Family say British backpacker whose naked body was found on mountainside in Guatemala could have been killed in accident after ‘shedding clothing as she went to see the sunrise’
- Catherine Shaw’s naked corpse was found on a mountain close to Lake Atitlan
- The backpacker went missing last Tuesday after heading to watch the sunrise
- Local media have claimed Miss Shaw may have been murdered or raped
- But the family say she may have collapsed on the rocks as she had been fasting
The family of Catherine Shaw have said she may have died in an accident after her naked body was discovered on the side of a Guatemalan mountain on Sunday.
The 23-year-old disappeared in the early hours of last Tuesday, carrying a stray grey and white puppy as she hiked into the mountains over Lake Atitlan.
But her family have refuted claims by local media that she was raped and murdered, saying she had been fasting for days and may have fallen due to her weakness.
They have cast doubt over the sinister claims of an alleged leaked police report which mentioned ‘blows to her body’ which was found near a perilous rocky path.
The body of missing British tourist Catherine Shaw (pictured), 23, was found on Sunday in Guatemala, local police have confirmed
In footage shared with the Mail by the hotel’s owner, Miss Shaw can be seen in a long purple dress standing in a communal café area
In a statement by the Lucie Blackman Trust said: ‘She was very much a nature lover and adored sunrises, so it seems quite conceivable that she went up the mountain to greet the sunrise, shedding clothing as she went, and due to her lack of intake of food and fluid may have passed out or fallen, causing the wounds to her body.
‘Whilst of course at this stage we do not know the full facts, and cannot rule anything out until we do, it is wrong to assume and of course confirm that she was raped and murdered by a mystery assailant when such facts are not evident.’
It is understood Miss Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire, was discovered in a cavern close to the trail, two miles from her hostel in the village of San Juan La Laguna.
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Local mayor Antonio Chavajay said: ‘I’d like to thank the community for coming together. They found the body near the dog, the dog was the evidence of where she was. It is not known how she died. She was found in a very rocky area.’
A Ministry official also said police had designated a team to carry out a ‘criminal investigation’ to see ‘who could be involved in this deplorable incident’, although there was no immediate confirmation investigators were sure any foul play had occurred.
Miss Shaw had been fasting and had stopped washing in the days before she vanished.
Miss Shaw’s parents had earlier said they were ‘desperately worried’ for her.
Former yoga teacher Miss Shaw was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am last Tuesday leaving the hostel, clutching the dog
The scene of the mountain overlooking the Lake Atitlan near where Miss Shaw’s body was found
A search party spent hours searching for Miss Shaw until her body was found near a perilous rocky path
Volunteers searched for Miss Shaw who went missing 36 hours after she checked into a hotel in the village of San Juan la Laguna
Former yoga teacher Miss Shaw was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am last Tuesday leaving the hostel, clutching the dog.
On Sunday evening, a search party organised by volunteers and joined by locals, expats and police officers, found her distinctive jacket.
It was discovered two miles from her hostel and 45 minutes on foot up the trail through dense woods.
The woollen pink and cream jacket was found among leaves near a line of avocado trees on the hiking trail near a peak known as ‘Indian Nose’.
Before the body was found, Paco Rosales, who had travelled to Guatemala from Mexico to help find his friend, said he immediately recognised the coat.
The puppy, which Miss Shaw had been carrying around in the days before her disappearance, was discovered in another spot at the top of the mountain on Friday.
The wooded hiking spot where searchers believe Miss Shaw may have gone to watch the sunrise involves climbing extremely rocky terrain for around an hour
A search party found a distinctive jacket belonging to Miss Shaw, who is originally from Witney in Oxfordshire
‘The puppy was OK, a little undernourished and crying a lot,’ said Amy Farrow, 37, an American former paramedic who had been helping the search.
Meanwhile, the owner of the hostel where Miss Shaw was last seen claimed the young backpacker had given cookies laced with cannabis to guests.
The boss of Eco Hotel Mayachik claimed she herself had fallen ill and had nightmares and hallucinations after trying the biscuits.
The Austrian woman, who did not want to be named, said: ‘They came and put a box of cookies on the bar and said: “Everyone, have some.” I tasted two and an hour later, I was completely under [the influence of] drugs. I think these cookies had drugs in them.’
Her father Tarquin, pictured, landed in the Central American country after his daughter went missing
Miss Shaw, a former yoga teacher, was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am on Tuesday morning leaving the budget hotel where she was staying
Miss Shaw’s friend Paco Rosales, who shared this post on Facebook, said he immediately recognised the coat – and burst into tears when he was shown a picture of the item
After the alleged incident the woman claims she told Miss Shaw to leave, adding: ‘I confronted her. She said: ‘It’s just love. It’s just nature.’ The hotel has a strict no-drugs policy.’
Police are understood to be investigating the claims but have been unable to find a cookie to test.
CCTV shows Miss Shaw placing a plastic box at the hostel reception, wearing a long flowing dress at about 1.30pm on the Sunday.
Later footage, taken in the early hours of the following morning, around 1.30am, shows her walking out of the hostel with a large drum known as a Hang, on her back.
Although it had initially been thought Miss Shaw never returned to the hostel, a clip at 3.30am shows her in a hammock outside her room. She is seen leaving again at around 5.30am.
The owner added: ‘My opinion is that she was completely lost and completely on drugs. She didn’t know what she was doing. She did things a normal person would not do at all.’
Miss Shaw’s friend Mr Rosales, 35, said of the jacket: ‘It was one of her favourite items of clothing. It was really warm, that’s why she always kept it.’
It was ‘so normal’ for Miss Shaw to set off at 5.30am to watch the sunrise, he noted, adding that the pair had regularly done this.
Miss Shaw began her trip last September, visiting the US and Mexico before travelling to Guatemala in recent weeks.
In an online post two weeks ago, she described having the ‘most magically spiritual week of my journey so far’ following a visit to a nudist festival in Oaxaca, Mexico.
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