Monday 9 December 2019

Big-hearted Miss Northern Ireland Rebekah Shirley has pledged to honour the memory of the South American beauty queen murdered just days before Miss World.

Big-hearted Miss Northern Ireland Rebekah Shirley has pledged to honour the memory of the South American beauty queen murdered just days before Miss World.

The killing of Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado and her sister Sofia has sent shockwaves through the competition.

Both women were shot and their bodies buried just days before Maria was due to join Rebekah and 130 other contestants in London for Miss World.

The Northern Ireland beauty queen learned of the killings as she prepared to take part in the global pageant.

"I was so shocked to hear the news about Miss Honduras and her sister," says Rebekah.

"It's such a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this very difficult time.

"Myself and the other contestants will be sure to keep her memory alive through our time at Miss World."

Competition organiser Julia Morley also paid tribute to the young women and said the Miss World organisation was "devastated by this terrible loss of two young women who were so full of life."

Danced

Maria's body was found with the remains of 23-year-old Sofia, buried near a river in the northern region of Honduras.

The sisters were last seen at a party at a nearby spa.

The beauty queen was reported missed, sparking a search for both women, when she failed to turn up for a dress fitting appointment last Sunday.

Sofia's boyfriend and an accomplice are being held in connection with both murders.

Police believe Plutarco Riaz killed her in a rage after she danced with another man and shot Maria twice in the back as she tried to flee.

Maria, who had career ambitions to become a diplomat, was crowned Miss Honduras in April. She worked as a model to help support her family.

Honduras, plagued by brutal drugs gangs, is one of the most violent countries in the world. The city of San Pedro Sula, 30 miles from the Santa Barbara region where the two sisters were killed, is the murder capital of the world with more than 1,200 violent deaths a year.

Irish Independent

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