Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Apr 7, 2017 / 01:27 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- The killer of an American woman who had been walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route has been found guilty and could face up to 25 years in prison. Miguel Angel Munoz, 41, ambushed and killed tourist Denise Pikka Thiem, from Phoenix, Arizona, around Easter Sunday 2015. Prosecutors maintained that Thiem lost her way because Munoz had planted a fake marker along the route to confuse pilgrims and tourists and lure them to his property, the New York Times reports.
The 40-year-old woman had quit her job to travel the world. She made her last social media posts on April 4, 2015 near Astorga in northwest Spain, Reuters says. She was last seen on April 5, Easter Sunday, one month after her arrival in Spain. That September, police found her body partly buried on Munoz’s property and arrested him. He initially confessed, then recanted and claimed he had only found her body. Thiem was found to have been beaten to death and her hands had been removed, The Telegraph reported. A jury found Munoz guilty of the crime on April 5. He was also convicted of stealing her belongings, including about $1,100 in cash.
In 2016 more than 270,000 pilgrims received a certificate for completing at least one stage of the official pilgrimage routes to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.