Mexico Daily News
Justice appears unlikely in the case of a Canadian man who disappeared in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, more than a year ago despite the best efforts of his daughter to assist Mexican authorities.
Malcolm Madsen, a 68-year-old snowbird from Sutton, Ontario, who spent winters living in a treehouse on the Jalisco coast, was last seen on the night of Saturday October 27, 2018, in the Ándale restaurant and bar in Puerto Vallarta.
Security footage filmed inside the bar shows Madsen sitting at a table with a woman who his daughter Brooke Mullins identifies as his 43-year-old Mexican girlfriend, Marcela Acosta Ramos.
The footage shows Madsen leaving the table at one point and in his absence, the woman believed to be Acosta is seen preparing a substance that she would soon put into his drink. After Madsen returns, the couple are seen in close conversation before the woman opens her fist and drops what appears to be a powder into his margarita glass. She then stirs the drink with a straw.
Edited and condensed footage posted online by the newspaper Toronto Star shows Madsen sipping from his glass nine times in a 13-minute period before the woman repeatedly stops him from drinking more by pulling the straw away from his mouth.
Footage also shows Madsen and the woman leaving the bar together. The Canadian was never seen again.
On November 1, 2018 – five days after the disappearance – Brooke Mullins received a Facebook message from a friend of her father who said that he couldn’t reach him at Los Chonchos, a beach town south of Vallarta where Madsen lived when in Mexico.
Mullins tried to contact her father by calling him and sending messages to his cell phone and Facebook account. However, all her attempts to get in touch went unanswered.
Mullins told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that she was not initially worried because she knew her father had poor internet and phone reception.
However, after hearing from friends and neighbors a few days later that Madsen hadn’t been seen at his home all week, the situation became one of “full panic,” she said. Her father was reported as missing but local police didn’t appear to take the case seriously, Mullins said.
“They thought maybe he wandered off or was taking a break from his life,” she said. “They were not interested at all.”
Mullins told the CBC that she was informed by Canadian authorities that there was little they could do because the investigation fell under Mexican jurisdiction.
“I’m not satisfied with the help I received from Canada, and I’ve spoken to everyone you could possibly imagine,” she said in a December interview. “I am not content with the way the Mexican government has dealt with this. I do not feel like anyone is interested or cares.”
Frustrated by the apparent police inaction after her father was reported missing, Mullins traveled to Jalisco in November 2018 to see what she could discover for herself.
A week after her father was last seen at the Ándale bar, the Ontario woman said the bar owner allowed her, her lawyer and a few of Madsen’s friends to review the security footage. Mullins said she “felt physically ill” after watching the video in which her father’s drink appears to be spiked. “There was that physical reaction of realizing how serious this really was.”
Mullins said she took the footage to police but an officer accused her of “doctoring” it.
By accessing GPS coordinates sent to her father’s email account, Mullins also discovered that Madsen’s Toyota van had traveled to several different locations on October 27 and 28, 2018.
She said the data – automatically sent to her father’s email address by GPS provider Trackimo – shows that Madsen’s van went to a shopping mall early in the evening of October 27, a remote jungle-like area north of Puerto Vallarta three hours later and a marina in the early hours of October 28 before returning to Acosta’s home.
The data is at odds with a statement Acosta reportedly made to police that the van had been in her garage all night. Mullins said that Acosta also told police that she and Madsen left the Ándale bar early because Madsen was drunk. Acosta claimed that she and Madsen slept at his home in Los Chonchos and that the next morning, he got up, packed his bags and left never to be seen again.
Along with the bar footage, Mullins took the GPS evidence to police believing that it would help them solve the case.
“I honestly felt like I was almost divinely guided. I just thought I had everything. You know, I thought how could they not see how damning this is and get involved?” she told CBC.
However, Jalisco authorities failed to make any progress in the case and there have been no arrests, the news website Vallarta Uno reported on January 10. The website said that Marcela Acosta contradicted herself about the last time she saw Madsen in a statement to the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office but noted that neither she, nor anyone else, faces charges.
