By Ryan Devereaux
THE NIGHTMARE BEGAN just after sundown. At a dimly lit intersection in Iguala, police with automatic weapons surrounded three buses loaded with college students. The police opened fire. Screaming that they were unarmed, the students fled down darkened alleys, pounding on doors, desperate for shelter. Gunmen put the city on lockdown, stalking the streets in a drizzling rain.
By the time the gunfire finally stopped, two dozen people were wounded and six were dead at three locations, the youngest only 15 years old. One student was shot in the head, leaving him brain dead. A bullet ripped through the mouth of another. Two young men bled to death in the streets, left for hours without medical help. First light brought fresh horrors when the mutilated body of one of the students was discovered in the dirt.
Worse was yet to come. During the chaos, 43 students had been taken captive.
The crimes that began in Iguala on September 26, 2014 had reverberations throughout Mexico. Massive protests have roiled the country. Government buildings have been torched. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was forced to launch what his administration called the largest investigation in recent memory.
More than seven months later, the country is haunted by questions. What really happened that night? Where were the students taken and what was their fate? Though the government has provided its explanation, serious doubts surround the official version of events. While scores of clandestine graves have been unearthed in the southern state of Guerrero since then, the remains of just one student — nothing more than a small chip of bone — have been identified.