On June 5, 2023, The Cuenca Dispatch published the story “Malacatos home invasion leaves Colorado mother dead, two of three suspects arrested and charged.”
The story incorrectly stated that two suspects had been arrested for the murder (and that a third suspect had been identified) of Francesca Williams, a 44-year-old wife and mother of three who was murdered on her family’s farm outside of Vilcabamba, Ecuador on May 20, 2023.
After following up on the story, local and federal police report that there have been no suspects identified or arrested for the crime.
As of Wednesday, June 7, 2023, authorities have released no further information on the attack on the Williams family and are asking the public to contact them with any information that may be pertinent to the case by calling 1800 DELITO (335486) and press OPTION 4. This call will be answered in Spanish.
Persons with information may also contact the Fiscalía General del Estado (Attorney General’s office) at 02 3985 800.
The Cuenca Dispatch Editorial team sincerely apologizes to the Williams family and the general public for any concerns this reporting error has caused.
A Colorado mother was killed, and her husband and father were injured in a home invasion several kilometers north of Vilcabamba, near Malacatos, Ecuador, on Saturday, May 20th, around 8 PM at night.
Francesca Williams, 44, was hanging laundry outside her home when she was shot and killed by a group of men who broke into her family’s property. Her husband, Michael Williams, 46, was beaten and her father, John Williams, 65, was stabbed multiple times.
The Williams family had lived in Vilcabamba for about 10 years. They had three daughters, Rebekah, 19, Rachel, 17, Renee, 14, ages 19, 17, and 14. The entire family was home at the time of the attack.
The two younger daughters were in their bedrooms when they heard the commotion. Rachel said she heard her grandfather scream and ran downstairs to see what was happening. There she saw her mother being attacked by a group of men.
“I saw my mom fighting them off,” Rachel said. “She was trying to protect my grandpa.”
Rachel said she saw her mother— who was shot twice in the back— killed in front of her.
Rebekah was in her own yurt, when the commotion kicked off – and rushed into the jungle before running to nearby neighbors to seek help.
While Francesca was trying to protect her father, her husband Michael Williams was beaten and tied up. After the attackers left with the family’s iPads, money and computers, he was able to free himself and call for help.
“I found my wife and she had been shot. We ran down the hill and [got her] into our car and took her to emergency services, but it was too late.”
Williams is still stunned that the attackers chose his family to rob.
“We never would have imagined people were staking us out. We are so far removed. It’s a three-kilometer drive to and from. And to hike and in and out, it’s incomprehensible.’
Francesca’s father, John Williams, 65, was stabbed multiple times. He was taken to a hospital in Quito, Ecuador, where he was treated and released.
Suspects arrested and charged
The police are still investigating the attack. They have arrested two suspects, but they are still looking for a third.
Jose Luis Martinez, 22, of and Juan Pablo Garcia, 23, both from Quito, have been charged with robbery and assault. Martinez has also been charged with murder. Both men are being held in the custody of the Ecuadorian police. They appeared in court on June 1, 2023.
The suspect, who is still at large has been identified as Juan Carlos Lopez, 25, of Quito, Ecuador.
The family has asked for the public’s help in finding Lopez. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ecuadorian police.
Family has returned to US
The Williams family returned to Colorado on May 25, 2023. They are currently staying with friends and family while they plan for Francesca’s funeral. They are obviously devastated by the brutal loss of Francesca and are asking for prayers and support during this difficult time.
Sadly, Michael Williams said the family had been making plans before the robbery to move back to the States.
“Ecuador is where Francesca felt most safe ironically,” Michael said. “Quite possibly if we stayed in the United States, she would still be with us, and nothing would have befallen her or my family.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses. The page has raised over $30,000.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement: “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance.
We refer you to the government of Ecuador for information regarding any local investigation. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
Francesca was born and raised in California and completed her education at Poway High School and UCSD, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. Fluent in French, Spanish, and Lithuanian, she pursued her passion for languages as a translator. Additionally, she was an enthusiastic writer and illustrator, having successfully published her debut book, “The King’s Magic.”