HOUSTON (CBS/KHOU) Elisabeth Mandala was a popular senior at Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas, about 20 miles south of Houston. The pictures on her Facebook page show a pretty blonde with a sweet smile, but others hint at a different side of her - one that may have gotten her killed.
And after her beaten body was found in Mexico, with the bodies of two older men, those who knew her may be asking who she really was.
Houston police say Mandala was last seen April 27 leaving her mother's home. Police spokesman Victor Senties said her mother reported the 18-year-old missing around midday Saturday. A clue as to Mandala's whereabouts came from her Facebook page which read: "I'm in Mexico, I'll be back Thursday," according to CBS affiliate KHOU.
But that was the last anyone would hear from her until reports came from Mina, a small village in Mexico near Monterrey, of a young blond girl found beaten to death in a Dodge truck that had apparently smashed into another truck. Along with Mandala's broken body authorities reported finding two dead Mexican citizens, Dante Ruiz Siller, 38, and Luis Angel Estrella Mondragon, 44.
Investigators believe the three victims had been killed at least 10 hours before the crash, and the killers staged the wreck. A large rock had been placed on top of the gas pedal, the station reported.
Siller, a merchant, and Mondragon, a cab driver, were from a small town near Mexico City. Relatives said the men left together on April 29, but they weren't sure why they were traveling to Monterrey, according to KHOU.
Police said the men had several forms of fake ID.
It's not clear how Mandala knew the two men but reports are trickling in that Mandala may have been leading a double life.
According to Truecrimereport.com Mandala moonlighted as a stripper and her mom believes she may have gone to Mexico to learn how to be a "coyote," slang for a person who smuggles illegal immigrants across the border into the US, but it looks like she may have gotten in way over head.
The news of Mandala's untimely and violent death hit the students of Kempner High School hard and school officials had counselors on campus Tuesday to help cope with the loss.
"It affected everyone. There were people crying in the middle of class, in almost every single class I went to," Jillian Thompson, a classmate, told KHOU Tuesday.
A friend's MySpace page Wednesday expressed what a lot of Mandala's friends may be feeling right now.
"Can't believe the way you were taken lil liz but your [sic] in a better place now wish you where still around being your crazy self and making everyone happy."
Mandala's family members are in Mexico working to bring her home.