Mourning turns to mystery as Mexican singer Jose Jose's body 'disappears'
Mexico City (AFP)
Legendary Mexican singer Jose Jose's legions of fans had not even finished processing the news of his death when a mystery exploded amid the mourning: where is The Prince of Song's body?
Jose Romulo Sosa Ortiz, a superstar singer of Latin love songs better known by his stage name, Jose Jose, died Saturday at age 71 outside Miami, according to the Mexican government.
Emotional fans were still belting out his classic hits through tears in Claveria, his native Mexico City neighborhood, when the loss took a telenovela-like turn: Jose Jose's two oldest children, Jose Joel and Marysol, accused their younger half-sister and her mother of hiding his body.
When Jose Joel and Marysol, whose mother was the second of Jose Jose's three wives, arrived Sunday at the funeral home where they thought his wake would be held, they were told their father's body was not there.
They say their father's third wife, Sara Salazar, and her daughter, Sarita, have refused to tell them where it is or what they plan to do with it.
As comparisons to Elvis Presley began to fly -- is he REALLY dead? -- Jose Joel and Marysol went to the police station in Cutler Bay, Florida, to file a report on his missing remains.
"If I don't see my dad's body I can't believe anything. Nothing," Marysol told journalists outside the station house.
"We have the right to see the body. We want to know if Jose Jose, our father, has really died," said Jose Joel.
"To be clear: We aren't fighting for his money or his inheritance, we aren't interested in that."
He called on Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to intervene.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that it "has offered and reiterates its support to the family."
Jose Jose's manager, Laura Nunez, who accompanied the elder children to the police station, said there was no record of a death certificate for the late crooner.
"The police do not have a report of his death. Sara, we are pleading with you, the Mexican people are pleading with you: tell us what happened to Jose."
- Telenovela villain -
In an exclusive interview with Spanish-language TV network Univision on Sunday, Sarita did not refer directly to her half-siblings' accusations, but made an appeal for family unity, in her father's name.
Sarita, who lived with her mother and father in Miami, did not say what the plans were for the remains.
"It's still very early to decide what will be done," she said.
Jose Joel accused her of deliberately trying to maximize the drama of their father's death, hinting she might be doing it for financial gain.
"It's as if it were part of a contract" with a media company, he told radio network W on Monday.
Memes comparing Sarita to the most iconic villains of Mexico's melodramatic telenovela soap operas soon went viral on social networks.
"Just when you thought Soraya Montenegro, Rubi, Teresa and Catalina Creel were baddies par excellence... along comes Jose Jose's youngest daughter, Sarita," said one.
- Velvety voice -
With his velvety voice and songs for jilted lovers, Jose Jose sold more than 120 million albums.
In a career stretching from the late 1960s to the 1990s, he became one of the most successful Spanish-language singers of all time with hits such as "El Triste," "Buenos dias, amor" and "Almohada."
He was known for his openness about his personal life, including his romances and struggles with alcoholism.
He quit drinking in 1993, but the hard life he had led, the strain on his voice from decades of performing, and other health issues led him to give up singing in the early 2000s.
He married three times and fathered three children. He wed his Cuban widow, Salazar, in 1995, then moved to Miami with her.
He had recently spent long stints in the hospital for pancreatic cancer, though Sarita told Univision he was in remission.
Relations had long been strained between her and her half-siblings.
Jose Jose had ceded the rights to his songs to Sarita, and Mexican media reported that she also convinced him to sign the rights to his life story over to her.
© 2019 AFP