SANTA BARBARA, Honduras (AFP) - A shaken Honduras held a funeral for its Miss World contestant and her sister on Thursday after the sister's boyfriend shot them in a jealous rage, according to police and media reports.
Under a white tent set up in the street in front of the family's house in the northwestern town of Santa Barbara, mourners held a dawn vigil for Miss Honduras, 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, and her sister Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, 23.
People attend the funeral service of the two sisters at a church in Santa Barbara on Nov 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Ms Sotero Munoz (centre), the murdered sisters' grandmother, crying at their wake in front of their home. PHOTO: AFP
A young man attending the wake taking a cellphone snapshot of a picture on Ms Maria Jose Alvarado's coffin. -- PHOTO: AFP
After forensic analysts in Tegucigalpa examined the sisters' bodies overnight, authorities returned them for a morning funeral service in Santa Barbara, some 200km from the capital.
The violence-plagued Central American nation has been in shock since police found the sisters' bodies buried along the banks of the Aguagual River on Wednesday and accused Sofia's boyfriend Plutarco Ruiz of killing them on the night they went missing a week ago.
Their bodies were found buried near a river in the mountainous region of Santa Barbara in western Honduras. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Maria Jose, who won the Miss Honduras crown in April, had been due to fly to London Wednesday to compete in the Miss World pageant.
According to Honduran media reports, police believe Ruiz, who was holding a birthday party last Thursday night at a resort outside Santa Barbara, flew into a fit of rage when he saw Sofia dancing with another man, shooting her in the head and then her beauty queen sister twice in the back.
Police arrested Ruiz and an alleged accomplice, Aris Maldonado, on Tuesday.
Alleged murderer Plutarco Antonio Ruiz (left) and accomplice Aris Maldonado Mejia being escorted by police to appear before a judge on Nov 20. -- PHOTOS: AFP
They said they had seized a Colt-45 pistol and two vehicles, including a white pick-up truck allegedly used to transport the sisters' bodies some 20km from the resort to the spot where they were buried.
On Wednesday, police also arrested the owner of the resort, Ventura Diaz; his wife, Elizabeth Alvarado; and their daughter Irma Nicolle.
"We're interrogating the suspects to see if there were more people involved" in trying to cover up the crime, police spokesman Jose Coello told AFP.
Officials have accused Ruiz of taking his pick-up to a garage after burying the sisters and having it cleaned and repainted.
Alvarado, who turned heads with her gleaming smile and wavy chestnut hair, was in her last year of university at the Northern Polytechnic Institute, where she studied computer science.
She had participated in beauty contests since she was a young girl.
She was also known in Honduras for her work as a model on popular TV game show "X-0".
Trophies and tiaras won by Ms Maria Jose Alvarado and her sister, Sofia, on display in their house in Santa Barbara, Honduras. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Organisers of the Miss World pageant, which begins Saturday, said they were "devastated" by the loss of "two young women who were so full of life."
They have announced a tribute this weekend in honour of the slain sisters, and said they planned to donate money to a children's home in Honduras in the two women's memory.
Honduras, a poor country of eight million people, has the world's highest homicide rate, at 90.4 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012.
The United Nations' special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, warned in July that violence against women was on the rise in Honduras, with a 263.4-percent increase in the number of females killed violently between 2005 and 2013.