The disappearance of 43 students who attended a rural teacher’s college in the state of Guerrero is a singular event in Mexican history. The students were taken captive by police and drug gangs on the night of September 26, 2014 in the city of Iguala; they have not been heard from since. It is a national drama, but also a personal and intimate one for the families trying to find the missing.

In southern Mexico, when you ask someone about their community, the answer is often given in terms of the number of families who live there. It is a reflection of the collective system in these decidedly indigenous communities. Around 70 families live in Omeapa, which was home to three of the young men who disappeared. Their families carry a grief that is hard to shutter inside their unassuming houses, which don’t have proper doors, just sheets hung in the entrance, blowing in the hot, dry wind. In Omeapa, as intimacy dissolves, private pain spills silently out of the three houses, runs through the lanes of the village, and the familial quickly becomes communal.

The photos in this essay, which is a companion to Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux’s twopart investigation of the disappearance of the 43 students, document how these boys had grown into young men before they were taken away. The photos also document the lives of those who are left behind to cry, to cope, to continue the search. The pictures are an attempt to show the intangible qualities — the customs and traditions that have always existed in Omeapa — and new, atypical attributes of sorrow that will undoubtedly change the village and its inhabitants forever.

 PHOTOGRAHY BY KEITH DANNEMILLER FOR THE INTERCEPT

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. Margarito Guerrero, father of Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz, one of the 43 missing normal school students, sits in the living room of his house in Omeapa, Guerrero.

Margarito Guerrero, father of Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz, one of the 43 missing students, sits in the living room of his house in Omeapa.

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. The mother and sister of Everardo Rodríguez Bello, one of the disappeared students, at their home in Omeapa, Guerrero. Mother-- Minerva Bello Guerrero. Younger sister -- Esbeidy Viridiana Rodriguíz Bello.

The mother and sister of Everardo Rodríguez Bello, one of the disappeared students, at their home in Omeapa.

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. A small altar with Day of the Dead flowers, candles and photos of Emiliano Alan Gaspar de la Cruz, one of the disappeared students, sits in a corner of the family's house in Omeapa, Guerrero.

A small altar with Day of the Dead flowers, candles and photos of Emiliano Alan Gaspar de la Cruz, one of the disappeared students, in a corner of his family’s house.

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. The parents of Emiliano Alan Gaspar de la Cruz, one of the 43 disappeared students, sit for a portrait in a small patio of their house in Omeapa, Guerrero. Mother -- Natividad de la Cruz Bartolo. Father -- name to come.

The parents of Emiliano Alan Gaspar de la Cruz, one of the 43 disappeared students, sit in a small patio of their house in Omeapa.

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with members of a criminal gang. Views of the interior of the home of Emiliano Alan Gaspar de la Cruz in Omeapa, Guerrero. His younger brother Brian Gaspar de la Cruz sits on a bed tha Emiliano slept in when he was sick and needed the care of his parents.

 Brian Gaspar de la Cruz sits on a bed used by his older brother, Emiliano Alan, one of the disappeared students.

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. A t-shirt imprinted with his photo asks 'Where are you, Everardo Rodríguez Bello?'.

A T-shirt imprinted with his photo asks “Where are you, Everardo Rodríguez Bello?”

Keith Dannemiller

Forty-three male students from the Raul Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared on September 26, 2014 at the hands of local police working in conjunction with drug traffickers. Brian Gaspar de la Cruz, brother of missing student Emiliano Gaspar de la Cruz, stands in the doorway of the family's home in Omeapa, Guerrero.

Brian Gaspar de la Cruz, brother of missing student Emiliano Gaspar de la Cruz, stands in the doorway of his family’s home.

Keith Dannemiller

Part 1 of Ryan Devereaux’s investigation here. Part 2 here.