Police believe five-year-old was asphyxiated before being thrown into river
AN autopsy on the body of Mariluz Cortes shows the five-year-old died only hours after she went missing on January 13.
Police recovered her badly decomposed body from a river estuary in Huelva on March 8 – almost two months after she disappeared while buying sweets near her home.
Tests revealed Mariluz had suffered a broken rib before her death, leading police to believe she was grabbed from behind.
Marks on her face show her mouth and nose were covered until she suffocated to death.
Police have ruled out the possibility that the five-year-old died as a result of accidentally falling into either of the two rivers that run through the city.
Officers are now searching the banks of the Odiel and Tinto rivers to discover the location she was thrown in to the water.
Her body was found fully-clothed and tests revealed no sexual assault had taken place.
The girl’s parents – Juan Jose Cortes, 34, a former professional footballer, and Irene Suarez – had maintained from the first day of her disappearance that she had been abducted.
The case has drawn parallels with that of missing British toddler, who disappeared in May last year. Huelva is a short drive from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz from where Madelaine McCann disappeared in May last year while her parents were dining with friends.
Parents of missing Madelaine, Gerry and Kate McCann, had included images of Mariluz in posters to find their own daughter.
They are said to be “saddened” by the discovery.