According to local media reports, one witness claimed that Tinterova had argued with her partner, an as-yet-unidentified British national, earlier on Friday evening at their rental home near the village of La Salada in Jardín. After the quarrel, Tinterova allegedly went for a walk at night along a lonely road in the rural countryside.
The time of death was announced as being at about 7:35 p.m. She had suffered two gunshot wounds to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Colombia’s Publimetro newspaper. Apparently, her flickering flashlight lying nearby led neighbors to the scene of the crime.
In the wake of her death, Colombian media reports indicated Tinterova, originally from Prague, had planned to settle long-term in Colombia, although she did not yet speak fluent Spanish. Pictures of her, apparently lifted from her social media sites, have proliferated in the press. They show a vibrant young woman tragically cut down in the prime of life.
Publicly, Colombian officials have so far offered little but boilerplate statements and meaningless platitudes. Jardín police chief Gustavo Franco Gómez has told the press that Tinterova’s death was “shocking and regrettable” and that “the dead woman’s partner has been interviewed.”
But The Daily Beast has learned that Colombian authorities are in fact investigating two competing hypotheses for the homicide. One of these involves Tinterova’s domestic partner. According to local media, Tinterova travelled with her partner from the U.K. to the greater Medellín region for vacation about four weeks ago. After visiting other touristic sites such as Rionegro, the two of them reportedly rented a guesthouse called La Camelia in Jardín.
“Apparently there was an argument between them before [her death] occurred, and those circumstances generate some doubt,” said a Colombian national police official who agreed to speak to The Daily Beast under the condition of anonymity.
However, the official also said that no direct evidence linking Tinterova’s partner to the crime has been identified, and that the British tourist is cooperating with police and has provided “information that the authorities are taking into account in the development of the investigation.”
The Daily Beast’s efforts to reach the British tourist for an interview were unsuccessful by the time of publication.
The competing hypothesis is that the argument between the couple was merely “coincidental” and that Tinterova did indeed leave the couple’s rental home alone for a walk in the woods, at which point she was assailed by unknown individuals.
“So far the authorities have not clarified if it is a femicide committed by her British boyfriend, or if her death was the result of an attempted assault or kidnapping or robbery,” said Colombian security consultant John Marulanda in an interview with The Daily Beast. Marulanda, a former colonel with Colombia’s security forces, continues to work closely with law enforcement officials in the country.
“There is a heavy presence of members of the FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] in that same region. And members of the Gulf Cartel who travel through there. But normally these groups do not attack [tourists], so that remains to be verified,” Marulanda said.
There were two other tourists killed in Medellín this month, apparently in unrelated attacks. And in 2020, there were six foreign nationals murdered in the city, including North Americans, an Israeli, an Iranian, and a Japanese citizen, according to Marulanda.
“Currently there are about 150 cartels, gangs, and organized crime groups operating in Medellín,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations, told The Daily Beast. Vigil said such groups are notorious for narcotics and human trafficking, as well as conducting robberies and extortion. Vigil also said that under the specific circumstances, the fact that Tinterova was shot to death could point to a random assault, as opposed to a crime of passion.
“The boyfriend was also a foreigner and it would have been difficult for him to smuggle a gun into the country. To get one he would need to have criminal ties—and even then they would be hesitant to sell to a foreigner who could be DEA,” Vigil said.
The Colombian police official agreed with Vigil, saying that “it would not be easy for [Tinterova’s partner] to acquire a weapon so quickly,” after the couple had quarreled earlier in the evening.
In the rural Jardín region where Tinterova died, there have already been some 20 murders so far this year, Vigil said.