The brother of a B.C. photographer who was found strangled to death in Mexico said he’s struggling to understand what happened to his sister, who was also a respected painter one friend described as “vibrant.”

Barbara McClatchie Andrews, 74, was found dead Friday morning on the side of the highway that connects Merida with Cancun. Formerly of Maple Ridge, B.C., Andrews had been living in Merida, which is the capital of Yucatan state.

McClatchie said his sister enjoyed the company of other artists. She moved to Mexico about a decade ago, and he visited many times.

“She loved being part of the art community in general, I think,” McClatchie said.

He couldn’t imagine why anyone would harm his sister. “She is just a normal, middle-class person … not carrying a great deal of money.”

Andrews was first drawn to Mexico because her former husband was originally from there, her brother said.

Work appeared in National Geographic

Her son, Julian Andrews, said his mother was supposed to arrive home in Merida yesterday but never made it to her destination.

Andrews said he has not received any information from local authorities and instead heard the news from his mother’s housekeeper in Mexico.

Andrews’ work has appeared in National Geographic, as well as numerous galleries around the world.

McClatchie said he last saw his sister about six months ago but he talked to her regularly by phone. He said she loved Merida because it wasn’t a tourist town.

“I think she liked that it was a genuine Mexican city rather than a place that had become too much Americanized,” he said.

“She really just liked the originality of Yucatan and Merida.”

Another friend struggled to comprehend the tragedy. Deanna Geisheimer, owner of Artworks Gallery in Vancouver, worked with Andrews and carries her art pieces.

“She was very vibrant,” Geisheimer said. “She was very warm. She was friendly. She saw the beauty in everything. She just had a unique and different way of looking at things.”

Canadian consular officials in Mexico say they are in contact with local authorities to gather information, and are providing consular assistance to the family.