Vallarta Uno also revealed that Mullins submitted a series of emails to police that provided an insight into the relationship between Madsen and Acosta. The latter would frequently ask Madsen for money and to buy cars and real estate for her, the website said.
In July 2018, Acosta sent an email to Madsen (who was in Canada at the time) to tell him that she, her mother and her son were sick and for that she reason she needed to continue withdrawing money using a bank card he had given her. Madsen reportedly responded that he had no problem with her withdrawing money when she needed to.
In other emails, Acosta asked Madsen to buy a house for her in Vallarta so that she could rent it out, threatened to withdraw all the money from his account and accused him of giving her a disease. Madsen told Acosta that he was going to buy her a restaurant but turned down her request to purchase a house in Vallarta, telling his girlfriend that she could rent out his property in Los Chonchos and keep the revenue it generated.
In addition, Vallarta Uno said that lawyers hired by Mullins discovered that Madsen made a call on October 27 to a man named Gabriel who operated a water taxi that the Canadian would use to travel between Vallarta and Los Chonchos. It is the last known call that the Canadian man made.
Although there have been no arrests, Vallarta Uno said there are a number of suspects in the case including Acosta’s son and brother, who may have been driving Madsen’s van on the night of his disappearance.
However, with little progress having been made, Mullins stood before a court in Ontario in late November to ask for her father to be declared dead. The court upheld the request.
Mullins and her lawyers hope that authorities in both Mexico and Canada will treat a suspicious death more seriously than a missing person case, CBC reported.
“It was very hard,” Mullins said, referring to her decision to ask the court to declare that her father was dead. “I’ve been holding on to that 15% still that he might be alive somewhere out there being held . . . But I do know he’s gone.”
Mica Side Story
Andale's is in the heart of Puerto Vallarta's downtown. The area is very desirable and can only be described as extremely safe.
It's across the street from one of the oldest hotels in the area, Los Arcos. The restaurant/bar has become an attraction after it was featured on Bravo's TV show, Real House Wives of Orange County. The destination is a favorite of cast member Vicki Gunvalson. Some of you may know, I spend a lot of time in Puerto Vallarta and Andale's is more than likely where breakfast begins or the night ends for me.
That footage is a little bizarre, she appear to be a professional, which I do not know the exact nature of, but that was expertly done. But, what are we to make of that? Was it a sex thing? A drugging thing?
My guess is Acosta is a sex worker, who was using her relationship with Madsen for a personal benefit, a very common thing. The age difference, the financial material, but why end a good thing for Madsen?
If she is not a sex worker, it must be a similar sort of arrangement. Steep power and age disparity, plus she lived down there full time, while he was back and forth?
Why kill him?
He looks aware of powder being in his drink, so it must be a hard on stimulant .viva Mexico
Viagra or something similar was my first thought, like those scenes from often bad romantic comedies (Book Club) but she certainly concealed it from him, intentionally. She even runs out of time, and adapts to distracting his attention by whispering in his ear. She then stops him from drinking too much, which is either about concern for over dosing him, one way or another.
She doesn't seem like a women who has never crumpled up a powder and slipped it into someone's drink, the moves are practiced and deliberate, and she adapts very easily.
Another account of events:
It’s just after midnight on Oct. 28, 2018. Malcom Madsen, a 68-year-old snowbird from Sutton, Ontario, and his 43-year-old Mexican girlfriend, Marcela Acosta Ramos, are sitting at a table inside Andale’s Restaurant and Bar, a popular tourist spot in Puerto Vallarta.
The place is hopping. Customers in tank tops and shorts sip beers, down shots and sway to the music beneath a disco ball. A security camera, mounted on the ceiling, records the festivities, including what happens at Madsen’s table.
Security footage from Andale’s bar in Puerto Vallarta shows Malcom Madsen sitting with Marcela Ramos before his disappearance.
Madsen leaves to go to the washroom. When he’s out of sight, Ramos pulls what appears to be a white pill or powder from her purse and cradles it in her left hand. She scans the bar and then rests her hand beneath the table, out of sight, just before Madsen returns.
