A jury on Wednesday found a Spanish man guilty of killing an Arizona woman while she was walking a world-renowned pilgrimage route in Spain in 2015.
Two years to the day that a Phoenix-area woman went missing in Spain, her family learned that the man accused of murdering her was found guilty.
Miguel Angel Munoz now faces sentencing in the April 2015 killing of Denise Thiem, 41, of Litchfield Park, while she traveled the Camino de Santiago, a popular trek across northern Spain.
Thiem’s brother, Cedric Thiem, took to Facebook and posted a response to the April 5 verdict on the “Help Us Find Denise” group page.
The family is fortunate to have had a great amount of support the past two years, he said.
Cedric Thiem wrote that while family members never will get over the loss of Denise, the verdict did bring closure to them.
He said he hopes one day to complete his sister’s journey and “remember the Camino as a pilgrimage in a beautiful country made up of warm and loving people.”
IN THE BEGINNING: Arizona woman disappears on Spain’s Camino de Santiago
Munoz, 41, was arrested five months after a massive search was launched to find Thiem. Police discovered a body on his property near Astorga, the town where Denise Thiem was last seen, according to the Associated Press and media reports in Spain.
A jury found Munoz guilty of killing Thiem and stealing more than $1,100 from her while she was walking the pilgrimage route, according to an Associated Press report.
Munoz originally admitted to killing Thiem but later took back his statement and said he only found the body, the Associated Press said.
The jury found that he diverted her from the pilgrimage trail by setting up a marker meant to confuse pilgrims and lead them near his house, according to the Associated Press.
After Thiem’s disappearance, reports of other travelers being harassed on the Camino de Santiago came to light on message boards. Several news outlets reported that Munoz had a history of harassing and attacking pilgrims along that stretch.
The coroner’s report said Thiem died from brain injuries caused by repeated beatings.
Thiem’s friends and family have said that they hope her death was not in vain and that there will be more attention paid to hikers’ safety.
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