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Although femicide is a recognised crime in Mexico, when a woman disappears, the authorities are notoriously slow to act. But there is someone who will take on their case. O n the night of 30 Octoberas many Mexicans were preparing to celebrate the Day of the Dead, the family of Jessica Jaramillo stood in the pouring rain watching two dozen police search a house on the outskirts of Toluca, the capital of Mexico State.

At about 9pm, the authorities carried out a dead dog, followed by two live ones and a cat. Jessi, a year-old psychology student at a local university, had gone missing a week earlier. That was strange. She never stayed out all night. The man always wore a black shirt tucked into black cargo pants, with calf-high black combat boots.

He was muscular, about 6ft tall, and had a military-style buzz cut. The family had helped Jessi transfer to another local university so that she could get away from him. Now, they rushed over to the address, a two-storey concrete house with iron bars on the front door and windows. The family knocked, but no one answered. So they divided up. They were starting to panic.

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Their faces haunt billboards and social media feeds, alongside pleas for help returning them to loved ones. Many of the missing are never found.

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According to the Jaramillos, the officials shrugged them off. The Jaramillos insisted that the officials launch an investigation and refused to budge.

After several hours, the officials relented. Then he called the police on them. Officers came, took statements outside, and once again left. He had homework to do over the weekend, he said.

At about 8. At Then 20 minutes later, he stepped out again. In a video the Jaramillos took, you can see him stride by, clad in his black, military-style uniform — like an overgrown action figure — a backpack slung over his shoulder, a phone clutched to his ear. According to police, at this point, he skipped town. The following night, police swarmed the house.

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By then, Jessi was dead. According to local press reports, she had been strangled and left in a bath. The Jaramillos were exhausted, heartbroken and furious. But then, a few days later, a woman named Frida Guerrera knocked on their door. F rida Guerrera is a journalist who hunts down men who kill women.

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For the past five years, Guerrera, who is 50, has devoted nearly every waking hour to searching for disappeared women and memorialising the victims of femicide. A distinct crime recognised in many Latin American countries, femicide is defined as the murder of a woman because of her gender. UN Women calls Latin America the most lethal place for women outside war zones. More femicides are committed in Mexico than in any other country in the region, except Brazil.

She then selects a few cases to write up on her blog, a never-ending scroll of pictures of victims, which she gathers from interviews with their parents. Throughout the day, Guerrera posts missing person notices on her Twitter and Facebook s and asks her tens of thousands of social media followers to help find the women or the men who targeted them. Guerrera claims that she has helped police find more than 40 killers since It was then, shortly after the Jaramillos had returned home from burying their daughter, Guerrera showed up at their house.

Guerrera does this work in part because the police regularly fail to. Police incompetence is compounded by corruption: federal money that is meant to go to training and paying skilled local police gets siphoned off by local officials instead. Misogyny also plays a large role: many police assume that young women have simply run off with their boyfriends and refuse to open cases before 72 hours have passed — even though a national protocol clearly states that a search should be initiated immediately.

She published the blog on 11 November. Guerrera felt a surge of anger.

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F or Guerrera, violence against women is personal. In recent years, Ecatepec has sometimes been described as the most dangerous place in the country to be a woman — between January and Marchat least 1, women were killed there — but back when she wasGuerrera said it felt safe.

As a young woman, Guerrera studied psychology, fell in love, hadfell out of love and met somebody new. It was the first time she remembers reading about these kinds of crimes. But all that was taking place so far away — 1, miles north of Mexico City — on the border with the US. Then the violence hit close to home. Her new boyfriend started beating her, and the violence slowly escalated. He broke her nose, then several ribs.

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On 3 Maywhen she was 36 and had been with him seven years, she left. She moved to Oaxaca to reinvent herself. In Oaxaca, she ed a left-leaning radio collective and began reporting on local corruption and victims of state-sponsored violence, especially women and children. Death threats were routine, and she isolated herself from friends and family to protect them. One time she opened her front door to find the crushed corpse of one of her cats lying in front of her.

Then one day she was grabbed off the street, blindfolded, hustled into a van, beaten and told to leave Oaxaca. This happened on three occasions, she told me. She thought of one immediately: Frida, after the artist Frida Kahlo.

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The producer encouraged Guerrera to try out a new, safer job: working on the communications team for a young senator running for Oaxaca governor. The senator won, and hired Guerrera full-time. She stayed for the next six years, safe under a friendly administration. InGuerrera moved back to Mexico City to live with a new partner. The surge in violence had created a far more lethal country for women, one in which they were more likely to die in the crossfire, but also in private, domestic settings. One afternoon, Guerrera found herself searching the internet for stories of murdered women.

She found different cases.

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Later, she got in touch with their parents to talk about who their daughters were, and why no one protected them. But if Guerrera was part of a movement of journalists chronicling the murders of women, she went one step further. She started trying to solve them, too. It started in earlywhen an unidentified four-year-old girl was found dead in a dumping ground in Mexico State, naked save for a green T-shirt and a pair of ruby-coloured socks. To her, the case represented the casualness with which the media and the government treated crimes against women and girls. So she went online and on the radio and asked her growing base of followers to help identify the girl.

After four months, she received an with three photos of the girl taken on the day police found her, in which her face was visible.

A forensic artist got in touch and offered to do the job. Then a few weeks later, a man phoned Guerrera. Guerrera compiled all the evidence she had been given and turned it over to the authorities. Guerrera grew famous, and her combative manner attracted plenty of press attention.

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He has also repeatedly suggested that women speaking out about femicide are funded by his conservative political enemies who wish to discredit his administration. Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me the accusations against Guerrera are almost certainly unfounded.

It was a familiar smear, regularly used against any journalists and human rights activists.

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Other journalists are more dismissive of Guerrera. To her supporters, this is a of Guerrera trying to protect vulnerable and mourning families from an industry which, historically, has not been on their side. To her critics, it suggests that Guerrera does not want to share the limelight.

It also mentioned a black notebook containing five names and five dates — a list of the people he had murdered.

How do I know this? If she checked up on his pets and sent him pictures, he told Guerrera, he would give her information on his murders. There was just one problem: the police had shot Gronda dead on the night of the search. For the next three weeks, Guerrera hardly ate or slept. He often launched into tirades about how much he hated his mother.

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