Chicago-area teenager Alexis Uriel Marron was found dead in Michoacan, Mexico on Christmas Eve. The charred body of the 18-year-old was found inside the trunk of a burned out car along with the bodies of two local friends.

Police say the three boys were burned to death, perhaps murdered during a road-side robbery. Their belongings had been stolen.

Marron, whose family emigrated to the United States from the area of Quiringuicharo in the state of Michoacan in the 1990s, was visiting relatives and his new girlfriend while on Christmas vacation.

He was on his way to see his girlfriend, 16-year-old Jazmin Reyes, who lived in the nearby state of Jalisco in central Mexico when he is thought to have been killed. His family said that he left on the night of Dec. 23 and never returned. Reyes confirmed that Marron and his friends never arrived for their visit.

We don't know what happened, Reyes told The Chicago Tribune. I never expected this.

The brutal nature of the crime has led many to believe that the murder could be related to a drug cartel. Cartels are almost always an assumption in Mexican murder cases, especially in the state of Michoacan where rival gangs are battling for territory. According to The Associated Press, off-shoot drug gangs The Knights Templar and the New Generation Jalisco Cartel are active in the area, as well as the powerful La Familia Michoacana cartel.

Burning cars with people inside is one of the many horrific tactics used by cartels trying to send a message.

We don't know what happened. He was a good boy, a good student, no drugs. He didn't run with gangs, Marron's uncle, Martin Zendejas, told the Tribune.

A vigil for Marron was held in Mount Prospect, Illinois on Wednesday.