TDoR 2017 / 2017 / February / 20 / Elizabeth Castillo

Elizabeth Castillo

Age 24

20 Feb 2017
San Luis Talpa, La Paz (El Salvador)

TDoR list ref: tgeu/20-Feb-2017/Elizabeth

Elizabeth Castillo
Elizabeth Castillo [photo:]

Elizabeth was kidnapped, tortured and murdered after going to the funerals of Daniela Rodríguez and Yasuri Orellana who had been murdered two days earlier. Her body was found with her feet and hands tied, and with wounds to her face and neck.

On February 19, 2017, two transgender women were killed with gunshot wounds to the neck and chest , from a black tinted car. The FGR details that the events occurred after the victims returned to their homes, after participating in the celebration of Friendship Day, in the center of the city of San Luis Talpa, La Paz.

The bodies were located by the security authorities, a few hours after the incident; and were identified as [deadname] Orellana and [deadname] Rodríguez, two trans women known as Yasuri and Daniela, respectively.

According to official data maintained by the FGR, Elizabeth Castillo was assassinated on February 21, after attending the funeral of Yasuri and Daniela, both correlatives of hers. Authorities reports identified her body, when she was recognized as [deadname] Artiga, 24 years old.

The article MS-13 Banished Trans Women From a Town and Murdered Those Who Stayed gives a heartbreaking insight into what happened:

MS-13's attack on the town’s trans women community began with a Valentine Day’s dance in the town square in 2017. Nube recalled in an interview with VICE World News that she wore a tight black tube dress for the Saturday night party and let her best friend Elizabeth Castillo do her hair and makeup.

The night of February 18, Nube and Elizabeth each had a drink of cheap alcohol and left for the central plaza. There, they waited in a corner for two other trans friends, Diana and Yasuri, to arrive. As the music played in the background, Nube grew restless. “If you want, stay here, but I'm going to dance," she said, describing the conversation four years ago. Elizabeth offered another drink to her friend and they began to dance.

Half an hour later, as Nube and Elizabeth were dancing, a burst of gunfire in the distance stopped the music. Diana and Yasuri had been walking to the party when three MS-13 gang members in a gray van shot them at point-blank range.

"They killed them! They killed them!" people shouted.

The following night, Elizabeth wanted to go to the wake for her two friends. Nube refused to accompany her because a rumor was already spreading that MS-13 wanted to kill them all. Elizabeth said goodbye and left alone in a motorcycle taxi.

She never arrived. Elizabeth disappeared that night and her body was found a day later on a dirt road on the outskirts of town, her hands and feet bound, showing signs of torture and blows to the face.

MS-13 had sent the message that it no longer wanted to see any more trans women in San Luis Talpa. Over the next two years, the 11 remaining trans women in San Luis Talpa fled one by one as the gang attacked, raped, and tortured them.

In July 2017 the authorities arrested several members of the MS-13 gang which allegedly killed Daniela, Yasuri and Elizabeth, and in February 2021 Aníbal Alfredo Melara Saravia, Edwin Geovanni Méndez Avilés and Carlos Antonio Molina Rivera were sentenced to 60, 66 and 60 years in prison respectively.

Report added: 1 Sep 2018. Last updated: 11 Sep 2022

Trigger warning

This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

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