A college student is found dead in Tijuana.
Tijuana is one of Mexico’s most popular border towns for college students looking for fun at bargain rates. But a good time here can cost you your life.
August 1, 1998. 1:30 a.m. Steven Thomas was looking for his 20 year-old brother Jayson in the crowds of partiers. They had become separated while heading back to their car.
An hour and a half after Jayson disappeared, a Tijuana police officer discovered his battered body in the road.
Jason’s aunt, Teena Martin-Smith, thinks she knows what happened:
Jayson Artis was attending college in Los Angeles. He brought his younger brother, Steven, out for a visit and a good time south of the Border. Saturday night, the main drag was packed. For many, the loose drinking laws here were the biggest attraction.
About 9:00 pm, Jayson, Steve, and their friend Michael Justin started bar-hopping, hitting places that offered all you could drink for less than $5.00. Jayson was usually friendly, but he had a reputation as a rowdy drinker. That night, he was already a little intoxicated and didn’t realize that tequila cost extra—$6.00 a shot. Jason’s friend, Michael Justin, says that Jason got into an argument with the tequila vendor:
Jayson and Steven left Michael at the bar and went back to the strip. Jayson’s brother, Steven, recalls what happened next:
The officer seemed to be offended and made Jayson get on his knees. Eventually, the police let him go. Steven says he tried to get his brother to move on as quickly as possible:
Soon after Steven lost sight of Jayson, Michael claims that he spotted him in the back of a police car:
Michael and Steven never saw Jayson again. Jayson’s family was shocked when two days later, the American consulate sent word that he was dead. Tijuana authorities told Jayson’s family that he must have gotten lost trying to get back to the border. They called it a tragic hit-and-run accident. But Steven doubts that story:
Tijuana police deny the allegation. Roberto Sanchez, from the Public Safety Dept. of Tijuana, claims Jayson was never in custody:
Jayson’s family obtained a copy of the autopsy report through the American consulate and had it translated into English. Jayson’s aunt, Teena Martin-Smith, was not convinced:
Unsolved Mysteries asked three forensic pathologists to review the report. One agreed with the hit-and-run finding. The other two, however, questioned the official results.
Dr. Jacob Turner was one of the pathologists:
For instance, the Tijuana coroner claimed the car had hit Jayson so hard in the chest that it ruptured his heart. Dr. Turner doesn’t think this was the case:
Dr. Turner is also of the opinion that Jayson’s head wounds were similar to those caused by a beating:
Jayson’s aunt, Teena, agrees with Dr. Turner’s assessment:
Tijuana authorities say the case is still under investigation. But they also say, they believe that Jayson’s family may be overreacting. According to Roberto Sanchez of the Public Safety Dept. of Tijuana: