It should have been the perfect escape from two gruelling years of the pandemic, but Katherine Miskena’s retreat at a tranquil farm called El Suspiro—which translates as The Sigh—ended in disaster.
The Russian woman, 33, was staying at the rental property in Colombia’s northern Santander province with her boyfriend and a mysterious German tourist.
On the evening of Dec. 18, police found her partly submerged body on the banks of a river near the remote village of Guaré, which is close to the farm.
The officers had been alerted by Miguel Ángel Pérez, Miskena’s boyfriend. The Colombian national was admitted to a hospital in the town of Mogotes—about 90 minutes from Guaré—on Saturday with wounds to his face and skull caused by blunt-force trauma from a knife, according to a police report leaked anonymously to The Daily Beast.
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Local press reports indicate Pérez, 30, told police that he and Miskena had been attacked by a German man, Patrick Khenglawt, who was staying on the farm with them. Pérez said the assault had occurred at about 7:30 p.m. that same evening. After making his statement, Pérez was immediately transferred to the larger Manuela Beltrán del Socorro Hospital, where he remains hospitalized due to the serious nature of his wounds.
When police searched the woods around the outskirts of Guaré they found Khenglawt not far from Miskena’s body and took him into custody. Khenglawt was then interrogated and received medical attention for “scratches” to his face—lacerations apparently inflicted by the victim as she struggled for her life.
Colonel Wilson Parada, the police commander for the Santander region, said Meskina’s cause of death appeared to be strangulation, reported Colombian news outlet Caracol, but a formal autopsy is still pending.
One working hypothesis is that “the incident was triggered by the consumption of home-made liquor and narcotics” by the farm’s residents. While intoxicated, Khenglawt may have made an “insinuation towards the female” which led to him “coming to blows with the [other] residents” and thus “triggering the current situation,” according to the leaked report.
The police report also indicates the farm was in an area “without mobile [phone] signal” which might explain why the victims did not call for help and authorities were not alerted until Pérez showed up at the hospital in Mogotes.
Despite Pérez’s eyewitness testimony, Parada said he was in no rush to file formal charges against Khenglawt, saying that, “the Santander police department [is] carrying out the pertinent investigative and judicial activities, to clarify and locate the person responsible for this action…”
Although he did not go so far as to publicly call Khenglawt a murderer, Mogotes mayor Higinio Rueda Triana did publicly state that none of his own constituents were responsible for Miskena’s death.
“I want to tell you that there is no Mogotano involved,” said Triana, as quoted in the Colombian news outlet Vanguardia. “That is what we want to tell the community and clarify the facts.”
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Triana also said that neighbors in the area had reported previous domestic disturbances at the farm, where Miskena and Pérez had been living for several months before Khenglawt arrived.
“The community has stated that these foreigners who lived on the farm had had several difficulties of coexistence,” Triana said, and indicated that previous complaints had been lodged with the police prior to last Saturday’s tragedy.
“We regret these facts that occur in our municipality and we really call on all foreigners to behave in our territory,” Triana said.
The Russian embassy did not respond to questions in time for publication.
An incident similar to the Miskena case occurred last September in the neighboring province of Antioquia, when a 25-year-old Czech tourist, Anna Tenterova, was found murdered near a rented farmhouse she shared with a British man.
At least 18 tourists have been murdered in Antioquia’s Medellín district so far this year, making it one of the most dangerous parts of the country for foreign visitors.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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