Madsen leans in close to speak into Ramos’s ear, and his sightline to his drink is momentarily cut off. Ramos brings her left hand up from beneath the table and appears to sprinkle the powder into Madsen’s drink. Then she stirs it.
About 20 minutes later when his glass is half empty, Madsen makes several attempts to take more sips but is stopped by Ramos. She gets the drinks put in to-go cups, and the couple leaves the bar.
Madsen hasn’t been heard from since.
It’s been more than a year, but Mexican police and Global Affairs Canada officials haven’t rushed to find the retired real-estate agent and jeweller. Madsen’s daughter and only child Brooke Mullins has pleaded with them to help find her dad.
Frustrated with their indifferent and sluggish responses, Mullins started investigating the case herself. She has taken multiple trips to Mexico and tried to retrace her dad’s steps. She, not the police, found the security video from Andale’s Bar. And she, not the police, found GPS co-ordinates that show the odd route Madsen’s van took during the wee hours after he left the bar.
Ramos has told Mexican police that she has done no wrong. Ramos did not respond to questions sent to her email address and Facebook account. A telephone number she had provided to Mexican police early in the investigation has been disconnected.
Since 2006, 374 Canadians died in Mexico in circumstances other than a natural death, including 59 who were murder victims, according to Global Affairs Canada. Roughly 2,600 foreigners have gone missing in Mexico since 2007.
Brooke Mullins seen with her dog Chico and a picture of her father, Malcom Madsen, from his younger years. Mullins is trying to find out what happened to her father, who disappeared in Mexico in October 2018.Rick Madonik
On Nov. 1, 2018, Mullins was at home in Port Hope, Ont., when she received a troubling Facebook message.
Patti Kerr wrote to say that her partner Robb Stasyshyn was expecting to hear from Madsen but hadn’t. They were neighbours at Chonchos, a small beach community near Puerto Vallarta where they owned treehouses. Madsen was to update them on what was happening at Chonchos.
Stasyshyn was scheduled to fly to Mexico from New Jersey a few days later and was concerned.
Mullins tried to reach her dad through the usual channels – phone, Facebook, text, WhatsApp. No response. She reached Ramos who said she hadn’t heard from Madsen either.
Stasyshyn phoned to say he had heard Madsen still had not arrived at Chonchos.
Her anxiety growing, Mullins flew to Mexico in what would become the first of many trips. She has since logged thousands of kilometres and says she has burned through more than $100,000. She has encountered what she believes is ineptitude on the part of investigators in Puerto Vallarta, an unaccommodating public prosecutor in the state of Jalisco and endless bureaucratic delays.
She has hired lawyers and a private investigator, all trying to find out: Was Madsen drugged? What happened to the $9,000 (U.S.) he customarily took to Mexico to cover living expenses? Where were his luggage, laptop and iPhone?
On the last night Madsen was seen, GPS data show his van at four different locations nowhere near the bar. Who was driving? And why do the data show this when Ramos told investigators that the van had never left her garage?
Mexican and Canadian officials say the investigation continues. René Ortega, with the Jalisco Attorney General’s office, referred the Star to the media relations department, where multiple messages went unanswered.
In January, Pierre Alarie, the Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, wrote to Mullins that Canadian officials are working with the Mexican authorities but “local police have full responsibility and sole jurisdiction to investigate and make arrests.”
“While I understand your frustration with the pace and progress thus far, the Government of Canada unable [sic] to influence the decisions taken by local police in any investigation,” Alarie wrote.
Global Affairs Canada told the Star that its consular officials in Mexico are in contact with local authorities but offered no other details, citing privacy laws.
The Mexican Embassy in Canada told the Star that in January it sent a letter to the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office outlining Mullins’s concerns and also forwarded a letter from Mullins’s MPP.
“Most people believe that this would never happen to them, and hopefully it never will, but if it does, you are completely on your own,” said Mullins, who set up the Facebook page “Justice For Malcom” to raise awareness about the case and keep his friends updated.
“The Canadian government will not support you in any way, nor will Mexican authorities.”
