Terri Kelly, December 31, 1996

Three and a half years ago I said good-bye to my then 19-year old son, Patrick Sean Kelly, as he was beginning his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the Filmic Writing Program. He was excited about beginning his new life and viewed the future with an indomitable spirit of optimism. Seven months ago, on May 26, 1996, I went to Tijuana, Mexico to identify the badly battered body of that same vibrant and promising then 22-year old young man, his smile no longer there and his promising future destroyed.

I cannot imagine any more horrific experience than staring through dirty glass in a small, hostile, dark building, in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and where people are waiting impatiently for you to leave so they can go back to their dinner, and seeing the barely recognizable face of the child you raised and loved and watched grow and develop into a young adult. It's an experience you read about, watch movies about, but never expect to have to go through -- not being able to touch him, to hold him, to comfort him, to talk to him, to ask what happened, to tell him he's not alone any longer, to tell him you love him, to say good-bye.

My son was a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of California. I reported my son missing to the Canadian Embassies in Mexico, to Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa and to the LAPD and U.S. officials. During the weeks of searching, I never heard back from any of them.

After receiving no help from any official government or law enforcement agency, on May 12th I hired a private investigator. We finally discovered my son's badly battered body under a false name in a Tijuana morgue. All of his possessions were missing. We were given half-a-dozen different stories about how he died. All of the documents we were provided conflicted with each other on such basic issues as his physical description, his age, his name, how he came to be there, etc. We were given three different causes of death -- head trauma, multiple trauma, septic shock.

I contacted Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs after the results of a private autopsy which said he did not die the way the Mexicans said he died. They said there was nothing they could do. They said the case was Mexican jurisdiction. They also advised me that if I continued to push for answers, Mexican authorities would slur my son's name.

I wasn't concerned about such threats but I was concerned about why such threats were being made, why there was such a massive cover-up and why no one in the U.S., Canada or Mexico was prepared to meet their responsibilities to determine what happened to my son.

The LAPD finally agreed to do limited forensics work on my son's car and discovered what they said is "probably" blood spatters on the driver's side door. However, they refuse to test that blood to see if it is my son's. There is no evidence that my son's car ever left the State of California, yet they refuse to investigate the theft of his car from a California parking lot after my son was already dead.

My son's bank account was pillaged using his secret PIN number after he was already lying comatose in a hospital. Nobody is prepared to investigate those transactions. Video tapes exist at one of the Tijuana banks where the transactions occurred. No one is prepared to let me view those video tapes.

The L.A. Coroner's office finally agreed to conduct a private autopsy if I would pay for it. The autopsy stated that results found in the Mexican autopsy were inaccurate. My son did not have a ruptured spleen, his ribs were not broken, his skull was not fractured, he did not die of septic shock, he did not die of a subdural hematoma. In fact, the L.A. coroner agreed with the private autopsy that none of my son's injuries were fatal. I still don't know what in fact killed him.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission agreed to look into the case. They concluded that there was no investigation into my son's death, there was no "accident" scene investigation, there was no conclusive evidence that "Luis Rodriguez" was the same person as my son and that evidence was not preserved. They recommended a complete investigation be undertaken and that the police officers involved be censured. Since that report was issued, the author of the report has been appointed as Mexico's new Attorney General. To my knowledge, nothing has happened with the report's recommendations.

While nothing can ever make up for the loss of my son -- for the graduation this May I won't be going to, for the movies he would have made that I'll never see, for the grandchildren I'll never have, for the promise that will never be fulfilled -- I hope his death will at least have some effect on preventing others from going through the horrible, frightening and painful experience he undoubtedly went though. There are still no satisfactory answers as to how or why my son died. There is still no investigation into what happened to him or who cleaned out his bank account using his ATM card after he was already comatose or who took his car after he was already dead. The only thing I know for sure is that I no longer have my son and that corrupt Mexican authorities are at the very least involved in the cover-up of what happened to him. And U.S. and Canadian authorities are assisting in that cover-up by refusing to assist me in any way regarding the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of my son.

Terri Kelly

If you have any information, or wish to assist in putting pressure on Canadian and U.S. authorities for an investigation, please contact the writer at[email protected]
mail welcome


Let your thoughts and feelings be known to the authorities:


The Hon. Lloyd Axworthy
Foreign Affairs & International Trade
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0G2
[email protected]

Mr. David Kilgour
Deputy Speaker
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6
Fax: 403-495-2147

Ms. Janis Meadows
Director, Consular Operations
Department of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-995-9221

Mr. Randy White, M.P.
100A - 32660 Dahlstrom Avenue
Abbotsford, B.C., Canada V2T 4V6
Fax: 604-853-1026


President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon
Palacio Nacional
Patio de Honor, Pisol, Col. Centro
06067 Mexico City, DF
[email protected]

The Hon. Jorge Madrazo Cuellar
Attorney General
Government of Mexico
Mexico City, Republica de Mexico

Her Excellency Sandra Fuentes-Berain
Ambassador of Mexico to Canada
45 O'Connor Street, Suite 1500
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 1A4
Fax: 613-235-9123

Lic. Hector Teran Teran
Constitutional Governor of the State of Baja California
Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico


Governor Pete Wilson State of California 1st Floor, State Capital Sacramento,
CA 95814 Fax: 916-445-4633

Mr. Carlos Salinas
Amnesty International USA
304 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Fax: 202-546-7142

Mr. Carlton Jenkins
Founders National Bank
3910 West Martin Luther King Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Chief Willie L. Williams
Los Angeles Police Department
P.O. Box 30158
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Mr. Dan Lundgren
Attorney-General for the State of California
1300 I Street
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, California 94244-2550
Fax: 916-324-6734

Senator Diane Feinstein
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.
Fax: 202-228-3954
[email protected]


Senator Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.
Fax: 415-956-6701
[email protected]

President B. Clinton [email protected]

Vice-President Al Gore [email protected]

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW