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Mother of L.A. student slain in Ecuador seeks answers to daughter's death

October 7, 2009 |  7:55 am

The mother of a Cal State L.A. student slain in Ecuador is pushing for an investigation, claiming local police in the South American country and the U.S. Embassy are doing little about the case.

Gloria Daniela Lopez, 26, was stabbed and her throat slit Sept. 9 in Ambato, Ecuador, where she had been on vacation since late June, said her mother, Gloria Lema of Los Angeles. A family friend, Meghan Kendal, said Lopez also had been decapitated and was possibly raped. Lopez was studying sociology at Cal State L.A.

Lema, who immigrated to the United States from Ecuador 28 years ago, traveled to Ambato after the killing to identify her daughter’s body. There she contacted local police and the U.S. Embassy.

“The police investigation, they can’t do anything, because they said she’s American, they need to send someone from here to investigate,” Lema said she was told by local police. “It’s a month already, and they don’t have anybody, they don’t do anything, nothing, nothing much.”

A U.S. State Department official would confirm only that Lopez had died in Ambato, about 70 miles from the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, and that her body had been discovered Sept. 10.

The official, who requested anonymity because she is not authorized to speak about the case publicly, would not confirm whether Lopez was raped or murdered. But she said an investigation is ongoing and that the U.S. Embassy in Quito is working closely with local authorities.

Lema said police officials in Ambato told her they have no evidence, and she said embassy officials told her they do not have a police department to investigate the case.

Kendal said she and Lema have reached out to U.S. officials, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), to push for an investigation and to help bring Lopez’s body home.

“I talked with her every single night,” Lema said, referring to when Lopez was alive in Ecuador. “I said, 'How are you?' and "How are you doing?' She was so happy there. She said, 'I have nice people here.'”

-- Raja Abdulrahim

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