Man charged in surfer deaths told girlfriend he killed ‘3 gringos,’ court hears

Click to play video: 'Missing Australian, American surfers found dead in well after ‘attempted carjacking’ in Mexico'
Missing Australian, American surfers found dead in well after ‘attempted carjacking’ in Mexico
Three surfers who went missing in Baja California, Mexico over a week ago were confirmed dead after relatives identified their bodies, Mexican officials announced Sunday. Authorities said the evidence showed that the men, who were tourists from Australia and the U.S., were likely victims of a violent carjacking attempt. – May 6, 2024

A man accused of killing three men who were on a surfing trip in Mexico allegedly confessed the crime to his girlfriend, according to testimony read in court Wednesday.

The man, identified as Jesús Gerardo “N,” who also goes by the alias “El Kekas” — a slang word for quesadillas — was charged with the forced disappearance of Australian brothers Jake and Callum Robinson and their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad, shortly before the missing men were found dead. Murder charges are expected to be filed soon by prosecutors. Mexican authorities do not release the last names of people involved in pending criminal cases.

The three men were found with gunshot wounds to the head at the bottom of a 15-metre well, about six kilometres from their campsite. They had been surfing and camping together on the coast of Baja California when they were last heard from on April 27. A land and sea search was launched and lasted for nearly a week before their bodies were found.

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Prosecutors believe they were the victims of a violent carjacking.

The photos of the foreign surfers who disappeared, and were later found dead, placed on the beach in Ensenada, Mexico, Sunday, May 5, 2024. AP Photo/Karen Castaneda

The key witness in the prosecution’s case is El Kekas’ girlfriend, whose testimony was read aloud in court Wednesday. She told investigators that he left home on the night of April 27 in her Ford Ranger pickup and returned in a different vehicle — the victims’ pickup, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

El Kekas told her that he had “f—ked up three gringos,” when she pressed him on what that meant, he said he had “killed them,” according to reports from the BBC and 1News.

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He then allegedly gave her a cellphone, which belonged to one of the men, and left to dispose of the victims’ vehicle. The pickup was later found by investigators burned and without any tires. El Kekas allegedly returned home and took his girlfriend outside to show her the four new tires on her Ford Ranger. “Look what I brought you,” he’s alleged to have said.

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El Kekas was arrested and brought in for questioning by police on May 3 after investigators found the victims’ burned-down campsite, which showed evidence of a violent struggle. Two others are also in custody, El Kekas’ girlfriend and his brother, according to Mexican newspaper El País, though investigators are probing if more people were involved in the attack.

Blurred out photo of Jesús Gerardo “N”, a Mexican man charged with the forced disappearance of three surfers who went missing in Baja California on April 27, 2024. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF BAJA CALIFORNIA

The Ford Ranger pickup truck allegedly used by the attackers was searched and a gun was found inside. Prosecutors say it had been recently fired.

El Kekas has yet to enter a plea to the court.

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Apart from burned-down tents, investigators found gun casings, blood stains and drag marks at the victims’ campsite. Baja prosecutors hypothesize that Rhoad and the Robinson brothers put up a fight after they noticed their vehicle being plundered and were shot in the head by the armed robbers.

After a multi-day search, they were found in a boarded-up well about six kilometres away from the campsite in an “extremely” remote area. Inside were four bodies: the three tourists who had gone missing, as well as a fourth, older body.

The three men’s bodies had likely been in the well for five to seven days by the time they were found, according to NBC San Diego, citing a local medical examiner. The fourth body had been there much longer and may be from an unrelated homicide case.

After the bodies were found, members of the local surfing community in Ensenada, near where the three men had been camping, gathered at the beach to pay their respects to the dead surfers.

“Ensenada is a mass grave,” read one protester’s poster.

“They only wanted to surf — we demand safe beaches,” another sign read.

The parents of the Robinson brothers travelled from Perth, Australia to Mexico to identify the remains of their sons. At a Tuesday memorial ceremony in Ocean Beach, one of Callum’s favourite surf spots in San Diego, Debra Robinson said that their “hearts are broken and the world has become a darker place for us,” with her husband at her side.

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“They were young men enjoying their passion of surfing together,” Debra said. “Now it’s time to bring them home to family and friends, and the ocean waves in Australia.”

Brothers Callum and Jake Robinson in photos shared to social media. The Australian Robinson brothers went missing with their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad (not pictured) in Mexico while on a surfing trip. Mexican authorities said May 2 that three people are being questioned in connection to the missing persons. Facebook/Debra Robinson & Instragram/callum10robinson

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