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Jorge had sounded the alarm over O'Neil's disappearance and pressured police to investigate, Soto argued.
A confession by Carlos Anguiano implicating Jorge was unreliable, he said.
Then came the gunshots late one night inside Brian's bedroom in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the phone ringing 2,000 miles away in Mazatlan. The answer came two weeks later when police arrested four men, one of whom had arranged to meet Brian via a telephone chat line only to rob him, shoot him and leave him to die. It was in Mazatlan that O'Neil met Jorge, a handsome young Mexican with dark hair, green eyes and a tattoo across his tightly muscled chest reading “Warrior of God.” They had dated for a short time before opening a cafe together in 2014. O'Neil had gone on a date the night before with someone he'd met on a gay dating app, Jorge said, and O'Neil wasn't home yet, nor was he answering his phone. I will be there tomorrow,” Donnie wrote as he prepared to board a flight from his home in Maui to Mazatlan.
Soon they bought a house together in the District, fixing it up in the evenings. And even after their breakup, after O'Neil moved to Mexico and Brian moved to Maryland, they remained good friends. The same charisma that had made him the centre of attention as a kid in Chevy Chase, Maryland - leading his little brother Chris and their friends through Rock Creek Park, refereeing fights after school at Blessed Sacrament, captaining dodgeball games - made him popular in the gay-friendly resort town.
To the hundreds of students who lined up outside the funeral home that April evening in 2010, Brian Betts had been a beloved Washington, DC, middle school principal. But hotel employees denied seeing O'Neil, and drone footage of the surrounding countryside showed no trace of him or his car.
So when Jorge said he was receiving strange Spanglish texts from O'Neil's phone, Donnie told him to call the police. It was here, Jorge said, that O'Neil had gone to meet his date the night he disappeared.
State and local authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In an interview with t, Jorge's attorney, Hector Soto, said his client had been made into a “scapegoat” by officials eager to close a high-profile and politically sensitive case.
Six years after Brian's murder, O'Neil had fallen prey to a similar trap - one allegedly orchestrated by his best friend.Jorge went everywhere with Donnie, translating for him by day and sleeping in the same house at night.He even suggested suspects to police, organising a stakeout at a property where he said O'Neil might be held, Donnie recalled.The same day, Donnie met with the prosecutor handling O'Neil's disappearance. He then showed Donnie a diagram of communications between the suspected kidnappers. The next day Mazatlan was packed with people celebrating the Day of the Dead.To take his mind off his brother's disappearance, Donnie walked among the thousands of partygoers with their faces painted like skulls before ducking into a restaurant to call a kidnapping expert.
“Pay great attention because I will not say it again,” the kidnappers said in Spanish.