Missing Gwinnett teacher dies in Mexico

The J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee, Georgia, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
The J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee, Georgia, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

A Benefield Elementary School first-grade teacher who went missing in Mexico is dead, according to Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Relatives of Alexandra Morales notified Principal Shonda Gipson-Stevens late Tuesday of Morales’ death, said Sloan Roach, a school district spokeswoman. Gipson-Stevens talked to some staff members and called the parents of each of Morales’ students Tuesday night, Roach said.

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that Mexican authorities have charged Morales’ boyfriend in connection with her death.

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“We were all very hopeful that they would find her and she would be returning safely, but that was not the case,” Roach said.

Morales taught at Benefield since 2019, according to a letter Gipson-Stevens sent Wednesday to all families and staff.

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“Ms. Morales was full of joy and loved her students,” Gipson-Stevens said in the letter.

Gipson-Stevens had just sent a letter Tuesday notifying families of Morales’ students that police were investigating her disappearance. Her last known location was Guadalajara, Mexico.

She had taken personal leave but did not return late last week as planned, Gipson-Stevens said in the letter. A substitute was covering the class with the help of the school’s other first-grade teachers, Gipson-Stevens said.

A GoFundMe page to raise money for Morales’ family said, “Alexa was adored by her parents and loved by her two brothers. She had a passion for adventure and traveling around the world was her joy.”

She belonged to the Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señorita Latinas Unidas sorority, according to the GoFundMe.

“Alexa Morales made a beautiful impact in this world and we will carry her memory in our hearts forever,” the organizers said.