By Joe Johnson
Members of the local Hispanic immigrant community will be coming together Friday evening for greater awareness of the unsolved death of 38-year-old Athens resident Adriana Castañeda.
The Mexican immigrant’s body was found on March 21 in a wooded area near Maple Forge off of Lavender Road, two weeks after she was reported to be missing.
Her family members do not believe that police are investigating the case as vigorously as they might if Castañeda hadn’t been a Latina immigrant.
“They feel like when a white person goes missing, they are found on the second or third day,” said Angel Torres, spokesman for Digndidad Immigrante en Athens, which is organizing a Justice For Adriana rally and vigil in downtown Athens.
According to Torres, Castañeda’s family does not believe that the police looked into the woman’s disappearance with a sense of urgency, even though it was out of character for her to go anywhere without letting people know.
Reportedly intending to go to a party at a local bar, Castañeda was last seen at her home on Kathwood Drive where she was picked up by a vehicle driven by a unknown person. Torres said family members think that person could have been an ex-boyfriend who owns a house over three miles away on Maple Forge Drive, very near to where the woman's body was located by police. The man reportedly left the county for Mexico at about the time Casañeda went missing.
Lt. Shaun Barnett, spokesman for he Athens Clarke County Police Department, said Castañeda’s case has received the full attention of investigators.
“Detectives were exhaustive and meticulous in their efforts to locate Castaneda when she was reported missing to ACCPD on May 7,” he said. “When Castaneda’s body was located on March 21, ACCPD immediately initiated a death investigation utilizing every appropriate resource available. We will continue to thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding Castaneda’s death.”
According to police, the woman’s body showed no signs of fatal injury, and an autopsy was not able to immediately determine a cause of death. Pending results from toxicology testing could help in solving the mystery, police have indicated.
Torres said family members think that Castaneda was murdered. Investigators have not ruled out that possibility.
The Justice for Adriana rally is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with a rally at City Hall on College Avenue and is set to end with a vigil at the University of Georgia Arch on East Broad Street.
“We are not trying to cause trouble, we just want to be heard,” Torres said.