Years after watching the first part of the Mexican mini-series Crime Diaries: The Night out, I decided to watch the third part that’s called The Search (2020). The series discusses the real case of suspicious death and disappearance of a 4-year-old Paulette Gebara Farah in the municipality of Huixquilucan in Mexico.
On the morning of 22 of March 2010, Paulette’s nanny went to wake her up but she wasn’t in her bed. She looked around the house before heading to the mother’s room to inform her about Paulette’s disappearance.
The police were called and information about the girl and her physical disabilities (motor and language) were shared on local television and social media. Her mother appeared on TV asking the alleged abductor to return her safely. Pictures of Paulette were distributed as flyers, in advertisements and on billboards to widen the search.
Attorney general Alberto Bazbaz was in charge of the investigation. Later, he issued restraining orders for the parents and the nannies due to contradictions in their statements.
However, after nine days, the body of Paulette was found in her bedroom. Although the original video footage that was leaked to the public — right after the discovery — had someone mentioning that she was severely beaten and her sheets had blood stains, Bazbaz refuted it saying that the cause of death was mechanical asphyxia that happened accidentally.
The official findings declared that death had occurred between five and nine days. As there were no signs of drug or sexual abuse — despite the remains of adhesive cloth on both cheeks and a blow to the left elbow and knee — Paulette’s death was declared an accident: She had fell in the space between the mattress and the foot of her bed and died asphyxiated.
Obviously, this conclusion caused a stir among the public as there were many ambiguities surrounding the case: Why couldn’t the dogs that were brought on the day of her disappearance find the body? What about the mother who was interviewed on Paulette’s bed — days later — and the guest who’d spent several nights there?
Couldn’t they smell the putrefaction? The body of Paulette was buried on the 6th of April. The following month Bazbaz resigned from his position, arguing that he had lost confidence due to many questioning his actions during the investigation. Though the case is intriguing and heartbreaking, it was presented very lamely in the mini-series. It was almost comical with Bazbaz’s gawky character (played by Dario Yazbak) and two other agents-used merely as muscles — who were fitter for a Hollywood gangster comedy.
In reality, the six episodes don’t add much to the original case, yet it sheds light on more enigmas surrounding it such as the parents’ cold reaction towards the vanishing of their daughter and the innumerable mistakes made during the investigation such as using Paulette’s room — the crime scene — as guest accommodation. Even when suspicions surrounded her father, his highly influential family stopped all attempts to incriminate him which altered the course of the investigation.
The series also presents other characters taking advantage of the case, such as the news anchor who wants to rise to fame covering the story and the family’s friend who publishes a book relating events from her point of view. Nonetheless, the plot is incoherent which makes characters and events ill-defined. Just when you feel that everyone is lying or up to something, you’re left at the end with what you started with: an unsolved mystery accompanied by a huge disappointment. The Search is a display of when the pursuit of justice clashes with corruption and power abuse. Available on Netflix.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org