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The Asunta Case explained: Asunta Basterra's tragic death, parents' prison sentence and mother's shock passing

Will The Asunta Case be your new true-crime obsession?

Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
April 29, 2024
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Asunta Basterra’s murder shocked and devastated the Spanish community back in 2013, and her horrific death - and the subsequent investigation into finding the culprits - is now the subject of a new Netflix drama, The Asunta Case. Here’s everything to know about Asunta, and where her parents are now.  

Who was Asunta Basterra? 

Asunta was a young girl who was adopted from China when she was nine months old by a Spanish couple, Rosario Porto Ortega and Alfonso Basterra Camporro. She grew up in Spain and was said to be a very gifted youngster who skipped a year in school and had a talent for playing the piano and violin. She was also a talented ballet dancer. 

Defendants Alfonso Basterra and Rosario Porto waiting for the Jury to announce their verdict in 2015 © Lavandeira Jr/EPA/Shutterstock
Defendants Alfonso Basterra and Rosario Porto waiting for the Jury to announce their verdict in 2015

Asunta went missing shortly before her 13th birthday in 2013. In the weeks leading up to her death, her parents, who had divorced earlier that year but remained close to co-parent Asunta, claimed that they had seen a masked intruder attempt to strangle her in her room. 

Rosario claims that she tried to push him off her daughter and he ran away. She did not call the authorities at the time. After Asunta told some of her friends about the incident, one of the friend’s mothers called Rosario and encouraged her to file a police report. Rosario visited a police station but ultimately didn’t file a report. However, she lied to the concerned parents and claimed that she had. 

A Girl Looks the Mural with pictures of Asunta Basterra the 12-year-old girl© Lavandeira Jr/EPA/Shutterstock
A Girl Looks the Mural with pictures of Asunta Basterra the 12-year-old girl

Some people believe that the man was actually their first failed attempt at killing their daughter, that it was an excuse to give Asunta lorazepam, or that it was entirely fabricated. In the following weeks, Asunta was said to be dizzy in her music classes, and she told her concerned headteacher that her parents had given her white powder that made her drowsy. 

Asunta went missing on 21 September 2013. She was last spotted returning to her mother’s flat after visiting her dad’s home. Rosario claimed that she had left the house at 7 pm, and returned at 9:30 pm to find her daughter missing. However, CCTV footage was found of the mother and daughter at a petrol station at 6:30 pm. 

Still from the new Netflix drama The Asunta Case© MANUEL FERNANDEZ-VALDES/NETFLIX
Still from the new Netflix drama The Asunta Case

She then claimed that she had initially taken Asunta with her, but then had driven her back home. The police found no evidence of Rosario’s car in the areas where she claimed to have driven it. 

Asunta’s body was found on the side of a road 5 km from Rosario’s country house in Teo shortly after she was reported missing. During the investigation, the police discovered Rosario attempting to get rid of the contents of her bathroom bin, which contained the same orange twine that Asunta’s body had been tied with when she was discovered. 

Shortly after the discovery, Rosario and her ex-husband Alfonso were arrested for murder, and were unanimously found guilty of the murder of their daughter - with the court ruling that Rosario had been the one to asphyxiate her daughter, while Alfonso colluded in the planning. The pair were both sentenced to 18 years in prison. 

The show premiered on Netflix in April© MANUEL FERNANDEZ-VALDES/NETFLIX
The show premiered on Netflix in April

The Supreme Court dismissed Alfonso’s appeal, which claimed that there was no evidence that he was at the house at the time of the murder, due to his participation in planning. They said: “He participated on an equal footing with Rosario Porto and intervened in essential acts that led to the execution of the criminal act”. 

The motives behind their terrible crime have never been revealed, but possible causes include a financial motive, as her parents were set to inherit her wealth, as well as tensions surrounding their high expectations of her. The prosecution argued that the couple didn’t want to be parents anymore and that they were struggling with Asunta as she grew into a teenager. 

Where are Alfonso Basterra and Rosario Porto now? 

Alfonso is 11 years into his prison sentence at the Teixeiro prison in Spain. Rosario died by suicide in November 2020 while in prison. She had attempted suicide in 2017 after finding out that she was being transferred to A Lama prison, and again in 2018. She was put on anti-suicide protocol six times throughout her sentence. 

General view of Brieva prison, where Rosario Porto was serving her sentence for killing her daughter © Europa Press News
General view of Brieva prison, where Rosario Porto was serving her sentence for killing her daughter

Where to watch The Asunta Case

The show was released on Netflix in late April and can be watched with English subtitles. The official synopsis reads: “On September 21st 2013 Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra reported the disappearance of their daughter Asunta, whose body was found hours after next to a road outside Santiago de Compostela. 

Tristan Ulloa as Alfonso and Candela Peña as Rosario© MANUEL FERNANDEZ-VALDES/NETFLIX
Tristan Ulloa as Alfonso and Candela Peña as Rosario

“The police investigation soon reveals evidence that points to Rosario and Alfonso as possible authors of the crime. The news shakes the city and even the country. What can lead two parents to end their daughter's life? What hides beneath that perfect family picture?” 

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