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Argentina – The Scarlet and the Black

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By Elisa Carrasco Lanusse
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In Global Cold Cases, Elisa will explore various real crime cases from around the world. Through well-designed research, Elisa will invite readers to join her in her investigation of puzzling and shocking crimes that have yet to be solved.

Carmel’s gated community is largely like any other gated community in Argentina. Composed of beautiful houses with vast gardens and expensive decor, it is home to the elite of Buenos Aires. Inside these doors you will find names you would see in newspapers, gossip magazines, and donor lists for major political or social organizations. One of these names became particularly well known in Argentina at the end of 2002: that of María Marta García Belsunce, a 50-year-old sociologist working with nonprofit organizations throughout Buenos Aires.

October 27, 2002 was a day like any other in the precincts of Carmel. The weekend was drawing to a close and the inhabitants of the enclosure continued with their usual occupations. María Marta had left her sister’s house on her bike at 6:07 p.m. after spending the day and headed for a tennis match and then a massage appointment in her own house at 7:00 p.m. Carlos Carrascosa, María’s husband, stayed with his family watching the football game (Boca vs. River, a whole friendship ruined, a broken family, a ordeal that divides the nation) and was not due to arrive home until later in the day. After the match was over, he drove home, meeting a Carmel guard who told him that María’s masseuse was at the door. The guard had tried to reach María to let the masseuse in, but to no avail.

Carrascosa opened the door and dismissed the guard, letting the masseuse in. Heading for the house to look for his wife, he found her in the master bathroom. María Marta was lying fully clothed and unconscious in the tub, bloody water surrounding her body. Seeing the horrific scene, Carrascosa immediately called the masseuse, asking her to call María’s family, a neighbor and a doctor who lived in Carmel. Hours after the body was found, the called people were crowded around the scene and the small puddle of blood on the bathroom floor had been cleaned up. A conclusion had been drawn by the doctor and Carrascosa: María had slipped and hit her head on the tap, passing out and eventually dying.

The next day, October 28, 2002, a funeral was held in the house. Her death certificate stated that María had died of cardiac arrest. It was a whole month and a half after her funeral that an investigation began, after María’s half-brother admitted that he had found a small metallic object (he called it “pituto”) on the ground from the stage, wrapped it in toilet paper. and I threw it in the toilet.

During the investigation, which was opened on December 2, 2002, an autopsy found five .32 bullet holes in María’s head. It is believed that a sixth bullet grazed her head but did not hit her, which explains the “little metal thing” that was thrown by the brother. The case had now gone from an accident to a homicide. A panel of court-appointed experts examined the body and concluded that super glue had been used in an attempt to seal the wounds. Immediately, investigators turned to Carrascosa as the prime suspect, giving him preventive prison.

On July 13, 2007, after further investigation, the prosecutor presented his case and asked for the conviction of Carrascosa for the murder of María Marta, or at least for attempting to cover up a crime. After the trial, two medical examiners intervened to deny the allegations that superglue was found in the bullet holes. As a result, Carrascosa was acquitted of the murder and charged with attempting to cover up the crime. Almost two years later, on June 18, 2009, Carrascosa was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. He was taken to prison and while he was serving his sentence, five other people (all of them making up María’s family and neighbors) were tried for trying to cover up the crime. As a result, one was sentenced to six years in prison, another to four years, another to three and a half years, and the other two accomplices to three years in prison in 2011. On October 19, 2012, the Supreme Court of Justice of Buenos Aires ratified the life sentence for Carrascosa only to absolve her on December 20, 2016, 14 years after the death of María Marta. To this day, what exactly happened and who killed her remains a mystery.

With a lack of physical evidence or testimony, the terrible handling of the crime scene by the family, the late intervention of the police and a series of inconsistencies throughout the case (like the dilemma of super glue ) it is difficult to discern exactly what happened. However, the public seems to have mainly three theories:

Carlos Carrascosa killed María Marta. Much like the police, the public seems to hold the belief that Carrascosa was involved. There are two main theories surrounding the murder of his wife by Carrascosa. The first connects Carrascosa to a money laundering operation in which money was taken from one of the organizations with which María worked. María is believed to have discovered what he was doing and in an attempt to hide it from the public eye he killed her and the family helped cover up the crime in order to maintain the surname. The other theory is much simpler, claiming that a brawl took place and Carrascosa accidentally killed María, then asked the family to help cover the accident with similar concerns about the last name. . One piece of evidence that comes up often in the Carrascosa case is that when he called the doctor (not the police or emergency services, mind you) he said “someone had an accident” rather than ” my wife “or” María “or any other element that could indicate a personal connection with María (although he has been married to her for 31 years).

Nicolás Pachelo killed María Marta. Another suspect who emerged during the investigation was one of María’s neighbors. Pachelo came from a wealthy family and had a criminal record related to the theft. He first gave the police the alibi of having gone shopping with his mother; however, this was quickly denied by three witnesses who claimed to have seen him in Carmel and a video recording of him leaving the compound hours after the murder. It is believed that Pachelo may have learned of the large sum of money María was keeping for the organization she worked with and that an attempted theft ended up killing her.

Random theft degenerated into homicide. The latest theory, the one supported by the family, claims that María’s death was a random theft gone wrong. Despite the fact that even the cops cannot enter Carmel without the permission of a resident at the guards, who patrol the neighborhood 24/7, they believed that a thief had infiltrated the neighborhood and in the house and had been grabbed by Marta. In order to avoid getting caught, the thief or group of thieves shot him six times before escaping unnoticed.

With all the holes in every theory, the main question that remains is how we can determine what is true and what is not. Whether the family is involved or not, someone knows what happened that Sunday and they have been silent about it. Maybe one day we can finally see the skeletons inside those luxurious, oversized closets.

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