Kidnapping, Psychics and Rumors: Family and Fans of Jenni Rivera Believe She Is Still Alive

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Fans left flowers and photos at a candlelight vigil for Jenni Rivera in Long Beach Monday night. Photo by Matt Cohn.

Though her death was confirmed by both American and Mexican authorities who found no survivors in the wreckage of the plane she was travelling in when it crashed early Sunday morning, the family of Long Beach-raised singer Jenni Rivera are holding onto hope that the 43 year-old Diva de la Banda is still alive.

Speaking in front of the Rivera family home in Lakewood Monday, Jenni’s brother Juan said he continued to believe she was still alive, at least until he had confirmation that her body had been recovered. Family members of Rivera and others who were in the plane with her, including Jenni’s famous brother Lupillo, were expected to travel to the city of Iturbide, Mexico Tuesday to search the wreckage and await DNA results of the remains.

Investigators say it could take days to receive the results on the remains believed to belong to Rivera and up to 10 days to scour the wreckage and determine what happened to make the plane crash so violently. Many have reported that the crash site is spread over a large area and Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transportation confirmed that the plane—built in 1969, according to records—was completely totaled as a result of the impact.

The belief that Rivera is still alive and the sentiment of “not until I see the body” has been echoed by many fans and family members, including her youngest son who launched a growing social networking campaign to support the belief that his mother is merely injured somewhere nearby the site of the plane crash and not actually dead. 

“My Mama is alive,” 11 year-old Johnny Lopez Rivera tweeted Monday morning. “I lost hope but I got it back. She is not dead.”

The trending hashtag “#savejenni” was first used by Johnny after he discovered a psychic named Gilbert Salas had posted on Facebook that he “knows” that Jenni and her makeup artist, Jacob Yebale—who was traveling with her on the plane—were both badly injured but still alive. 

“Yes it is correct that Jenni Rivera is still alive,” Salas posted on his Facebook Monday. “I believe Jenni and her makeup artists survived, they are located 12 miles west from where they believe the wreckage occurred. It is located behind the mountain on theunderbelly [sic] side near a canyon. It is not visible from an aerial view because it is in a covered area. She is near a stream and she is able to hear the search teams fly overhead that’s how close they are to her.”

Salas posted again Monday evening saying that Jenni’s brother Juan is sending out four helicopters to search the area Salas specified. 

Many fans have come up with another explanation for the lack of confirmed remains for Rivera: she was kidnapped by the cartel. Violent Mexican drug cartels have since 2006 assassinated over a dozen prominent Mexican and Mexican-American musicians connected to the narcocorrido genre in brutal executions often after concerts and in broad daylight. And two years ago, Rivera received a curt but threatening message on Twitter that said in Spanish, “You’re the next to die,” but authorities could not link the account to the Zeta Cartel it was claiming to represent.

Most of the kidnapping speculations are confined to the Twittersphere and lack solid evidence, though Los Angeles blog LALATE reported Tuesday that the plane Rivera was riding in is owned by a man conencted to a Tijuana drug cartel. 

So far, however, rumors of Rivera being alive are just that–rumors.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.
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