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When a college student dies in Tijuana, evidence points to foul play.
The highway that separates Tijuana, Mexico, from the United States is called the Avenida Internacional. Dozens of people die here every year, most, while trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
On the night of May 5, 1996, the scene facing local rescue crews was all too familiar. A pedestrian had allegedly been struck in a hit and run accident and was barely alive. He carried no I.D. and was classified as “Desconocido,” or unknown.
The man died six days after the accident without regaining consciousness. Another 15 days passed before he was identified as 22-year-old Patrick Sean Kelly, a film student at the University of Southern California.
Patrick always had a passion for writing and storytelling. By the time he went to college, he knew that he wanted to make movies.
After months of intense effort, Patrick had just turned in his junior year-end project – a full-length motion picture script. Patrick celebrated by watching a movie on video with his close friend Michael Park:
Patrick’s mother, Terri Kelly, was the first to notice something was wrong:
Terri asked Michael Park to go to Patrick’s room. It looked as if Patrick had just stepped out. His wallet was on the desk, his bags and clothes in the closet. And yet, his passport was nowhere to be found.
On Patrick’s answering machine, Michael found was a message from Patrick’s bank asking for a return call. Terri Kelly immediately phoned the bank:
That direction was south. At 10:24 Saturday morning, Patrick had made a $60.00 withdrawal at a 7-11 in San Clemente, 63 miles south of Los Angeles.
At 6:08 P.M., another $135 was withdrawn at an ATM in the Tijuana tourist area. The next day, three more withdrawals at an ATM in downtown Tijuana bled Patrick’s account dry.
Terri Kelly hired private detective Doug Roth to find Patrick. Doug began at the 7-11 in San Clemente. The surveillance tape from Saturday morning showed Patrick entering the store. He acted normally. There was no indication of trouble.
Doug continued south to Mexico. At the border, he decided to check the parking lots where tourists leave their cars before entering Tijuana. Roth hit pay dirt right away.
The leads uncovered at the parking lot led Doug to the Tijuana morgue and the body of the unidentified pedestrian.
Terri Kelly rushed to Mexico, fearing the worst:
But how exactly did Patrick Kelly die? Here’s what we know: At approximately 1:00 A.M. on May 5th, a motorcyclist was heading east along the Avenida Internacional. Two pedestrians suddenly darted out in front of him. The motorcyclist lost control and hit Patrick.
An independent autopsy, commissioned by Terri Kelly, seemed to agree. The report concluded; “Findings do not support an interpretation that death was due to a motor vehicle accident.”
The hours after the accident were also marked by irregularities. While Patrick lay dying in the hospital, someone used his ATM card in downtown Tijuana. They made not one, but three, cash withdrawals.
Doug Roth finds this evidence compelling;
The evidence of foul play was mounting. First the autopsy, then the ATM withdrawals, and finally Patrick’s car. According to the parking lot records, somebody paid the $60 fee and drove the car off the lot four days after Patrick died. The next day, the car was returned to the same parking space.
Doug Roth has a theory:
Was Patrick Kelly with a friend when he was run down in Tijuana? If so, why hasn’t that friend come forward? The death of Patrick Kelly remains a mystery.