Suicide, assault allegations stun border agent's family

By Alicia A. Caldwell

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 17 2014 7:12 a.m. MDT

The federal law enforcement official and a border patrol agent who helped in the search for the missing girl told the AP previously that the woman was spotted on a border camera shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday. Agents made it to the area within about 10 minutes and started searching for the teenagers. Both the official and the agent spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the case being investigated by the FBI.

Esteban Manzanares' day shift was ending as the search started. If he had his radio on as he left the border, he likely would have heard his colleagues start the search for him and the missing girl.

Investigators narrowed in on Manzanares hours later after finding blood and remnants of duct tape inside the vehicle he had been assigned for that day's shift, the federal law enforcement official said.

As authorities approached his apartment sometime after midnight Thursday they heard a gunshot.

Since the attack the women have received medical attention for what the law enforcement official described this week as non-life threatening injuries. Their exact whereabouts have not been released, but ICE said Friday the group was not in its custody.

Their future remains uncertain. Immigrant victims of crime can be eligible for a special visa that allows them to stay in the country to help authorities investigate a crime.

Bryan Johnson, an immigration attorney in New York, said the teens may also be eligible for green cards, depending on the circumstances of their home life in Honduras.

After the attack, the new Customs and Border Protection commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, apologized for the incident.

"I want you to know that I consider these actions, if true, to be reprehensible and I know they are not representative of the agents of the U.S. Border Patrol," Kerlikowske said. "I am deeply sorry that this incident occurred and am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent incidents like this from occurring again."

Susana Manzanares' sister, Nelly Ceniceros, said the family just wants to know what happened.

"We want the truth, even if the truth is something my sister and I and everybody else doesn't want to hear," said Ceniceros, an Army soldier who drove to the Rio Grande Valley from El Paso, Texas, after hearing about her former brother-in-law's death.

Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela. Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap

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