The devastated parents expressed their frustration at the initial conflicting information and the relief that authorities are pursuing a criminal investigation.
“It’s like a nightmare. I can’t even sleep,” Shanquella’s father, Bernard Robinson, told WSOC. “I just want some truth because this doesn’t add up right.”
He added: “By the grace of God, I think I am going to get to the bottom of this. God ain’t gonna fail. It’s going to come out. I’m not giving up. I am very confident that I am going to have peace of mind.”
Sallamondra said she remembers how her daughter, a hard-working business owner, was happy to go to Mexico.
“I looked at some of her posts that she had put up,” she told WSOC. “She was really having a nice time and I don’t know where it went wrong from there.”
Sallamondra told WNCT that the group went to Mexico to celebrate a birthday.
“She told me they had a chef. They were getting ready to eat. They were eating tacos or a salad or something, and I said, ‘OK. I love you. Have a good night, and I will talk to you tomorrow,’” she told the outlet.
“I never talked to my child again. She never made it back home. They said she wasn’t feeling well. She had alcohol poisoning,” the mother said, referring to the friends. “They couldn’t get a pulse. Each one of the people that was there with her was telling different stories.”
She said her daughter’s body is back home but that she has many questions about the death and wants justice to prevail.
“She was a good child and had a great heart, and she did not deserve to be treated like that,” Sallamondra said.
The FBI said it is aware of the footage that has made the rounds in social media and encouraged “anyone with related photos or video to contact” the agency, WTIV reported.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Charlotte office told ABC News that it has been in touch with the family.
The State Attorney General’s Office of Baja California Sur said the investigation is ongoing and that “to the extent that the legal framework allows it, the results will be informed.”
The US State Department confirmed to WSOC that an American citizen died in Mexico during the time of Shanquella’s trip. But a spokesperson declined to provide additional information, citing respect for the family and privacy.