Malcom Madsen disappeared from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Oct. 28, 2018. In this photo from March 2017, he poses with a bird on his shoulder.Courtesy of Brooke Mullins
Income from his father’s estate and an inheritance from the sale of his mother’s house provided Madsen with enough money to ensure he could live a comfortable life in Canada and Mexico.
Madsen’s father, Marius K. Madsen, was one of the most successful prospectors in Canada. In 1934, nine years after emigrating from Denmark, he staked a claim in Red Lake, Ont., about 450 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. The Madsen Mine, as it is still known, would become one of the most productive gold mines in Canada.
As one of five children born to Marius K. Madsen and his wife Belle, Malcom never lacked for anything growing up.
“We could have whatever we wanted, it didn’t matter what it was, as long as we took care of it,” said Marcia Madsen, Malcom’s older sister.
As a kid, Malcom was fascinated by insects and always had some kind of critter around, which he treated as pets, said sister Marcia. As a young father, Malcom had a pet ferret, which his daughter remembers would shock people when its head popped out of his shirt.
After a career in real estate in Toronto, he became a silversmith making jewellery inspired by animal bones in his workshop at his home in Sutton. He toured Ontario to sell his wares at craft shows.
During the late 1970s, Marcia introduced Malcom to Dale Mullins, an Eaton’s and Sears catalogue model. Dale became pregnant, but Malcom was restless.
“Malcom never had that ability to want responsibility,” said Marcia. “Malcom really was that person that wanted to be with all his little bugs and creatures and do his own thing and have his own successes.”
Brooke was raised by her mother and only saw her dad periodically as he came in and out of her life.
“He’s like a Peter Pan. He’s just like the boy who never grew up,” Brooke said.
Malcom Madsen with his daughter, Brooke Mullins, in a 1978 photo, left, and again in 1983, right.Courtesy of Brooke Mullins
After Dale died in December 2007, of a brain aneurysm, Brooke, her two kids, and Malcom grew closer.
Brooke helped her dad find the Mexican treehouse he eventually bought to escape the Canadian winters.
The Chonchos treehouse appealed to Madsen’s love of nature. He kept pet scorpions in a glass terrarium, collected unique rocks and shells in a bowl, and displayed various animal skulls. On the wall hung a large tortoise shell. The balcony faced a secluded beach where Madsen fished.
A couple of years after moving into his treehouse, Mullins said, Madsen met Marcela Acosta Ramos, a single mother 25 years his junior, through some friends.
Emails between Madsen and Ramos show she asked him for money for things such as medication for herself and her father, hospital surgeries and a TV. Between October 2012 and October 2013, Madsen wired Ramos more than $4,000 (Canadian), according to Western Union receipts Mullins found at her dad’s home in Sutton.
He composed a letter to Ramos — Mullins found it in his computer but doesn’t know if it was sent — asking her how it was that she never seemed to have any money: “How did you ever manage before you met me? For you have being [sic] paying the rent a long time before you met me, and you did pay rent! Why since I have shown up, you do not have the money to pay the rent?”
Malcom Madsen with his girlfriend Marcela Acosta Ramos are pictured together in Mexico, around 2015. Madsen, 68, disappeared on Oct. 28, 2018 from Puerto Vallarta and has not been heard from since. Ramos has told Mexican police that she has done no wrong and that she last saw him that afternoon about to leave the house they shared to head for his treehouse by the ocean.Courtesy of Brooke Mullins
Madsen gave Ramos a Bank of Montreal debit card for one of his accounts. In 2015, he bought a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house in an upscale Puerto Vallarta neighbourhood for Ramos and her family. He outfitted it with big-screen TVs, new appliances, air conditioning, furniture, gym equipment and solar panels. He also bought a van, which, Mullins alleges, Ramos’s family would drive when Madsen wasn’t around.
“I think he was afraid not to have that family to help him in Mexico with things. He didn’t have the language. He was an older man. I think he felt secure,” Mullins said.
Then in April 2018, Madsen sent Ramos an email saying that he was considering selling the house in Puerto Vallarta and buying a condo.
