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California graduate student was murdered while doing field work in Sonora

Sonoran authorities are investigating the murder of a graduate student from California who was killed while doing field research in the state.

Gabriel Trujillo was 31 years old. A botanist and Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, he came to Sonora in mid-June to conduct research on a flowering plant known as common bottlebrush, and to connect with his indigenous Opata heritage.

But on June 19, his fiancée lost contact with Trujillo, and on June 22 his body was found with multiple gunshot wounds near the town of Yécora. Sonoran prosecutors released a statement only after members of Trujillo’s family posted about his death on social media last week.

Loved ones have started a GoFundMe to help with the cost of funeral services and bringing his body back to the United States.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.