Tristán Ulloa as Alfonso Basterra, Candela Peña as Rosario Porto, and Irish Whu as Asunta in The Asunta Case

The Perplexing True Crime Case Behind Netflix’s New Miniseries ‘The Asunta Case’

A new miniseries, The Asunta Case, is topping Netflix’s charts as it delves into the tragic story of Asunta Basterra’s (Iris Whu) murder, so let’s talk about the real-life case behind the series.

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The Asunta Case follows the story of Rosario Porto (Candela Peña) and Alfonso Basterra (Tristán Ulloa), who go to the police in September of 2013 to report that their young adopted daughter, Asunta Basterra, is missing. However, as investigators delve into the case, they quickly realize there’s something sinister behind the girl’s disappearance and hone in on two unexpected suspects: Asunta’s parents. The series takes viewers from the initial report of Asunta’s appearance, through the investigation, into the divorced couple’s turbulent relationship, all the way to their convoluted trial for murder.

The case became one of the most well-known in Spain and quickly garnered worldwide attention. Part of the reason it has stirred so much interest is that, even over a decade later, so many aspects of the case remain unanswered, including the primary question of why. To this day, the motive behind the murder remains unknown. For viewers coming away from The Asunta Case with lingering questions, here’s the true story of Asunta Basterra.

Who was Asunta Basterra?

Tristán Ulloa as Alfonso Basterra and Candela Peña as Rosario Porto in The Asunta Case
(Netflix)

Asunta Basterra was born Yong Fang in Yongzhou, Hunan, China. Due to China’s one-child policy, Asunta, like many newborn girls, was given up for adoption. In 2001, when she was just nine months old, she was adopted by Basterra and Porto, a wealthy and affluent couple from Santiago de Compostela. Porto followed in her father’s footsteps to become a prominent lawyer and inherited his position as Consul of France in Santiago, while Basterra was a journalist. After the pair married in 1996, they decided to adopt a child rather than have children of their own, due to Porto’s lupus.

Adopting a child from China wasn’t very common in Spain’s Galicia area, but Porto and Basterra successfully convinced the Spanish authorities to allow them to go through with the process. They were the first couple from Santiago to adopt from China, garnering media attention from the onset as they gushed in interviews about how “adoption is for life” and recommended it to other couples. Asunta also attracted attention as she was quite a clever and talented young girl, skipping a grade in school and participating in ballet while practicing piano and the violin. She was also very close to her grandparents.

However, leading up to her disappearance, her family faced some struggles. Both of Porto’s parents passed away within months of each other. She lost her mother in December of 2011 and her father in July 2012. The following year, Basterra and Porto divorced after he discovered her affair with Manuel García Rendo. For the next few months, the pair would struggle to reach an agreement on their living and parenting situation, especially as Porto found herself relying on Basterra’s aid due to her worsening health. Then came September, when the pair reported Asunta missing.

What happened to Asunta?

Prior to Asunta’s disappearance, there were a few strange incidents. Allegedly, on the night of July 4, or the early hours of July 5, 2013, someone attempted to murder Asunta. Porto claimed she awoke in the middle of the night to Asunta screaming and, upon entering the girl’s room, found a man dressed in black attempting to strangle the girl. However, upon seeing Porto, he pushed past her and left, leaving Asunta unharmed and Porto with a bruised cheek.

It would be easy to dismiss the incident as a fake story concocted by the parents. Yet, at the time, Asunta did mention to a schoolmate that someone had tried to kill her, and neighbors observed a bruise on Porto’s face. Porto allegedly did consult with police but inexplicably chose not to file a formal report. Some have come to believe the incident was her parents’ first attempt on her life.

Later in July, two instances occurred in which Asunta’s teachers observed she appeared to be drugged. As mentioned above, Asunta was a very clever girl, but on July 9 and 22, 2013, she was unable to play her instruments or even walk without difficulty. She appeared very lethargic, with Basterra claiming it was a reaction to an antihistamine due to her allergies. However, Asunta told the teachers she had no allergies but that her parents had given her “some white powder, which tastes terrible.”

On September 21, 2013, Asunta’s parents reported her missing, with Porto claiming she had left the girl home alone around 7:00PM. Upon returning at 9:30PM, Porto allegedly noticed the girl was missing. One day after she was reported missing, Asunta’s body was discovered several kilometers away from Porto’s house. The coroner determined she had been drugged with Lorazepam pills and smothered, ultimately dying from asphyxiation. It is believed she was given at least 27 Lorazepam pills, more than nine times the highest dosage allowed for adults.

Suspicion immediately fell on the parents, given that Porto’s story didn’t add up, as CCTV footage showed her with Asunta at a gas station around 6:20PM, despite her claim she had left Asunta home that evening. Investigators also found that Lorazepam was the main ingredient in Porto’s Orfidal pills, which she took for anxiety. Porto’s contradictions and inconsistencies led to her arrest on the day of Asunta’s funeral, with Basterra being arrested the following day after investigators discovered he had obtained 170 Orifdal pills over the course of 10 weeks.

A trial was held, and Asunta’s parents were both found guilty of murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison. However, the trial didn’t offer many answers. They were convicted based solely on Porto’s story inconsistencies, the testimony of Asunta’s teachers, and the Orfidal purchases. Neither ever admitted to murdering Asunta, though, and prosecutors failed to provide any substantial arguments on a potential motive. To this day, no one knows if there was any truth to the alleged murder attempt on Asunta in early July, why her parents had been drugging her for weeks leading up to the murder, or why they killed her. Although it’s suspected that Porto murdered Asunta and Basterra was complicit in it, it’s not even known for sure if one, or the other, or both carried out the actual murder.

We may never have concrete answers on the case, as Porto passed away in 2020, taking her own life while serving her prison sentence. Basterra is still behind bars, serving the remainder of his sentence, but continues to proclaim his innocence.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.