Mexico reports break in case of missing NY travel blogger

McClatchy Foreign StaffJuly 11, 2014 

— A sudden break has come in the case of a day trader who left a comfortable life in New York for a transcontinental motorcycle journey, only to go missing Jan. 25 in a deeply troubled region of Mexico.

Authorities have found the green Kawasaki motorcycle owned by Harry Devert, the 32-year-old adventurer from Pelham, N.Y. Beside the abandoned motorcycle were the remains of a body wrapped in a black plastic bag.

Ann Devert, the mother of the missing man, said by telephone that authorities took photographs of the motorcycle, including its vehicle identification number, or VIN.

"I had them send me an image of the VIN number and it’s the same VIN number as Harry’s Kawasaki," Devert said.

"The remains have been transported to a morgue in Zihuatanejo. I’ve heard word that the state of decomposition is about five months," she added.

Devert, who held both French and U.S. citizenships, was an adventurer who had already spent five years traveling through Europe and South Asia, keeping friends and followers apprised of his wanderings on anewyorkertravels.com One blog post begins like this: "I’m the owner of a big smile and a broad taste for adventure."

The last his girlfriend heard from Devert was on Jan. 25. He’d visited a monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacan state, home to a powerful organized crime group, and was headed to a beach on the Pacific coast where the final scene in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption" was filmed. The beach is in adjacent Guerrero state.

A statement from the Guerrero office of public security Friday morning said authorities found the abandoned motorcycle along a dirt road leading to La Majahua beach in the township of Union Isidoro Montes de Oca. The statement said authorities also found "10 packages of what appeared to be narcotics (marijuana and cocaine)" near the motorbike and body.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said issued a brief statement: "We are aware of the news reports that indicate a motorcycle and human remains were discovered in the state of Guerrero near the town of Lagunillas and are working closely with the authorities to get more information."

Devert’s mother said she’d gone to a police station in Pelham this afternoon to provide a DNA sample. Meanwhile, "the American Embassy has sent someone to get bone scrapings from the corpse to send to a laboratory in the States." The samples will be compared to see if there is a genetic match.

The mother praised the help she’s gotten from U.S. diplomats in Mexico.

"They’ve been great. Especially now that they’ve gotten something solid to go on," she told me.

Harry Devert was heading for Brazil on his lengthy motorcycle journey, hoping to catch part of the World Cup soccer tournament, which ends this Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. He was a "mega" fan, his mother noted. "He would come out of the jungle to see a game by Barcelona or Real Madrid," she said.

Devert said she believes the remains may be of her son but is holding out hope that a crime gang could have launched a "subterfuge" to delay a pending raid on a ranch known to hold kidnapping victims.

"I’m saying 55 (percent) that it is Harry, but I’m holding on to that 45 (percent)," she said.

Email: tjohnson@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @timjohnson4

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