About that time, Madsen confided in Stasyshyn that his relationship with Ramos was in trouble. But just before he was scheduled to return to Canada it was “all worked out, it’s all patched up,” said Stasyshyn.
Mullins grew frustrated with her dad because she said he seemed unable to see that he was being taken advantage of. During a trip to Denmark that summer to celebrate Mullins’s 40th birthday, Madsen said he was contemplating marrying Ramos.
This triggered an argument that ended with Mullins crying in the bar’s washroom.
After hearing from Stasyshyn that her dad hadn’t arrived at Chonchos, Mullins called the Port Hope Police Service, which sent an officer to take a statement. A few days later, the police reported that someone was using a Mexican ATM to withdraw increments of nearly $700 from Madsen’s CIBC account. A total of more than $4,100 was taken out in the four days after Madsen disappeared.
Ramos reported Madsen missing to police five days after he disappeared, according to a text message from one of Ramos’s brothers to Mullins. On the phone, Ramos told Mullins that Madsen had left for Chonchos in a taxi the day after their night out, a detail she also gave to police.
Ramos gave four police statements and told investigators she and Madsen took a taxi home from the bar and that Madsen was drunk. She said she carried Madsen, with the help of her son Carlitos, from the taxi to Madsen’s bedroom where she fell asleep beside him. The next day, she said, Madsen gathered his luggage, including three suitcases, a bag full of beer and a cooler, and left the house around 2 p.m. She said Madsen told her he would be back Nov. 3. Ramos claimed not to have seen Madsen leave because she was looking after her elderly father at the time, but she described what Madsen was wearing: beige shorts with a floral print, a black shirt and black rubber sandals.
She told police she knew Madsen for seven years and that he suffered from asthma, smoked marijuana and spent most of his time on his iPad and cell phone while staying at the house.
Ramos’s other son, Andres, told police he saw Madsen the next morning at the house too. Andres said he woke up at 11 and saw Madsen sitting “shirtless” on the bed holding his iPad and that he had a “blow” to his forehead.
Ramos also told police that she took Madsen’s CIBC card to pay for a washing machine being delivered to her home. It is not clear from her statement if police asked her if she knew about the cash withdrawals from that account.
“There’s no way my dad would have ever given her that card,” said Mullins, especially since Madsen had already given Ramos a BMO card.
She also wondered why, during that first call, Ramos allegedly asked for Madsen’s parents’ full names, where Madsen had grown up and what school he went to.
“I knew they were password questions,” Mullins said.
Ramos told police that Madsen’s Toyota van had sat in her garage that night. Yet a GPS tracking device on the van recorded the vehicle traveling to four locations.
Madsen had set up his account with GPS provider Trackimo, which automatically sent co-ordinates to his email account every time the van turned on and started moving. Mullins and her lawyer used them to reconstruct the vehicle’s meandering journey. That night, the van went to a shopping mall early in the evening, then three hours later to a neighbourhood about half an hour north of Puerto Vallarta close to a jungle-like area. Then, in the early hours of the morning, a marina, before returning to the neighbourhood of Marcela’s house.
Mullins provided the Mexican investigators with the password for the Trackimo account. When she later logged in, all the data was gone. She contacted Trackimo, which told her someone had gone into the account and manually deleted the GPS co-ordinates recorded the last night Madsen was seen.
It’s not clear what, if anything, the police have done with the Trackimo data.
In Ramos’s fourth statement to police, given in December 2018, she said that while at Andale’s bar Madsen had returned to their table with a small “hit” on his forehead that was bleeding, but he said he was okay. She said that when Madsen drank he “regularly” lost control of himself and on “several occasions” had hit his head. Ramos told police Madsen began to nod off at the table so she paid for their margaritas and asked for some disposable cups and “combined” the drinks.
She told police in December it is her wish for the investigation to continue, handed over the keys to the van Malcom bought for her and gave permission for investigators to perform tests on the vehicle.
During her first trip to Mexico, Mullins met with some of Madsen’s friends from Chonchos — a group she calls “Team Malcom” — and reported her dad’s disappearance to the Canadian consulate in Puerto Vallarta. She also made a missing person’s report with state investigators and provided a DNA sample to the local morgue in case her father’s body was found.
