Suspect Roberto Barreda, who allegedly murdered his wife Cristina Siekavizza in Guatemala in 2011 and then disappeared with their two children, was arrested Friday in Merida, Mexico. Perhaps because he knows some English, Guatemalan news media had originally speculated he might have fled to the US.

As I wrote at the beginning of 2012, I became interested in the case because my former wife in Guatemala (who asked that her name not be used here) is a friend of Cristina’s relatives. My ex and Cristina’s brother Pablo notified me at the time that roughly 25,000 people were currently using social media to track down Barreda.

His arrest followed an anonymous tip to Fundación Sobrevivientes — which has been supporting Cristina’s family — from a man who had just seen a TV special on the case. Barreda was first sent to Mexico City for interrogation before being extradited to Guatemala.

BARRADA’S ARREST in the State of Yucatan was a joint effort by Mexican and Guatemalan law enforcement. Barreda (center) was wanted by Interpol, and the Guatemalan Interior Ministry had offered 50,000 quetzales (approximately $6,360) for information leading to his arrest. Yucatan Times photo

The couple’s children, Roberto José, 9, and María Mercedes, 6, had been with their father.

Cristina with Roberto and María (right).

Guatemalan President Pérez Molina told the press they are in good health.

He also said that Barreda had changed his hair color and hairstyle while on the lam.

In addition, Barreda had changed his name to Carlos Roberto Barreido Villarreal. He led the children to believe they were younger than they are and that their mother had run off with another man.

The murder is believed to have occurred on July 6, 2011, but Cristina Siekavizza’s body has never been found. Right after Cristina’s disappearance, however, Barreda and the children moved to his parents’ house. The family’s house worker said she saw a lot of blood in one room of the Barreda home and was told to clean it and to wash bloodied sheets.

The house worker (above) also told authorities she saw Barreda and his mother washing out his car and that the water was bloody. The mother had threatened the worker to keep silent about what she’d seen. Roberto’s mother, who is a former president of Guatemala’s Supreme Court, was subsequently jailed for 10 months. She has now been released but cannot leave the country. Photo from Fundación Sobrevivientes (Survivors Foundation)

“The house was cleaned with special liquids, but the chemical luminol, [which is used in police investigations], found blood stains,” my former wife writes. Blood was also found on the skylight of a balcony, where Cristina may have gone to call for help from neighbors — “which she did not get.”

For two years, protesters organized by Voces por Cristina have been marching to demand that authorities give serious attention to Cristina’s case.

Roberto Barreda in custody. Prensa Libre photo

My ex, who is a member of Voces por Cristina, writes, “Many women have said that after hearing about Cristina, they have gotten out of bad relationships where they were hurt in different ways.  Some say it has saved their lives and that of their kids.

“We have learned a lot.  A lot of [comments] have been posted on our [Voces por Cristina] web page, and it coincided with the creation of Feminicide and Violence against Women Courts.  So we feel this has raised awareness of a great problem in Guatemala.

Protestors in another Voces por Cristina march demanding that a transparent investigation be carried out and that justice be done.

“Cristina’s mother has said that if Cristina’s passing has saved lives, her death is not in vain,” my ex writes. “I have seen women coming to her, asking for help/guidance in their cases, while we have been out as a group.  She has directed them to Fundación Sobrevivientes. Some have returned to thank her for her help.”

“I saw a lady [who]…was able to get custody of her granddaughter because the foundation helped her,” my ex added. “The father had killed the wife and wanted to keep the little girl.  We need more of awareness and education, and I believe this situation has helped a lot.”

Roberto and María are reunited with their grandparents, Juan Luis Siekavizza and Angelis Molina. Guatemalan Interior Ministry photo

Meanwhile, the social media are still on the story. My former wife writes that people can keep up with the case in Facebook at Voces por Cristina.