The FBI and Mexican prosecutors have opened separate investigations this week into the mysterious death of a North Carolina woman, who went on vacation late last month with friends in Mexico and returned home in a bodybag.
Shanquella Robinson, a 25-year-old woman from Charlotte, traveled to the resort city of San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, on Oct. 28 with six friends to celebrate one of their birthdays. Less than 24 hours later she was found dead.
Three weeks later, Robinson’s family just wants answers. Thus far, they feel they've only been given the runaround by authorities and conflicting stories from her friends about what led to her death.
“They said she wasn’t feeling well. She had alcohol poisoning,” Robinson’s mother, Sallamondra, told WSOC-TV last week, recalling an anxious call she got from one of her daughter’s friends. “They couldn’t get a pulse. Each one of the people that was there with her was telling different stories.”
Things never added up to Sallamondra. She had just talked to her daughter on Friday evening, before her daughter was going to dinner with the group. Hours later, she was no longer alive.
"She said, 'Well, mother, I'm getting ready to eat,'" Sallamondra told ABC News. "I said, ‘Well, OK. Enjoy yourself. Have a good time. And I love you and I will talk to you tomorrow.’"
It wasn’t until Sallamondra received an autopsy report from the Mexican Secretariat of Health that the family learned Robinson had suffered a broken neck and a cracked spine. No mention of alcohol was included in the report. In a death certificate, obtained by Queens City News, Robinson's death was attributed to a “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation,” meaning that her first vertebra was loosened or detached from the base of her skull. The approximate time between injury and death was determined to be 15 minutes, the report noted. The certificate also stated that Robinson was found unconscious in the living room of a villa by a maid.
“I probably won’t be at ease until someone’s arrested,” Sallamondra told the outlet.
The group had stayed at a villa property listed on cabovillas.com. A spokesperson for the company told WJZY that the group had called for help from the company’s concierge, who enlisted a doctor to give Robinson CPR. She was pronounced dead at 3 p.m. that day.
“We are working diligently to determine the facts surrounding this incident, which is currently being investigated as an isolated criminal matter that happened involving guests at a private villa located in Los Cabos,” the spokesperson told Rolling Stone in a statement. “Additional information will be made available by local public safety authorities when the investigation is complete.”
The rest of the group returned from the trip without Robinson. Two weeks and $6,000 in transportation fees later, Robinson’s body was returned to the family.
On Tuesday, Gerald Jackson, a blogger in North Carolina, published video footage that he alleges shows a woman attacking Robinson. Robinson’s mother recognizes the other people in the video as the people on the trip with Robinson, and she believes it was captured on the trip to Cabo.
Jackson told the Daily Beast that the clip was sent to him by “someone who was in the room that sent it to an individual family member they are friends with.”
In the video, a woman appears to pummel Robinson with punches, as Robinson tries to get her balance. A voice off-camera tells Robinson to “At least fight back.”
“How could they do this to my baby?” Robinson’s father, Bernard, told the North Carolina Beat, Jackson’s website. “They all need to be in jail right now in Mexico, and they shouldn’t have been let go.”
Robinson’s sister, Quilla Long, said she "fell to her knees" when she first heard the news of her sister. She called the video of the attack “sickening.”
To date, no arrests have been made. The office of the North Carolina’s Attorney General told Yahoo News that it is not involved in the matter.
Robinson’s funeral is scheduled to take place on Nov. 19 in Charlotte. Long has created a GoFundMe to help the family cover legal fees and funeral expenses.
Bernard calls the ordeal a “nightmare” and promises to get to the bottom of what happened to his daughter.
“I can’t even sleep. I am just frustrated. My heart is just aching as a father. A praying man,” he told WSOC-TV. “I just want some truth, because this doesn’t add up right.”
“By the grace of God, I think I am going to get to the bottom of this. God ain’t gonna fail. It’s going to come out,” he said. “I’m not giving up. I am very confident that I am going to have peace of mind.”
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Family Handout (2))