A San Diego mother says the body of her teenage son has been recovered in Tijuana, Mexico nearly two years after he was kidnapped.
In May of 2020, photos show 19-year-old Miguel Rendon after he crossed into Tijuana to see his mother, who was living there at the time. More than two weeks later, his mother, Emma Medrano Gallardo says he returned to Mexico to visit his girlfriend and surprise his mother.
Around midnight local time that night, Medrano got a chilling phone call.
“In Spanish, they said, ‘Lady, we have your son. We need this much money,’” she said. She listened in disbelief until a follow-up video call confirmed her son had been kidnapped and beaten.
“My heart just almost stopped,” said Medrano. “He was tied up and bloody with his face. He could barely talk.”
The next day, her ex-husband handed over ransom money at the Tijuana border, and she was directed to wait at another location for her son.
“It was horrible. Every minute, it was like days,” said Medrano. She waited for some six hours, but no one showed up. For Medrano, it began a lasting heartbreak.
“Hoping every day to get a phone call, but we never did,” she said, becoming emotional.
She reported the abduction to Mexican authorities and the FBI. With the help of nonprofit groups, she was able to lead dozens of searches for her son.
Then a few weeks ago, she says the FBI informed her that Miguel’s body had been recovered in Tijuana, with few other details.
"That moment, it was like, my hope is gone, but it was like a relief, finally. I will get to have him back and know where he is.” said Medrano.
Medrano says she still doesn't know why her son, an athlete and a senior in high school, was targeted.
“He was always smiling, funny. He had learning disabilities and was a special education student, but he had goals, and now he won’t get to live his life,” said Medrano. “Hopefully there is justice, so they don't get to do this to anyone else or other kids.”
Miguel was supposed to graduate that spring and planned on enlisting in the Marines.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help the family with funeral expenses.
The FBI declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.