Disappearance of Tom Marsh: Previous discussion with student is key edge in investigation

Disappearance of Tom Marsh: Previous discussion with student is key edge in investigation
Disappearance of Tom Marsh: Previous discussion with student is key edge in investigation

This Tuesday marks exactly 11 days since the disappearance of British astronomer Thomas Richard Marsh, 61, who was last seen at the La Silla Observatory in the commune of La Higuera.

Let us remember that the search by Carabineros, the Investigative Police, Army personnel, in close collaboration with the Presidential Delegation and Onemi has continued. In addition, contact with the European Southern Observatory (the organization that leads La Silla) has also been maintained.

Last week, on the way between the NTT telescope, where Marsh works, the keys to his room were found.

Likewise, the authority provided important new information related to the doctoral student who traveled with the astrophysicist to the country. According to the regional prosecutor, Adrián Vega, both arrived in Chile on September 14, two days before the disappearance of Tom Marsh.

However, there is another relevant fact: according to sources from the newspaper El Día, the student was interviewed by Carabineros, the Investigative Police and the Prosecutor’s Office. He would be able to leave the country beyond the collaboration that he already provided to the authorities.

Along these lines, the persecutor Vega told our media that “there is no possibility of rooting a person and preventing him from leaving the country if he is not formalized. The student has not been formalized.

One day before the astrophysicist’s disappearance, the last person who spoke with him was precisely the first-year doctoral student. Let us remember that it was not the first time that Marsh traveled to the La Silla Observatory, and it was not unprecedented for him to do so with a student from the University of Warwick.

According to sources from the newspaper El Día, there would have been a discussion between the astronomer and his pupil, a precedent that is also handled by the authorities.

This edge is added to all the lines of investigation carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office. Let us remember that the prosecutor Adrián Vega maintained that “we do not rule out any possibility and the possible theories remain open.”

Regarding the means deployed in the search for Thomas Marsh, prosecutor Vega assured that “a job has been done with Gope, PDI, Onemi and the Chilean Army, combing all the surrounding sectors, ruling out some areas of interest. On the other hand, and having mapped a large part of the sector, the search has been focused on more obvious sectors for a walk. Certain indications of the passage of people through those places have been found. Therefore, the search has been focused on foot and supported by technological means to identify these clues.”

The persecutor pointed out that “in the next few days we hope to advance throughout the land until it is necessary to rule out the path of the walk.”

However, the authority stressed that “there are no indications that make us think that he is not alive. Because we are looking for a living and missing person, with all the means at our disposal, in order to give peace of mind to the family. We are in permanent contact with them.”

From the Prosecutor’s Office they assured our media that a search period cannot be precisely defined, this considering the clues that may exist, the times of the entities involved and the new proceedings that could be ordered by the Public Ministry. However, even if the search could be called off, the case can still be kept open.

The former prosecutor and criminal lawyer, Pedro Orthusteguy, assured El Día that “the causes of alleged misfortunes are just that, undefined situations in which we do not know the reasons why a person has disappeared and we anticipate the eventuality of a possible crime. The search term is related to the survival times of the human being in the terrain and meteorological conditions. For example, the search at sea is different than on land, the same at height as at low height levels”.

The chief prosecutor of La Serena, Carlos Vidal, ratified this thesis. “One thing is the deadlines that the institutions have to be able to provide a certain level of help and another thing is the investigation that is being carried out, which is extended due to the need to investigate a possible punishable act.”

The presidential delegate, Rubén Quezada, yesterday updated the work that has been carried out and held a meeting with Onemi to continue coordinating the search.

It should be noted that there are personnel on the ground, support from canine units, Army relief patrols, aerial surveillance with drones from the Presidential Delegation and the PDI, and a Carabineros lookout plane, which allows information to be collected, centralized and sent to the Prosecutor’s Office.

“The terrain is a difficult place. It is a vast area and it is difficult to fly over it. In addition, we have from the Chilean Meteorological Directorate the warning of electrical storms in the foothills sector, to the north of the region, which is why Onemi issued a preventive alert to take greater precautions. But we are seeing the progress of the investigation and willing to collaborate to make it more effective. The worst thing that can happen to us is to act in an uncoordinated manner,” said delegate Quezada. Likewise, he assured that the search proceedings will continue, considering the special conditions of the place, until the Public Ministry deems it pertinent.

The article is in Spanish

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