9-year-old Liz Maria Sanchez was last seen just before 9 am Sunday August 16th on footage captured by a surveillance camera as she was walking into an alley toward the home of 40-year-old Esterlín "Baker" Francisco Santos. She reportedly told a friend that she was going to his place to get a cell phone that he had promised her.
According to Antena Latina Channel 7, a boy whose identity was not provided stated that he had spoken to Liz on Saturday and knew her intentions about retrieving a phone from Santos. He additionally stated that her parents knew that Santos has sexually assaulted her in the past and advised her not to go.
At 11:23 am Santos was caught by that same surveillance camera loading a bag into a milk crate on the back of his moped before departing. He returned to his residence at 12:33 pm without the bag.
Santos has been arrested and charged with rape and murder after he allegedly confessed to police. He is said to have told them that he had raped the young girl and then strangled her in order to keep her from telling her parents. Santos stated that he then put her and some rocks into the bag before dumping her body into the Caribbean Sea at kilometer 14 1/2 on the Las Américas Highway.
Since then, searchers have sough the bag and any sign of Liz but have come up empty. Monday the 24th was to be the final day searching the waters for her.
Santos has since changed his story though, and now asserts that his early confession was a result of coercion. Prosecutors however, assert that they have complete recordings of the interviews showing that there were no threats issued.
Liz's mother, Liselot García has stated that she does not believe that her daughter is dead but rather, suspects that her daughter has been trafficked. "This smells of human trafficking to me," she was quoted by Hoy as saying. "I don't believe anything he says to the police."
At this time, Santos has been ordered to remain in custody for 18 months while the investigation continues.