Family believes American lawyer who died in Mexico was 'victim of a brutal crime'

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Family of OC man found dead in Mexico claims death was 'brutal crime'
An attorney for the family of an Orange County deputy public defender who died in Mexico while celebrating his first wedding anniversary released a statement Tuesday calling into question whether the lawyer was the victim of a "brutal crime'' or an accident.

MEXICO CITY and LONDON -- The family of an American tourist found dead in Mexico said Tuesday that they believe he "was the victim of a brutal crime."

California resident and Orange County public defender Elliot Blair died on Jan. 14 at Las Rocas Resort and Spa, located on the shores of Rosarito Beach, just south of Tijuana, along the western coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. While investigators initially believed that Blair died from a fall, there is a specific injury on his forehead "that would not have been caused by a fall," a local law enforcement official told ABC News on Monday.

The State Attorney General's Office of Baja California later released a statement saying an autopsy established that Blair's death "was the result of an unfortunate accident due to the fall of the deceased from a third floor." The office said the investigation is ongoing and that it is in contact with American authorities through the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, "who are collaborating and have the information about the investigation to provide it to the relatives who require it."

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When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles field office told ABC News on Tuesday that the agency, to their knowledge, has "no involvement."

Meanwhile, in a press release obtained by ABC News on Tuesday, an attorney for Blair's family said that Mexican authorities "still have not reached out to the family with this information."

"The family is devastated that since this incident, no one from the Rosarito Beach Police Department, their district attorney's office, or any other Mexican officials have reached out and spoken to them directly," the attorney said. "The only communication that the family has received has been through a liaison to the coroner's office."

The coroner's office liaison told Blair's family on Monday that "the cause of death was severe head trauma and that the case had been forwarded to the district attorney's office to conduct a possible homicide investigation," according to the attorney.

"The family informed the liaison that they would be conducting their own independent investigation, specifically hiring a private investigation firm, retaining an independent forensic pathologist to conduct a medical examination, including their own toxicology analysis," the attorney added.

The attorney said Blair was visiting Mexico with his "loving wife," Kim Williams, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. The couple was staying in a third-floor room at Las Rocas Resort and Spa, where they had stayed "on multiple occasions" over the past five years, according to the attorney.

The "incident" that led to Blair's death "occurred in an open-air walkway located outside the front door of their room," the attorney said. Blair was found in the t-shirt he wore to sleep, underwear and socks. He "was very familiar" with the hotel's layout, spoke Spanish fluently and "was not intoxicated at the time" of the incident, according to the attorney.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State told ABC News on Tuesday that they are aware of reports of the death of an American citizen in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. The State Department stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance, according to the spokesperson, who declined to comment further, citing respect to the family during this difficult time.

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A spokesperson for the State Attorney General's Office of Baja California told ABC News on Tuesday that Blair's body remains in Mexico. Investigators have conducted a second inspection of the hotel and sent the evidence to a laboratory, where the results are pending, according to the spokesperson.

The attorney for Blair's family said Mexican authorities have continually suggested that the body be cremated.

"Yesterday, during a conversation with the funeral home liaison, it was again suggested he be cremated and the family insisted his body not be cremated in order to conduct a thorough, complete, independent investigation," the attorney added.

Moreover, the attorney said that Blair's wife, also an Orange County public defender, "has been given multiple versions of what happened to Elliot," who was described in the press release as "a brilliant attorney with a bright future" as well as "a loving husband, son and brother."

"The family, which has extensive legal training in criminal law, wholeheartedly believes based on their initial investigation, that Elliot was the victim of a brutal crime," the attorney said. "Elliot's tragic, untimely, and suspicious death has left his family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired.

ABC News' Jennifer Leong contributed to this report.