Friend critical of police efforts to solve killing

Mexican officials 'did nothing for us,' travelling companion of slain teen says

Mexican police say their investigation into the recent death of a Canadian teen has focused on two possibilities: a hit-and-run or a beating that occurred after he danced with a local woman.

Adam DePrisco, 19, suffered fatal head injuries early Sunday morning after leaving a popular nightclub perched on the hills of Acapulco. The Woodbridge man was attacked three days into a two-week holiday with his best friend, Marco Calabro.

Mr. Calabro, 19, returned from Acapulco yesterday -- angry at Mexican police who he says haven't done enough to find who killed his friend, and how.

"They did nothing for us," he said, standing outside a Woodbridge home where his slain friend's large family had gathered to mourn.

The case has put another stain on Mexico's reputation as a safe holiday haven for Canadians, less than a year after Nancy and Domenic Ianeiro, also from the suburb north of Toronto, were slain in their Cancun-area hotel room.

Mr. Calabro said he and Mr. DePrisco headed to the Palladium, a popular nightclub for locals and tourists, just after midnight on Saturday.

Around 2:30 a.m., Mr. Calabro said another friend told him that Mr. DePrisco was being kicked out. He said Mr. DePrisco had been talking to a woman when another man became upset.

Mr. Calabro went outside, but couldn't find Mr. DePrisco. He hopped into a taxi and started for their hotel. Along the way, he saw a crowd gathered around a man with a bloodied head lying on the road, about 100 metres from the club.

"It was dark outside and I wouldn't believe it was him. That wouldn't make no sense," he said.

Without any sign of Mr. DePrisco at the hotel, Mr. Calabro rushed back to the club.

"The body was gone. They were cleaning up the evidence on the road," he said. A truck with a high-pressure hose was washing away the blood, and he noticed people throwing items over the hill, he said.

He believes his friend was beaten to death by local men.

"It was a setup," he said. "I don't know if it was a setup to kill him, but it was a setup to rob him."

Mr. DePrisco was taken off life support on Tuesday -- the same day that Mexican police contacted Mr. Calabro for the first time, he said.

Mexican police say they are still investigating, and an autopsy is planned.

"We really don't know what happened or how he died," said Victor Hernandez-Maldonado, investigator for the district attorney in Acapulco.

"The doctor who attended him at El Privado Pacifico hospital said he was hit by a car. We are investigating whether this is true." Police are also looking into "a situation at the disco" involving a woman who danced with Mr. DePrisco, he said.

Palladium general manager Oscar Bustos said he had heard that a patron was hit by a car on Saturday night. Now, after reading Canadian media reports referring to an alleged altercation, he plans to interview his staff.

"We want to know what happened," Mr. Bustos said.

Yesterday in Woodbridge, Mr. DePrisco's family gathered to mourn the graduate of Holy Cross Catholic Academy High School. They said he worked two jobs -- painting during the day with his father, Benny, and clearing restaurant tables at night -- to save for the trip.

"I want them to try and find out any possible way of who did it, because they deserve to die," said Mr. DePrisco's older brother, Tony.

He said Canadians should think twice about travelling to Mexico, and the Canadian government should pressure Mexican police to find out what happened.

The case highlights the Conservative government's inability to protect Canadians abroad, Toronto Liberal MP Dan McTeague said.

"I think we need to move heaven and Earth in order to express in no uncertain terms that we take this case very seriously, that we would like to collaborate or offer our investigative services," Mr. McTeague said.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman said consular officials are assisting the family but there's little more they can do.

"For now, it is the responsibility of the local authorities," Alain Cacchione said.

Mr. DePrisco's body is expected to arrive in Toronto tomorrow. In accordance with the family's wishes, a second autopsy will be conducted.

"We are taking possession of the body and will be doing the autopsy here in Toronto," said Barry McLellan, chief coroner of Ontario.

In the past five years, 13 Canadians have been slain in Mexico, Foreign Affairs officials said.