CBC Toronto has uncovered new details about the Canadian charged with killing a mother of two at a Cancun resort last month.

The attorney general's office for the Mexican state of Quintana Roo initially charged Michael Kalata, 33, on May 5, releasing few details about the case.

In accordance with Mexican law, they only released the initials of the man charged, along with a photo where part of his face was blurred to obscure his identity. 


The photo originally released by Mexican officials after Michael Kalata was charged with homicide May 5. (Fiscalía General del Estado de Quintana Roo)

CBC Toronto has heard from several people who say they know Kalata and that he most recently worked for auto parts giant Magna. 

Last week a judge decided Kalata will be held in custody for two years before a trial is conducted. The investigation by the attorney general's office is expected to wrap up in a few weeks.

Kalata was charged with homicide May 5, almost two weeks after 23-year-old Gabrieila Jaramillo was found beaten to death in a hotel room at Cancun's Gran Caribe Resort.

Michael Kalata and Gabriela Jaramillo

Gabriela Jaramillo and Michael Kalata on the beach during their Cancun vacation. She was found dead April 22. ( Jaramillo family photo)

Maritza Jaramillo, the victim's sister, says Gabriela met Kalata in Saltillo one night and the two exchanged phone numbers. The two would go dancing, she said, and stayed together in a hotel during his frequent work trips to the city in northern Mexico, where Magna has a plant.

Citing a forensic report, she said her sister was beaten and that her body showed signs of being strangled.

Video of Gabriela Jaramillo on Cancun vacation0:50

"I feel powerless that I couldn't help my sister in that moment," Jaramillo said, her voice breaking, in a phone interview in Spanish.  

She described her sibling as friendly and outgoing, always smiling, and also a single mother of two daughters, aged five and three.

Gabriela Jaramillo

Gabriela Jaramillo with her two daughters, now five and three. (Jaramillo family photo)

Jaramillo said her sister was scheduled to graduate from university in December. She had a double major in nursing and criminology, and hoped to provide a better life for her two daughters.

Jaramillo doesn't believe the girls fully understand what happened to their mother, but says they often cry for her.

"Our sister isn't coming back," she said. "It'll give us a little bit of peace, knowing that [the person responsible] will be punished."​

Gabriela Jaramillo

Jaramillo is pictured with one of her daughters. (Jaramillo family photo)

The attorney general's office said Kalata has been in custody since the day of the killing, but spent time in hospital after reporting that he was ill.

Kalata's LinkedIn profile lists him as a manager of finance with Magna Closures Americas. The profile was removed a day after CBC Toronto first started making calls about the case in late April. 

Magna's communications director, Tracy Fuerst, would not confirm Kalata worked for the company, responding by email, "You are referring to a situation that is not related to Magna, therefore I have no comment." 

Fuerst did not respond to a further email from CBC Toronto asking whether Kalata had been fired or suspended. His name could not be found in the company directory.

Jaramillo said she was told by her sister that the man she was dating worked for Magna.

Now, she wishes she would have known more about their relationship.

"I feel bad that she didn't trust me to confide in me more so that I could have given her advice."

Gabriela Jaramillo

Jaramillo with one of her girls. (Jaramillo family photo)

Another family member, Juan Mora, last saw his niece over Christmas when he visited from Texas.

They kept in touch via social media and chatted over Facebook just a day before she died.

Jaramillo told him she was bored at the hotel in Cancun, because it wouldn't stop raining on what was supposed to be a fun beach vacation.

'She didn't deserve to die like that'

"I was just joking around with her," Mora said by phone, recalling their light-hearted conversation.

"I said 'Well, I guess you better get a good book ... because you're not going to be able to go to the beach and suntan.'"

A day later, upon hearing she'd been killed, he felt shocked and angry.

"We just want justice," he said. "She was a good person ... she didn't deserve to die like that."