Denise Pikka Thiem: Astorga Man Arrested By Spanish Police In Death Of American Tourist

September 15, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Denise Pikka Thiem, an American on a pilgrimage, who vanished in Spain in April, has been found dead. According to the police, an Astorga man named Miguel Angel Munoz has been arrested for the brutal murder.

denise pikka thiem

On April 5, Denise Pikka Thiem, a 40-year-old woman from Arizona flew to Spain to walk in the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which has existed for 1,000 years. More about the El Camino de Santiago below:

El Camino de Santiago, in English “The Way of Saint James,” is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Elder lie.Throughout pilgrimages—to Jerusalem, to Rome, and to Santiago de Compostela, a person could be freed from the penance due for sins.

Denise Pikka Thiem, who had traveled to Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam prior to her trip to Europe, vanished on Easter Sunday after attending mass in a church in the small town of Astorga. According to Thiem’s brother, Cedric, after church, she was seen having breakfast with an Italian tourist.

Cedric, who stayed in touch with his sister on a daily basis, contacted the authorities the day after she went missing. On April 14, Cedric, who was taking care of his aging parents in Phoenix, flew to Spain to help search for his sister, in vain. In June, Cedric told local media:

“I really feel that she got into a bad situation.”

On Saturday, the more than 200 people of 20 different nationalities hoping to locate Denise Pikka Thiem ended their search after the Spanish government announced that a body had been found, and an arrest had been made.

Miguel Angel Munoz, 39, took investigators to his farm near the Camino de Santiago, also called St. James Way, where he had buried Thiem’s body. The statement read:

“A person has been arrested and the search has been suspended for the moment. The suspect led the police to a body in an advanced state of decomposition hidden under branches. Pending an examination, it appears that the body is that of the American pilgrim.”

Via social media, many women on the pilgrimage revealed that they have been either attacked or approached by men wearing masks, who were masturbating. A 60-year-old woman from Germany named Josie claimed that she was held at gunpoint while in Astorga in early March. She revealed:

“It was kind of strange. I was trying not to look at him. I think he was masturbating. On the wrong path, a masked man attacked me with a stun gun. However, I was able to free myself and run away.”

Arizona senators – John McCain and Jeff Flake – provided some assistance to the family during the search.


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