2 Americans Killed, Third Spared

By Gunmen on Mexican Highway

MEXICO CITY -- Robbers shot and killed two U.S. citizens and left a third at the side of a rural road, sparing her life because she was pregnant, Mexican authorities said Saturday.

Reynaldo Valdez, 20, from Houston, was traveling with Ashley Lynn Dininger, 16, and Vanessa Burgos, 22, both of Miami, when their minivan was forced off a road Thursday night in southern Mexico by a car blocking their way. Gunmen then emerged from that car, abducted them, and after robbing them, shot two of them in the head. When the third pleaded for her life, she was left at the side of the road alive, according to a Mexican law enforcement official who asked not to be identified.

An official at the U.S. Embassy confirmed that Valdez and Dininger were killed and that Burgos led police to three men who were arrested Friday.

The Mexican official said the gunmen decided that each of them would kill one of the victims, but the man who was to kill Burgos did not pull the trigger when she cried and pleaded in English: "Please don't kill me! Please don't kill me. I am pregnant!" When he returned to join the two others and they found out he had left Burgos alive, they ordered him to go back and "finish the job." But when he returned, she again pleaded, and he spared her life.

The area where the murders occurred Thursday around 8 p.m. is an isolated part of a region called the Tierra Caliente, or the Hotlands, a large expanse of mostly rural land that is well-known for its production of coffee and sugarcane. It is an isolated area also well-known for its illegal drug activity.

Mary Jordan


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-- From News Services