Colleagues of University of B.C. student Ximena Osegueda said they are shocked and saddened after hearing of her brutal murder in Mexico.

The bodies of the 39-year-old Mexican-Canadian and her partner Alejandro Santamaria were found decomposing and half-buried on a beach in the resort community of Huatulco late last month. Her ex-husband Jacy Wright and another man made the gruesome discovery.

The couple had been missing since Dec. 14 and few details are known about their murders.

Osegueda had returned to her Huatulco to work on her thesis for a PhD at UBC in French, Hispanic and Italian Studies. In a June 2010 blog, Osegueda said she was researching the foundational myth of Santa Maria Huatulco.

Jon Beasley-Murray, an assistant professor in the department of French, Italian and Hispanic studies at UBC said Osegueda will be deeply missed.

"What happened to Ximena is a great tragedy and a huge loss," Beasley-Murray said. "She will be very much missed in the department here at UBC."

University faculty have said they would support any memorials the students wish to set up. The university expects a large grieving community to gather for the teaching assistant and PhD candidate who has been described as vibrant and full of life. A memorial has also been organized for Saturday in Mexico.

Manuel de Jesus Lopez, an attorney general in Oaxaca, confirmed that the bodies were found half-buried in the sand with several stab wounds to their necks and bodies. The couple's hands were tied behind their backs, strangle marks were left on their necks and their bodies had been set on fire.

Identifying the bodies was delayed due to their poor condition but local police are connecting the violent murder with organized crime.

No arrests or suspects have been announced and motives are also unknown.

A biography on the UBC website said Osegueda taught undergraduate courses at Universidad del Mar in Mexico and was specializing in colonial Latin American literature, with a focus on Mexico, in her own studies.

She received an undergraduate degree in political science, and a graduate degree in Hispanic studies, from McGill University.

The news of her murder comes just days after Salt Spring Island's Robin Wood was shot to death during a home invasion in Melaque.

That investigation continues but police have described the crime as an isolated robbery.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Brent Shearer.