Where is Marta? is a three-part Spanish documentary series directed by Paula Cons for Netflix. The crime docu-series follows the disappearance of a 17-year-old high school teenager, Marta del Castillo Casanueva, who lived with her parents in Seville, Spain. She went out with her friend, a 19-year-old boy, Miguel Carcano Delgado, on the afternoon of 24th January 2009 and never returned home. The investigators haven’t yet recovered Marta’s body. The primary suspects in the case keep changing their statements to mislead the authorities. The unreliable testimonies and the department’s inefficiency complicate the case. Director Paula Cons tries to connect the missing links and evidence and brings new hope to Marta’s parents in their pursuit of finding Marta’s body.
Disappearance of Marta
On 24th January 2009, Marta went out to meet some friends in the afternoon. When she didn’t return home by 9:00 PM, her mother, Eva, called her several times, but she didn’t pick up the phone. Eva got Marta’s friend, Miguel Carcano Delgado,’s number and contacted him. He told Eva that he had dropped Marta off at the Dima Glass Shop around 9:30 PM. Miguel stopped picking up Eva’s call, and at around 12:45 AM, Marta’s father, Antonio, went to Miguel’s house, 78 León XIII Street. Antonio knocked on the door and the windows, but no one opened them. He went to file an initial report for Marta’s disappearance in the morning, but the police told Antonio to wait until Monday.
The following day, Marta’s uncle, Javier, went to Miguel’s house again. His older stepbrother, Francisco Javier, told him that Miguel dropped Marta at 9:30 PM last night and returned to Camas, where he lived in his girlfriend, Rocío’s house. The homicide department shared the case details with Minor’s division, and the authorities contacted Miguel. He shared the same story with the investigators and told them that he left Marta safe and sound near her house and went back to bed.
On 14th February, the investigators interrogated Miguel again. The police had a witness who saw Miguel with his dead mother’s wheelchair in the early hours of the morning. They also procured Miguel’s clothes he was wearing on the night of Marta’s disappearance. The forensic team confirmed that Marta’s blood had been found on Miguel’s jacket. With this evidence in hand, Miguel was arrested for the alleged Murder of Marta del Castillo.
The Many Versions of the Truth
In Marta’s murder investigation, the prime suspects were Miguel, Miguel’s step-brother, Francisco Javier, a 14-year-old boy, El Cuco (Francisco Javier Garcia Marn) and Samuel Benítez. These suspects kept on changing their statements, which sabotaged the investigation. Let’s look at the many versions of the same night and the same event.
- At first, Miguel and Francisco told Marta’s parents and the police that Miguel dropped Marta near Dima Glass Shop and went back to Camas.
- After evidence was found against Miguel, he confessed to the police that at the night of 24th January, he entered into an argument with Marta in his house at 78 León XIII Street. He admitted to hitting Marta with an ashtray. The fatal blow led to Marta’s death. Later, Miguel contacted his friend Samuel.
- In Samuel’s version, he accepted that Miguel contacted him and begged him to come to his place at XIII Street. Samuel told the police that he saw Marta lying on the floor covered in blood. Miguel and Samuel got rid of the evidence and put Marta’s body on Miguel’s motorcycle. They threw her body from the bridge into the Guadalquivir river.
- In the second version, Miguel shunned the motorcycle story and weaved another statement. Miguel informed the police about a third person, El Cuco, and a car. He said that El Cuco was driving the car and helped them (Miguel and Samuel) dump Marta’s body into the river.
- In his version of the truth, El Cuco told the investigators that he saw Marta’s body inside Miguel’s house. According to El Cuco, at the time of the murder, Miguel’s older stepbrother, Francisco Javier, was present in the house. He threatened El Cuco to keep his mouth shut.
- Francisco Javier told the police that Miguel had come home with someone on 24th January. Francisco said he left the house and went to Tharsis Street to give them space, where he met with his ex-wife, Rosa. He was there at Rosa’s home till 11:30 PM, and from there his girlfriend, Maria, picked him and took him to the bar. He stayed at the bar until around 3:00 AM and reached León XIII Apartment at 4:00 AM. However, according to cell phone antenna records, Javier made many calls that night that placed him in the León XIII Apartment at the time of Marta’s death.
- Miguel changed his statement again and came up with a third version. When he returned to the house, he saw Marta on the bed, and El Cuco was pointing a knife at her. According to Miguel, El Cuco raped and killed Marta.
- Miguel soon came up with the fourth version on 17th March 2009. He said he helped El Cuco in the sexual assault on Marta. He even changed the location of Marta’s body and confessed to dumping the corpse in a dumpster near his house.