At Andale’s bar, Mullins asked the manager to let her view security video footage. In a cramped office at the top of a narrow staircase, Team Malcom watched the footage from a week earlier.
Mullins saw her dad sitting with Ramos around midnight but did not at first scrutinize the 30 minutes of footage. When her private investigator later pointed out the moment when Ramos appeared to have put something in Madsen’s drink, Mullins said she was “physically ill.”
The private investigator sent copies of the tape to the Jalisco’s Missing Persons unit and police later obtained their own copy. When she sat with investigators during her second trip to Mexico in late November 2018, Mullins said it was clear that they had not watched it closely. They expressed shock at seeing Ramos appear to sprinkle something into Madsen’s drink. One officer was skeptical: “How do we know she (Mullins) didn’t doctor (the video)?”
Soon after Madsen’s disappearance, the house in Puerto Vallarta went up for sale. After Mullins’s lawyer Ricardo Loaiza complained to the realtors selling the house, it was taken off the market. But Loaiza suspects it may have been sold this past October because it now appears empty and newly painted, according to his contacts. He is trying to figure out what happened, but is getting no help from local police, he said. A recent letter to Mullins from Global Affairs Canada said the agency is waiting for Mexican officials to confirm if the house has sold.
Loaiza said he had to file 17 motions with the Jalisco attorney general to try to force police to take basic investigative measures, such as dusting Madsen’s van for fingerprints, searching Ramos’s house, conducting luminol tests for blood traces and checking Ramos’s bank account. Some of these measures were completed months after Madsen disappeared, he said.
Loaiza said it took police two months to seize the van and when they did, they said there were no fingerprints whatsoever inside Madsen’s van. When Loaiza pointed out that this would be highly unlikely, police revised that conclusion, he said, disclosing that they did find fingerprints belonging to an unknown person.
Global Affairs Canada recently told Mullins that Ramos is asking police to return the vehicle.
Thirteen motions asking for police help remain outstanding, Loaiza said. He wants police to check the pink dress Ramos was wearing on the night of Oct. 28 for blood. He wants them to visit the four locations Madsen’s van was driven to. He wants them to seize Ramos’s phone.
“Everything is done so late and without much effort,” Loaiza said.
Loaiza said he does not know if police asked Ramos about the bar video footage or the GPS data.
Mullins last saw her father at his home in Sutton on Oct. 12, 2018, the day before he left for his annual fall migration to Mexico. She said she had a premonition that she wouldn’t see her father again.
“I just had this sad feeling in my heart,” she recalled. “And as I turned to pull away, and this was the part that really freaked me out, this sob erupted out of me out of nowhere. And I thought ‘I don’t have my mom, I need my dad.’ Then I thought, ‘Geez, talk about some serious dad issues. Pull it together.’ Then I drove away.”
This post was updated on .
It seems like journalist Jorge Olmos has gotten the case reopened again:
In reply to this post by J
I agree with the age sex worker probability. She was secretive about doing it while he was using the bathroom, but very upfront about mixing it in front of him because he already seemed wasted IMO. Sex workers in this area are known to have CJNG ties. As to why she decided to do it, possibly he was sitting on some liquid assets. I do feel bad for the daughter as this video gives the possibility of him being murdered legs.
Here are some pictures she posted one or two months after the disappearance:
Looks like she is grieving her late Canadian boyfriend. She probably deleted her facebook account recently.
Sad that so little is being done on the part of the cops to assist in this case and help the family, and curious since puerto Vallarta is known for its beautiful scenery and therefore much tourism. This tells me people who control the local force may have told them to back off. This unfortunate gentleman should have thought a little harder about the motives of his mate. Appears as though he was played in the worst way. The players are unknown, but the story tells itself in a way. I pray for the family, and for the victim himself. She sure don’t appear to be grieving the loss much based on the photos posted. Maybe she had no choice but to follow orders. We only know what we what the media tells us which is bullshit half the time
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