IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — The Facebook page dedicated to the search for missing Mooresville teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrew said his body has been recovered in Mexico.
"It is with a sense of relief that we are able to confirm that Patrick's body has been recovered and we will be able to bring him home soon," the Sunday post read.
Woodlawn School, where Braxton-Andrew taught, canceled classes Friday after learning of his death.
The Facebook page said on Friday that Braxton-Andrew, a Spanish teacher and Davidson College graduate, died Oct. 28 at the hands of a criminal organization in Mexico.
Woodlawn School, where Braxton-Andrew taught, released the following statement:
"Out of respect and remembrance for Patrick, school will be closed on Friday, November 16. There will be counselors available on campus tomorrow, and walk-ins are welcomed. All athletic practices for today and tomorrow are canceled, and Woodlawn Night at Cornelius Drafthouse & Bottle Shop will be postponed.
"We are grateful for all that Patrick has brought to our Woodlawn family and are sending love to the Braxton-Andrews."
Since he was last seen on Oct. 28 in Urique, a tiny village in the country’s Chihuahua state, Braxton-Andrew’s family has been in Mexico working with local and U.S. authorities to locate him.
Chihuahua officials and Patrick Braxton-Andrew's family desperately searched for the missing backpacker for weeks. The family thanked the Chihuahua governor and attorney general for their "'unwavering commitment to locating Patrick."
On his official Facebook page, Javier Corral, the governor of Chihuahua, wrote that investigators believe Braxton-Andrew was killed by a narco-trafficker operating in the region named José Noriel Portilo Gil, also known as "El Chueco."
"Through the advances in the investigation, I can say that it was a cowardly and brutal assassination of a person who was totally innocent, a clean man whose misfortune was to cross paths with this criminal," Corral wrote.
Patrick's brother Kerry told Channel 9 the 34-year-old was last seen by a hotel employee in Urique, a remote town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The Mexico Daily News reported in January that 31 people died in seven hours there due to organized criminal activity.
The state government said in a statement Monday that searchers checked cabins in the area surrounding the village of Urique and rappelled down into 900-foot deep ravines looking for Braxton-Andrew.
Urique is a former mining village at the base of one of the many canyons that make up Mexico's Copper Canyon National Park.
According to the Washington Post, Braxton-Andrew was a fluent Spanish speaker who loved the language and had traveled widely in Central America and Mexico. He was originally scheduled to meet his brother in Mexico City on Oct. 30 after spending a few days hiking the Copper Canyon.
When he failed to show, his family began retracing his steps, eventually determining he was last seen leaving his hotel in Urique on Oct. 28.
The family said the search for Braxton-Andrew's body will continue, so he can return home.
The family said in a statement that "Patrick died doing what he loved -- traveling and meeting people. Join us in celebrating his life as he would want us to do. We will always remember Patrick and his joy for life. We love you PBA."
In his own statement on the shooting, Corral promised to bring the family solace.
"I have already experienced several hard and sad moments in my role as governor, and the one that I lived yesterday with Gary Braxton, the father of Patrick, informing him of the tragic event, has broken my heart," the official wrote.
"I also informed him and his beautiful family that not only are we going to find Patrick's body, but we are going to do him justice and deliver exemplary punishment to this delinquent and his gang, who have paradoxically, by acting with such cowardice, put an end to their influence and the control of that area under the Sinaloa cartel."
Corral reiterated on Sunday that Braxton-Andrew's murder at the hands of José Noriel Portillo Gil will not go unpunished.
"He will pay the price for what he has done," he warned in an interview with members of the media.
Once the finding of Patrick's body was confirmed, the governor announced that they will now focus on capturing the criminal who committed the crime, on whom several investigative cases are open.
"The operations for his location are conducted in coordination with the federal police, but we will also seek the support of all institutions to capture this criminal so that he pays the price for what he has done.”
He explained that Patrick's body was buried by his murderers, but the operation that the police authorities have in that region forced them to exhume it and then leave it on a dirt road near the town of Guapalayna, on the road that links Urique with the municipality of Batopilas.
"We have made the identification of the body and of course we have told the family. We are doing all the paperwork so once the forensic tests are done, we can deliver Patrick's body, take all the samples we need.”
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