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North Carolina woman dies in Mexico while traveling with friends

The family of Shanquella Robinson is asking Mexican officials to thoroughly investigate her death.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Shanquella Robinson, the 25-year-old Charlotte woman who mysteriously died in Cabo during a Mexico trip with "friends" was laid to rest Saturday afternoon.

A horse-drawn carriage brought Robinson’s casket into Macedonia Baptist Church. Hundreds of people attended her celebration of life service. Loved ones wore pink in her honor, as well as bracelets and pins with Robinson's photo. 

“She was a very humble spirit, just a very sweet girl," Latoya Young said. "She was a genuine person."

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Danny Griffin, a longtime family friend of the Robinsons, said Shanquella will be remembered as a kind soul and her daddy's little girl. 

"Sometimes a daughter can do no wrong in their daddy's eyes," Griffin said. "She was the twinkle of his eye and he loved her to death."

Donations also poured in for Robinson's homegoing service. A GoFundMe started by the Robinson family has raised over $340,000. It includes donations by Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, with donations listed under his name totaling $65,000.

Robinson's death remains a mystery. Her tragedy has captured the hearts of communities beyond the Queen City, with her death making national headlines. 

“It means a lot to see Charlotte supporting her and her family," Tawanna Butler said. "I have a daughter and I have nieces. It is just sad. I came here to show support and be in solidarity, to show this is not OK.

"That child was among friends and she should have been able to feel comfortable and feel safe, and not this. This should not have happened."

Video that surfaced online showed a woman violently attacking Robinson during the trip. The FBI's field office in Charlotte has opened an investigation into Robinson's mysterious death. 

Laviris Smith, Robinson's neighbor, said he styled her hair for the trip. He's heartbroken knowing her life was taken too soon. 

"She was just excited about going on her trip," Smith said. "She sat on my chair and we talked about a lot of personal stuff. We just clicked and she was like my little sister."

Tamika D. Mallory, a well-known activist, said she stands in solidarity with the Robinsons.

“Losing a loved one in the heinous way which has happened to Shanquella there will probably never be peace for them but there cannot just be an open situation,” Mallory said. “It has to be closed with truth and it has to be that there is accountability for those who are responsible for her death.”

Mallory adds she wants to ensure that there are enough people putting pressure on the system to make sure Robinson gets the justice she deserves. 

“There was not enough attention as far as I’m concerned on this matter," Mallory said. "I feel like Shanquella should be all over national media and mainstream news. As we have seen with other women."

Meanwhile, loved ones are trying to cope with Robinson's death. Griffin said this is a tough loss and he is leaning on his faith.

“Everybody that has children, a son or daughter, it just makes you want to get down on your knees to pray for this family but also for your own family," Griffin said. 

Credit: Jesse Pierre
Shanquella Robinson laid to rest

Shanquella Robinson's mysterious death: What happened?

A nationwide call for justice has been shared through social media posts as more people learn about 25-year-old Shanquella Robinson of Charlotte, North Carolina, who died during a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in October. Many posts are using the hashtag #JusticeforShanquella in hopes her story will reach national headlines.

The North Carolina Beat reports Robinson and a group of friends left for Mexico on Oct. 29. Less than 24 hours later, according to the blog, the friends said Robinson wasn't feeling well due to alcohol poisoning and later died.

Robinson's family believes there is much more to her death. 

A video posted online shows Robinson being attacked by one of the friends she traveled with. WCNC Charlotte is choosing not to include the video due to the graphic images. 

Chris Swecker, a retired FBI assistant director, said emerging details like this should be enough to make Mexican officials take a second look at the case.

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“Based on the autopsy, I think this is a suspicious death that ought to be thoroughly investigated, and the more you put it front and center with the media," Swecker said. "I’ve had experience with this before the more the Mexican government will apply pressure to their investigative agencies and get to the bottom of it."

So far, no one in the group is facing charges related to the alleged assault on Robinson or her death. Swecker said there is a statute that gives the FBI and the state department the ability to investigate the murder of a U.S citizen in a foreign country at the hands of another U.S citizen, but there are limitations.

“If the foreign country is willing to prosecute ... that individual they will exercise that jurisdiction," Swecker said. "The other one is if that perpetrator is out of the country where the murder took place and that country has no means of prosecuting or investigating the perpetrator."

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they are not involved at all in the investigation. WCNC Charlotte has worked to track down the friends who Robinson traveled with; they have either offered no comment or have left the area and can no longer be reached.

WCNC Charlotte contacted the FBI Charlotte Field Office to see if it was investigating her death. They released the following statement: 

"The FBI Charlotte Field Office has opened an investigation in the death of Charlotte resident, Shanquella Robinson in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on or about October 29, 2022. Due to the ongoing investigation, we have no further comment."

The state attorney general's office of Baja California Sur said "the case was opened as a femicide. We will continue the investigation."

U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams issued the statement following reports of Robinson's death:

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Shanquella Robinson, and my heart goes out to her family and those who loved her. No parent deserves to suffer this tragedy.

“As with all cases involving constituents, our Congressional Office is ready to assist in any way we can with federal agencies. Any constituent who needs assistance with a federal agency can open a case with our office by calling 704-344-9950 or visiting adams.house.gov.”

Charlotte NAACP President Reverend Corine Mack said she is heartbroken by Robinson’s death. She said no family should have to endure this type of pain.

"Can you imagine the harm they are going through, the trauma they are going through, the loss they are going to have to endure for the rest of their lives?" Mack asked. "I don’t think anyone can endure that type of pain and not get justice."

She added her family deserves a thorough investigation and answers.

“Robinson is someone who could be my daughter, anyone’s daughter, and I think the reason that people are so angry ... so upset is because she was around entrusted people ... who had some hand in the loss of her life,” Mack said.

Representatives of the NAACP are calling for those who were on the trip and anyone with information to come forward.

“If we begin to hold our own accountable then we can maybe see a change in the temperature in the community,” Rev. Sonya Campbell with the Charlotte NAACP said.

The organization is in contact with the family and will continue to provide them with support and push for a full investigation to be done.

“This is a citizen of this country," Mack said. "We so often fight for those who are all over the world. Fight for our sister. Fight for the Robinson family."

The family has organized a GoFundMe to help lay Robinson to rest. Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Macedonia Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

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