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Continued: Apple Valley man beaten to death pursuing his dream in Mexico

Kester was just a kid in Apple Valley when he became obsessed with rebuilding and repairing cars, and he was good at it. He worked as a mechanic in Minnesota before he moved to California, bouncing from Sacramento to San Diego before he left for Phoenix in 2004. He branched out to refurbishing homes, then renting them out. He hired Mexican immigrants, learned to speak Spanish and became attached to their culture of hard work, honesty and loyalty. He was disillusioned when many of them were deported, and decided to leave for Mexico in 2010 while continuing to manage properties in Phoenix. A stint in Puerto Vallarta proved too tourist-heavy, so he moved inland to Guadalajara in the western half of the country, where he fell in love with the locals and the rugged landscape.

The excitement is clear in Kester’s voice in YouTube videos he posted for friends and family back home, walking through the partially completed house and touring the land, explaining where he’ll put a field for his horses and the rocks they’ll use for a massive retaining wall to keep out roaming cattle. One of his friends chases him with a 4-foot snake pulled from a pond on the property.

His easygoing nature, enthusiasm and mechanical aptitude in the project show through. They’re the same traits that easily won him respect and appreciation, Barron Felix said.

“He was my teacher in many ways. In life, in work, in growing as a person, and now also in dealing with death,” Barron Felix said. “This world has lost a productive and affectionate person.”

Kyle’s parents admit that in the midst of a bureaucratic quagmire, the reality of their son’s death hasn’t hit them yet. Closure, if attainable, is far away, Harley Kester said, but justice could help the family find it.

At the very least, he said, “A [prison] sentence worthy of what they did.”

Memorial services were held for Kester in both Mexico and Phoenix. A third will take place in Minnesota on April 27 for his friends and family.


Abby Simons • 612-673-4921 Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028

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