- On 13th September 2009, Miguel’s girlfriend, Rocío, testified to the police that Miguel came to Camas on 24th January. Miguel told her that he was going to his house to solve a problem with his brother and get rid of the evidence. Miguel disclosed to Rocío that he was with Marta that afternoon and took her to his house, where they argued. His brother came out of the room and fought with Marta. And because Marta was talking back to her brother, he hit her with an ashtray. Once she was on the floor, the two of them started hitting her. Later, they dumped the body near an area in Camas that was revealed to Rocío by Miguel.
- During the trial, Miguel testified before the judge that his brother, Francisco Javier, murdered Marta. It was Miguel’s fifth version of the event.
- In a trial on 17th October 2011, Miguel told the court that he hit Marta with an ashtray because she wanted him to leave Rocío and resume a relationship with Marta. At that moment, El Cuco arrived at the house, and Miguel asked him to call Samuel. El Cuco contacted Samuel from a phone booth outside the house, and he came an hour later. The three young boys took out Marta’s body in a wheelchair and put her inside the car.
- When the lawyers asked Miguel why he tried to frame El Cuco in his earlier statement, Miguel said that El Cuco accused his brother, and he lied to accuse El Cuco of more crimes.
- After the trial, only Miguel went to prison for the crimes against Marta. The rest of the defendants, El Cuco, Francisco Javier, and Samuel, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
- The police were convinced that the case had been rushed and had been falsely closed. They interviewed Miguel in prison, where he gave them a seventh version of the event.
The Seventh Version of the Truth
On 23rd April 2013, Miguel said that he was in the house with Marta and his brother, Francisco Javier. The brothers were hanging laundry when Francisco blamed Miguel for not paying the mortgage. According to Miguel, Francisco turned violent and he tried to run away from the house. He caught Miguel in the hallway, and Marta tried to help. Francisco took out a gun, and hit Marta in the head several times with the butt of the gun. After Marta died, Francisco asked Miguel to take him to Rosa’s house on his motorcycle. Francisco took Rosa’s car and returned to León XIII Apartment to dispose of Marta’s body. In between this time, El Cuco arrived at the house and saw Marta’s body. He ran away from the house, and Francisco let him go. In the end, the brothers put Marta’s body in their mother’s wheelchair and transferred the body to Rosa’s car. Francisco drove the vehicle and asked Miguel to follow him on his motorcycle. They dumped the body near a ditch in Majabola and covered it with debris. The body wasn’t recovered from this area either.
A Sabotaged Investigation
The police kept going round and round in circles with all of Miguel’s lies. The contradictory stories drove the police crazy. Miguel was a compulsive liar. Even the police investigators tried to threaten and traumatize the suspects. It probably led to different versions of the event. The police were pressured from above and thus they needed answers. They conducted costly searches based on Miguel’s statements without even investigating the credibility of his statements. Everyone was in a hurry to find the corpse, so they believed whatever the suspects testified. Due to investigators’ inefficiency and hasty judicial judgement, the trial became a lost cause. The prime suspects traumatized Marta’s parents with their stories and never revealed the location of the corpse. The parents are still looking for Marta to give her a proper burial.
A Final Ray of Hope
Based on Miguel’s seventh version of the truth, the investigators tried to verify the mortgage theory. Miguel and Francisco Javier inherited the León XIII Apartment from their late mother. It already had a mortgage when Francisco decided to take a unilateral mortgage loan on it. Francisco remortgaged the house in Miguel’s name and forged payroll and employment records in Miguel’s name. Francisco denied talking to Miguel about the mortgage on the night of 24th January 2019. Due to insignificant evidence, the judge closed Francisco’s case concerning the mortgage issue in 2021.
In April 2021, during the making of the documentary film, “Where is Marta?” Director Paula Cons investigated the cellphone records and found a lot of missing information regarding the cellphone antennas. Paula concluded that these records should have specified a more precise location of the suspects within the radius of the antennas. The police didn’t request telephone companies for these records, and in-depth analysis was never conducted. According to Manuel Herta, an investigator could have determined the phone’s location and any movements simply because it was connected to an antenna. Therefore, if the prime suspects moved locations to hide Marta’s body at any given moment, they would have been able to see that information. However, out of all the other devices, only Miguel’s phone was kept as evidence. The authorities agreed to share raw data and Miguel’s cellphone for analysis with Paula Cons. The corrected camera footage from Rosa’s building added to the confusion about Francisco’s whereabouts on the night of 24th January. Francisco Javier had been a prime suspect in the disappearance of Marta, and new evidence about his whereabouts could lead to an uncertain turn of events.
Based on new evidence and Paula Cons’ initiative, the judge has requested the phone companies to submit the raw data of the phone belonging to the prime suspects in the case. The data will be used to recreate the suspects’ movements on the night of Marta’s disappearance. The search for Marta’s body is still in progress.
Where is Marta? is a 2021 Spanish crime documentary film directed by Paula Cons. It is streaming on Netflix.