MEXICO CITY – Wild dogs killed and mauled four people whose bodies were found over the past two weeks in a park on the edge of Mexico City, authorities confirmed Monday. In one case, a teenage girl frantically called her sister with her cellphone to plead for help as the attack took place.
Neighbors of the Cerro de la Estrella, a partly wooded, hilltop park surrounded by the city's poor and populous Iztapalapa district, found the bodies of a 26-year-old woman and a 1-year-old child in the area on Dec. 29, authorities in Mexico's capital said.
One of the victims, Shunashi Mendoza, was missing her left arm, and prosecutors said that both she and the boy had bled to death and been partially eaten.
Then on Friday visitors to the same park found the bodies of a teenage couple who had also bled to death.
"Experts have established that due to the gravity of the wounds, at least 10 dogs were involved in each attack," Mexico City prosecutors said in a statement.
Alejandra Ruiz, 15, and her boyfriend Samuel Martinez, 16, had gone to the park Friday afternoon.
The girl called her sister Diana Ruiz at around 7 p.m. pleading for help.
"Several dogs are attacking us, help me!" the girl screamed. The call then dropped.
Ruiz told Milenio Television she thought her sister was joking and she still doesn't believe her sister was killed by dogs despite the call.
"What kind of dog can tear the skin from your whole arm and leave just bone and if it was an attack dog why didn't it attack her neck?" Ruiz asked. "What's most shocking is that one of her breasts was mutilated."
She said she later visited the place of the attack and saw no pools of blood. "There needs to be a thorough investigation," she added.
Mexico City Public Safety Secretary Jesus Rodriguez warned against visiting the park and said all the dogs in the area will be trapped and checked to see if they were involved.
At least 100 police officers were scouring in search of wild dogs. They had trapped 25 dogs by Monday night, including 10 females, eight males and seven puppies. The animals had been living in caves and crevices in the park, prosecutors said.
Local newspapers published photos of the dogs. Several look like domestic pets, suggesting the dogs were abandoned animals or their offspring who had formed a pack or packs in the hilltop park.
Experts are testing the dogs' hair for traces of human blood and will also test their stomach contents, authorities said.
Packs of stray dogs roam the streets of parts of Iztapalapa, a massive and poor district on the eastern outskirts of Mexico City. Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather each Holy week in the Cerro de la Estrella park to watch a reenactment of the mock crucifixion of Christ.