As long as we have religions, we’ll have ways to celebrate and embrace them — and pilgrimages are always a viable option. But even with sacred connotations, a trip through one can go awry. That’s a grim lesson, but one spurred by the unhappy ending to a missing persons case — which left one man behind bars, and one woman dead.
Denise Thiem went from America all the way to Spain for a chance to walk the Camino de Santiago route, one of the most popular pilgrimages in the country. But that happened more than a year ago; now police are confident that her remains have been found, and once DNA tests prove as much, she’ll likely return to America for a proper burial. The suspected culprit won’t have such a happy ending, though. Miguel Ángel Muñoz Blas was arrested once the evidence piled up against him; that includes his conversion of a thousand American dollars into euros at a nearby bank, his shack where the remains were found, and a saw in his possession that had Thiem’s DNA on it.
It’s a grisly story, but efforts have been made to restore the route’s image. The police there have done their part to keep the crime rate low and the sheer number of pilgrims dissuades any law-breaking. Coupled with respect Camino de Santiago garners, we can at least hope that what happened to Thiem was pure happenstance — and that it never happens again.