Officials have yet to determine cause of death in Valdez case
TEAS CITY, Texas – Relatives and friends surrounded Dee Garcia at her family home near Galveston, Texas, all of them baffled by the cause of her brother’s death in San Jose, Costa Rica, July 8.
Rob Valdez, 29, a former general manager at Ti Amo and a cook at the Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco, apparently died in the early-morning hours of July 7 at the Hotel Del Rey in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital.
“We have no news,” she said. “We’re just on hold. We’ve called them several times, and we still don’t know anything.”
One of the family’s theories is that Valdez won money at a casino and was subsequently robbed.
Garcia expressed dismay that her family didn’t even hear about Valdez’s death from the American Embassy, but from friends in South America.
Valdez worked as a cook at The Monkey Bar on Playa Hermosa, near the town of Jaca, an area popular with tourists and surfers. American Embassy officials in San Jose said they are only releasing information to Valdez’s father.
Initial reports said Valdez had fallen from the fourth floor of the neo-classic hotel in downtown San Jose. A second report indicated foul play might have been involved. Later, Garcia said, hotel personnel told her they’d found her brother dead in his second-story hotel room.
A San Jose newspaper reported that Valdez died of severe head trauma after falling about 100 feet and that authorities had spoken with at least one witness who claimed to have seen two armed men moving past the same window shortly before Valdez’s death.
Now, Garcia said, friends have told her Valdez had won money at the hotel’s casino and was returning to his room for the night. The family suspects he might have been robbed and killed.
“The story we got from the hotel was totally different from everything else we’d gotten,” Garcia said. “It sounded like a scam, like the hotel’s involved. It’s all too fishy.”
Embassy officials said an autopsy was conducted on the body in Costa Rica, but the family has yet to hear the results. Coroners in Texas cannot conduct a second one because the body had to be embalmed for transport. There was no indication that Valdez had been stabbed or shot, Garcia said, although he did have a black eye.
Valdez’s body was returned to the United States Saturday evening and was being prepared Monday for funeral services Tuesday. Officials at the American Embassy in San Jose said they are waiting for a “judicial report” to determine the details in the incident.
Friends raised $8,000 at a fundraiser at the Blue Spruce Monday evening. The money was spent to offset costs of bringing Valdez’s body back to the United States.
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