San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Public Defense Lawyer Suspected in Wife’s Death

Authorities are investigating a public defense lawyer whose wife was found dead Sunday as the principal suspect in the case. The lawyer had reported his wife missing July 13.

The body of judicial assistant Maureen Hidalgo, 28, who had been missing since July 11, was found decomposing in a plastic bag in a ditch in a rural area outside the west Central Valley town of Atenas.

Laborer Julio Sánchez found the body after noticing a group of vultures and investigating further, the daily La Nación reported.

The body was first identified by a tattoo of a flower on her back, with the name Luisfer in the center, a common nickname for Luis Fernando. Hidalgo’s husband, Luis Fernando Burgos, has a matching tattoo on his back with Maureen’s name in the center. Burgos told the daily that the two got the tattoos shortly before marrying. Sunday, the day the body was found, was the couple’s one-year wedding anniversary.

Burgos reported the disappearance of his wife July 13, and less than two hours later, Chief Prosecutor Dall’ Anese received an anonymous call saying that Burgos had murdered his wife, the daily Al Día reported. Judicial authorities announced Monday they are officially investigating Burgos as a suspect in the murder.

Burgos is a recognized public defender who has also been named as an interim judge on a few occasions, according to La Nación.

Officials questioned Burgos for five hours July 14, before the body was discovered, and the lawyer allowed authorities to search his home without a warrant and submitted himself to medical examinations, he told Al Día. Monday, officials seized two vehicles belonging to Burgos and three handguns.

Hidalgo was buried Monday at the San Juan de Dios cemetery in Desamparados, in southern San José, surrounded by friends, family and the media. Burgos also attended the ceremony.


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