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Australian Mother Missing In Cancun After Daughter Found Abandoned

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A troubling story has emerged in Cancun after a two-year-old girl was found wandering outside a church in the seaside town. A missing person alert has been raised for the girl’s Australian mother who has been missing since Monday along with the girl’s father. The girl’s mother, named Tahnee Shanks is an Australian woman from the Whitsunday Islands.

cancun at sunset

Tahnee’s brother, Daniel Shanks, woke on Tuesday to posts being shared extensively on Facebook of his niece being found near a church in the resort town of Cancun. Mr. Shanks contacted the original sharer of the post, kickstarting a series of events that is now drawing international headlines.

Tahnee, who moved to Mexico in 2007, has not been heard from since Saturday night when she supposedly sent text messages to her family explaining that she was in a small fishing town for a short vacation with her daughter and husband. Her brother has stated he felt uncomfortable when he received the texts, suggesting it didn’t fully sound like her, and the events that unfolded in the next few days compounded that feeling. He has stated that he believes he was talking to the husband and not her.

Tahnee had been attempting to leave Mexico for some time and had apparently come to an agreement with her husband (other sources have said boyfriend), named Jorge Astudillo, for her to take her young daughter back to Australia with her. The relationship had suffered a severe breakdown after it emerged that he had got another woman pregnant. The brother has apparently been in touch with the other woman, but it is unclear if any significant information emerged from the interaction.

cancun at night

Although the information is unconfirmed, several people have approached the authorities and her brother suggesting that Tahnee was seen in Cancun on Monday, although with no child. Other tips have suggested seeing Jorge at the church shortly before the young girl was found, suggesting he was the one who left her. The man’s car was found abandoned in Cancun later in the week prompting further suspicion.

police station in cancun

It should be made clear that although circumstantial evidence may point toward Mr. Astudillo being involved with the Tahnee’s disappearance, it remains speculation at this point. Tahnee’s brother has lent plenty of insight into the relationship between the two people involved, but the majority of the information he has received has been from approaches on social media.

A search is underway for both Tahnee and Jorge, while Daniel Shanks and his mother are trying to get the two-year-old girl back to Australia in the meantime. It appears they are meeting red tape as she is involved in an active investigation and she has been brought up solely in Mexico. They’ve gone as far as to offer a $5000 reward for any help, and are currently on their way to Mexico to ensure her safety. The young girl is currently living in protected custody in an orphanage for her own protection. 

merida town center

Ms. Shanks was due to return to Australia in June after the pandemic had repeatedly prevented the move from happening. Again, although it is all speculation, Tahnee’s brother is already fearing the worst.

The investigation is ongoing and is drawing an extremely high amount of coverage, so any developments are likely to be announced publicly as they happen. Police have also suggested that anyone in Cancun, Tulum, or Merida, who may have any information come forward immediately to aid the process.

cancun hotel zone from above

The investigation is classified under the alba protocol, an initiative launched by the Quintana Roo police that focuses on missing tourists and foreigners in the state. 

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