The man who killed an American tourist who was walking one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage routes, this one located in Spain, has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Twenty years were for her killing, and the additional three for stealing over $1,000 from her after he had committed her murder.
According to The Telegraph, 41-year-old Miguel Angel Munoz, of Spain, was found guilty back on April 5 after being convicted by a jury of his peers, of beating Denise Pikka Thiem so savagely that she succumbed to her injuries before he hid her body. Thiem, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, was also 41. She died from serious brain injuries, which were caused by Munoz attacking her repeatedly. He also is said to have cut off her hands.
The American woman had been diverted from the Spain pilgrimage trail by misleading markers set up by her killer, which did not continue onto the route but rather took travelers to a location near his house, reveals U.S. News. Although her murder took place in April of 2015, Munoz was not placed under arrested until five months later, at which time he complied with police and led them to where he buried the body.
Yahoo! 7 reports that Thiem left the trail intentionally, believing that this alternate path would lead her to Spain’s Leon province, where a village she wanted to visit is located. Those who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail either travel with a guide, or are permitted to get to their destination unassisted. Due to Thiem’s plans to visit this village, it is believed that she opted to not have a guide.
It is not known at this time whether she had a credencial, or pilgrim’s passport, which provides travelers access to overnight accommodation which ranges from very inexpensive to even free. A St. James stamp is added to the passport each time the tourist or resident stays in a certain town, or refugio. The reason behind this is so that said pilgrim can prove to the head office in Santiago that they completed the route through the necessary avenues, and as such they are provided with an official certificate, a compostela, of their journey.
The number of people taking part in Spain’s Camino de Santiago has officially been in the hundreds of thousands since 2006, when it jumped over 6,400 individuals from the previous year. Technically, in 2004 a total of 179,944 pilgrims walked the route, but this was due to it being a Holy Year. Holy Years are held in very high regards, due to this being whenever St. James Day, July 25, takes place on a Sunday.
By Lorelai Zelmerlow