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The body of Barbara Salinas-Newman, an author, teacher and activist, was found in her New Mexico apartment last Monday, at least a year after her death.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the 70-year-old Chicana activist was found in her condo by her brother-in-law Louis Ponce. He told the paper Friday that he and his wife, Salinas’ sister Edna, decided to leave East Pasadena, California to attend a Cinco De Mayo event in Albuquerque. They hadn’t heard from Salinas in a long time and went to her apartment.
Ponce opened the door to find Salinas’ body on the filthy living room floor. He said that he had last seen her two years ago and “was very OK” at the time. However, he hadn’t heard from her since. He even wrote letters when she wouldn’t pick up the phone, but there was no reply.
He described Salinas’ body as mummified and “ran like hell” when he saw it. Ponce explained, “If you saw the apartment, you would never walk inside it...I never knew anybody could be that filthy.”
Police were called to the scene and said that the cause of death was natural causes. Authorities said that she could have been dead since October, but her family believes that she might have been dead for at least a year or longer.
According to The Associated Press, Salinas wrote Los Tres Cerdos: Nacho, Tito and Miguel, a version of Three Little Pigs and taught bilingual classes in Oakland in the 1980s. She founded Pinata Publications to publish her own work.
The family suggests that her life was unraveling before her death, as she slept in cars, ate in soup kitchens and her house was in foreclosure. Peggy Trujillo, a librarian at the New Mexico State Library, said that Salinas would tell her about her problems and her love for Eat Pray Love. “She was so passionate about the movie...That was her dream story,” Trujillo told the New Mexican. She said she hadn’t heard from Salinas since late 2011.