Woman Stalks Her Daughter’s Killers, One By One

Miriam Rodríguez clutched a pistol in her purse as she ran past the morning crowds on the bridge to Texas. She glanced at the photo of her next target: the florist. She had been hunting him for a year, stalking him online, interrogating criminals he worked with, even befriending unwitting relatives for tips on his whereabouts. Now, she finally had one — a widow called to tell her that he was peddling flowers on the border. 


Since 2014, Rodríguez had been tracking the people responsible for the kidnapping and murder of her 20-year-old daughter Karen. Half of them were already in prison — not because authorities cracked the case, but because Rodríguez had pursued them on her own with a meticulous abandon. She cut her hair, dyed it, and disguised herself as a pollster, a health worker, and an election official to get their names and addresses. She wrote everything down and stuffed it into her black computer bag, building her investigation and tracking them down, one by one. Now she was about to round up one of the remaining fugitives. She scoured the vendors for flower carts, but that day he was selling sunglasses instead. When Rodríguez finally spotted him, he recognized her and ran. He sprinted along the narrow pedestrian pass, but 56-year-old Rodríguez was hot on his trail. She finally managed to grab him by the shirt and wrestle him to the rails. She jammed her gun into his back. “If you move, I’ll shoot you,” she told him. She held him for nearly an hour until police arrived and made the arrest. In three years, Rodríguez had captured nearly every member of the crew that had abducted her daughter for ransom. In all, she was instrumental in taking down 10 people. She asked the government for armed guards, fearing the cartel had finally had enough. The police said they sent periodic patrols by her home and work. 


On Mother’s Day in 2017, weeks after she had chased down one of her last targets, she was shot in front of her home and killed. Her husband, inside watching television, found her face down on the street, hand tucked inside her purse, next to her pistol. In solidarity with her, protesters raised their voices in protest the day she was killed, calling on the Mexican and U.S. governments to ensure the safety of human rights defenders. To date, her killers have never been found.