N.M. Mummified Body: Who Was Chicana Author Barbara Salinas-Norman And Why Was She Found Dead In Santa Fe Apartment?

By Philip Ross on May 14, 2013 1:17 PM EDT

N.M. mummified body
Chicana author, activist and teacher Barbara “Bobbi” Salinas-Norman, whose mummified body was discovered in an apartment in Santa Fe, N.M., wrote “Los Tres Cerdos: Nacho, Tito, and Miguel,” her version of “Three Little Pigs.” (Photo: Amazon)

The mummified body of a Chicana author was found lying in a Santa Fe, N.M., apartment. Authorities believe the N.M. mummified body of 70-year-old Barbara Salinas-Norman had been lying in the cluttered apartment for over a year.

According to AP, the decomposed remains of Salinas were discovered last week. Her brother-in-law, Louis Ponce, encountered her mummified body after he became concerned about Salinas' well-being because she hadn't returned his phone calls for over two years. The Daily Mail reports that Ponce and his wife drove out to New Mexico from Pasadena, Calif., to find out what happened to Salinas.

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When the couple went to Salinas' Zia Vista condo, a gated condo complex on the outskirts of Santa Fe, they found the door was unlocked. Inside, they found a condo littered with all kinds of books, papers, paintings and pictures, including one of Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician and guerrilla leader.

And there, in the middle of the floor, was the mummified body of Salinas. The New Mexican reports that her decomposing remains lay near a poster showing the iconic female U.S. factory worker Rosie the Riveter as a skeleton, with a red cloth on her head and her arm raised in a fist under the caption, "Si, Se Muere!"

Ponce called the police from his cellphone. "If you saw the apartment, you would never walk inside it," Ponce told the New Mexican. "I never knew anybody could be that filthy."

Investigators said "Bobbi" Salinas died over a year ago from natural causes.

According to the New Mexican, before her death and subsequent discovery, Salinas' life had started to fall apart. She was a hoarder and a recluse, and even showered at the local library after her water was shut off due to unpaid bills. From the New Mexican:

Stories from friends and family suggest Salinas' life had been unraveling for some time. She often slept in her car and washed up in the bathroom at a local library. The gas and electricity had been turned off in her condo because she wasn't paying her bills. She ate at soup kitchens. Her home was in foreclosure.

Family members, however, who have posted to online obituaries memorializing the author, remember Salinas for the person she was and not the shambolic apartment she left behind.

"This was such shocking news to me. Remember years of family times in So. Cal. We had such fun as cousins do. My family sends payers and condolences to all of Bobby's family. Cousin Gil Zavala," one individual, identified as "Gil Zavala, Cousin, Rathdrum, ID," noted on an obituary website.

"Shock to hear about Bobbi. Remembering gattherings for sleep overs, holidays, and birthday parties were the best times we had growing up together! Don't forget going to church for Sunday Mass! Luv & prayers," another self-described cousin, Claudia Zavala-Santori, wrote.

Who was the woman whose mummified body was discovered in New Mexico, and how did her body go unnoticed for so long?

Salinas, a Mexican-American, grew up in East Los Angeles. She had four sisters -- one of who became a nun -- and a brother. According to the New Mexican, Salinas father worked for the water and power company and both her parents were native to New Mexico.

Salinas went to college at California State University in Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor's degree in education. She then attended the University of California, Berkeley, and received a master's degree in public health education.

She later founded a publishing company called Piñata Publications and began writing and illustrating her own books. She also taught in Oakland, Calf., but quit to pursue writing full time. Salinas' first book was a bilingual ABCs workbook for children.

She is perhaps best known for the book "Los Tres Cerdos: Nacho, Toto, And Miguel" (available on Amazon), her interpretation of the "Three Little Pigs" with a Chicano twist. In Salinas' tale, the three pigs dress in zoot suits and don cowboy hats and guayaberas, a traditional men's shirt. They also eat fresh tortillas and roast corn.

The mummified body of Salinas lay in the apartment for over a year, mainly because some family members believed the author had moved to Spain.

Read more from iScience Times:

Ancient Inca Mummy had Lung Infection at Time of Sacrificial Death

Corpse Found In L.A. Hotel's Water Tank; Elisa Lam Rots In Hotel Cecil Rooftop Tank For Three Weeks

Richard III's Kingly Corpse Unearthed Under Parking Lot; Where Will He Be Reburied?

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