Police say the Venezuelan man accused of murdering a 79-year-old U.S. expat was involved in an argument with the victim the day before her death. The body of Nancy Bradbury Thalmann, a Houston, Texas native, was discovered Sunday morning in the bedroom of her home in the gated Colinas Challuabamba community east of Cuenca.
According to Azuay prosecutor Leornado Amoroso, the suspect Alfredo R., 26, offered his gardening services to Thalmann and became angry when she refused them. “We continue to gather information but it appears that the suspect disabled the alarm system at the Thalmann home after the arbument and returned later to commit the murder,” he said. Alfredo R. was arrested Sunday night in El Oro Province as he attempted to cross the Peruvian border.
Amoroso said that Thalmann was bound and gagged with duct tape with preliminary information listing the cause of death as strangulation. It is believed the murder was committed Saturday night. Thalmann’s body was found Sunday morning by her husband, who shares an adjoining bedroom, when she did not come downstairs for breakfast.
Despite the Thalmann murder, police say that Cuenca is on track to record its lowest murder rate in recent history. National police report that 14 murders have been recorded in 2019, three below the 2018 total. “This could change, of course, since there are two more weeks in the year, but the statistics speak well of the job that police have done in Cuenca and in Azuay Province,” says Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez. “The trend has been down for more than a decade as a result of the excellent patrol and forensic work conducted by our officers.” He added that Cuenca ranks among the top five cities in Latin America with populations above 500,000 for lowest murder rate.