An autopsy has confirmed that the remains of a body found earlier this month in Vilarino, near Bahía Blanca, belong to Facundo Astudillo Castro, the missing 22-year-old who was last seen alive on April 30.
Multiple news reports on Monday said that confirmation was given by a source close to the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), who led the autopsy on the body at their headquarters at the ex-ESMA Navy Mechanics School.
While the remains have now been identified, the date and cause of death are still yet to be established and will require more time, the reports added.
However, on Tuesday, Bahia Blanca federal judge María Gabriela Marrón denied the official results were ready and said they would only be known officially on Wednesday.
The skeletal remains, which were described as “incomplete” (i.e. not a full body), were discovered by fishermen on the bed of a waterway known as “Bahía de Ballenas,” located between the Buenos Aires Province towns of General Daniel Cerri and Villarino, around 10 kilometers from Bahía Blanca, on August 15.
According to reports, the remains were found half-buried and in an advanced state of decomposition. A shoe, believed to be Facundo’s, was also found nearby, within a few metres.
Cristina Castro, Facundo’s mother, said last week that she was convinced that the remains belonged to her son. She has repeatedly said that she believes provincial police officers played a role in his death and, during meetings with President Alberto Fernández and Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof, has called for a full investigation into her son’s disappearance.
Buenos Aires Province Security Minister Sergio Berni, who has come under criticism from the family for public comments on the case, also said last week that it was “probable” that the remains belonged to the missing 22-year-old.
Castro was last seen alive on April 30 in Villarino, after having been stopped by police for breaking the lockdown imposed to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. He had departed from his home in Pedro Luro and was reportedly hitchhiking on his way to Bahía Blanca to see his former partner, though he never arrived at his destination.
Provincial police say the young man was intercepted and cautioned by officers from the Mayor Buratovich police station for breaching the government-ordered lockdown put in place to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 in the country, though he later went free.
A livestock farmer in the region came forward after Castro's disappearance, saying she had given the youth a lift in the direction of Bahía Blanca, before dropping him off along the way.
The area in which the remains were found had been previously searched by police officers, according to local news agencies.