A 22-year-old American who worked at a Baptist school in the small Chilean city of Temuco was found dead on Saturday in the bathroom of her apartment.
Authorities believe Erica Faith Hagan may have been murdered.
“Physical examinations show at least three lesions in her head,” Cristian Paredes, the local attorney, told the media on Sunday, according to the Chilean newspaper El Tiempo. He described the injuries as having “slashing-crushing” elements, adding that, “we’re likely to be facing a homicide.”
The police haven’t ruled out sexual assault.
The apartment she was found in, which belongs to the school, also had traces of a fire—possibly intended to erase evidence, police suggested.
Homicide investigator Hernán Solís told the press, “We’re still working at the scene. The assistance of the fire department was sought … to determine the cause and origin of the fire.”
Hagan, who graduated from Kentucky’s Georgetown College with a degree in psychology, grew up in Murray, in the western part of the state.
She minored in Spanish and had traveled to Chile once before being accepted to a teaching exchange program between Georgetown College and the Colegio Bautisto of Temuco, about 425 miles south of Santiago.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, both Georgetown College and Colegio Bautisto will suspend classes for several days.
Hagan wrote a blog called “¿Donde en el Mundo?” (“Where in the World?”). The last post, added the day before her body was discovered, was about culture shock, and she listed a few of the things she found disconcerting about Chile, including the residents’ breakfast habits and the way they point with their lips.
While she considered Chile’s physical beauty “God’s masterpiece,” nevertheless, she wrote, “I love my old Kentucky home.”
She was expected to return to the U.S. in December.
U.S. Consul Jeffrey Vick traveled to Temuco to make arrangement for the repatriation of Hagan's remains to Kentucky.
"These incidents, unfortunately, happen in every country," Vick said. "Our responsibility is to take care of our fellow citizens."
EFE contributed to this report.