We come across multiple mysterious case studies on our day to day basis. Some are heartbreaking while others are nerve-wrenching and some are a mixture of varied emotions. One such case study is mentioned in the ensuing paragraphs woven around a criminal named “Pedro Lopez”.
Background of Case
It was a bright sunny Sunday in Ecuador, a small mountain town of Ambato in 1980 during the festival of fruits and festivals. Although the morning was in complete hype with vendors setting up their stalls and customers rushing up the plaza, there was a sense of sadness and vigilance in the atmosphere.
The day passed by like any other day till 4 pm in the afternoon. The plaza was disrupted by a food stall owner Caralina Ramon and her friends chasing and catching hold of a man. He claimed to be a poor and innocent man but the vendors, not being convinced, handed the man to the local police. But why?
The news of the disappearance of dozens of young innocent girls between the age group of 8 years to 12 years flashed on the TV screens and covered the headlines of newspapers daily. In the initial phase of the disappearances of the girls, police didn’t take it seriously and claimed the girls to be run-away until a few raped and strangled bodies of young girls started showing up and a young 9-year-old girl, Ivanova Hakam, daughter of a famous and successful baker, disappeared. That is when police listened and declared a kidnapper and murderer at loose. There were no leads, no suspects, no evidence, and no sketch of the culprit.
Caralina claimed that the man she caught was under the pretense of selling chains and padlocks, was staring at her 11 years old daughter, Alicia, and gestured her to go along with him. Caralina suspected foul play and with the aid of her friends caught hold of Pedro Lopez.
At Police Station
At the station, the man revealed his name as PEDRO ALONSO LOPEZ and that he was a native of Columbia. He refused to talk any further for a few hours.
Gradually, he opened up to an officer, Pastore Cardova, who took the charge of the case and headed the investigation by gaining Pedro’s trust. He would offer him tobacco, coffee, chicken and beers to keep him talking.
In the process, Pastore made Pedro confess of his crimes which also included some heart-wrenching stories about his lifestyle.
Confession of Pedro Lopez
Lopez confessed to having raped and murdered more than 300 young girls over the span of the last 7 years on the lands of Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador. He didn’t show any sign of remorse while confessing to his crimes and told the story of each girl he abused with pride. His targets were poor girls with less education. He never targeted white girls.
He proudly claimed that the graves of all the girls were all over the country and he was ready to show the police each and every grave yard.
He confessed that he depended on his magnetic personality to lure the girls to lonely areas where their screams could not be heard by anyone. After satisfying his sexual appetite for the entire night, he used to rape the girls again in the morning, strangle them to death, cover them in newspapers or branches and leave them in a lake or a ditch.
Soon the news hit the general public like a hurricane. Various media houses wanted to interview him and Lopez relished the attention.
A 6-week long search was organized to search for the bodies of his victims. The first stop where Lopez took the police was in the outskirts of Ambato. He claimed that a 10-year-old girl, Garces Lozada, whom he raped and killed 10 months ago, was buried under that bridge. The skeleton found in the lake was unrecognizable but the family of the girl recognized the skeleton from the clothes on it.
The bones of the skeleton were completely corroded. While the father of the girl was completely shattered and wanted to take justice in his own hands by killing Lopez himself, Lopez stood there proud being guarded by a policeman on either side. The public pelted stones at him but the police intervened.
Lopez led the police to 11 Ecuador provinces and stayed extremely calm and normal while each grave was being identified. It was an overwhelming emotional ride for the policemen as they had to bottle up their frustration and anger till the very end.
Lopez remembered all the excruciating details from each site, even the dates when he committed the crimes. At one of the graveyards, he took the skull of a girl under his arm and posed for a photograph as if he had won a trophy.
The remains of almost 57 girls were recovered in 6 weeks.
The Beginning of an End
Lopez started regarding the police officer Cordova, as his father and called him ‘PAPA’. This was instigated due to the absence of a father in his life. Lopez’s mother was 3 months pregnant with him when his father died in a crossfire in Colombia’s Civil War on 9th April 1948.
Almost after 6 months, on 8th October 1948, Pedro was born in the Colombian town of Santa Isabel. At 5 years of age, his family moved to Espinel. Lopez claims that his mother was extremely abusive and was a sex worker. He used to see men come and abuse his mother every night.
At the age of 8, Pedro ran away from his home and started surviving on the streets of Bogota, Columbia amongst the violence and hatred. He used to depend on garbage bags for food and clothes. He had become a part of the city’s underbelly. He started smoking a highly dangerous form of cocaine and joined a gang for protection. He used to fight with knives and belts against other gangs for sleeping spots.
During these events, he was sexually victimized by a man in the lieu of a bed and a meal. He was taken to an abandoned building and raped. At the age of 10, an American couple felt pity for his plight and admitted him into a school for orphans.
He had two stable years but at the age of 12, he was again sexually molested by a male teacher at the school. He stole money from the school’s office and came back to the violent streets of Bogota.
In 1969, at the age of 21, he was arrested for stealing a car. Within two days of arrest, he was again brutally raped by two inmates.
In retaliation, Lopez carved a knife out of prison utensils and stabbed both of them to death. His act was deemed as self-defense and he wasn’t charged for the murders. But these murders marked the beginning of a journey in his violent life.
At the age of 23, when he was released from jail, he came out of the prison with an urge to seek revenge on the entire world and a vow of never becoming a victim again.
That’s when he started looking for easy targets such as girls to take revenge on or in his words, to save them from the cruel world.
In April 1979, he came to Amparo Ecuador after Columbia and Peru to search for more victims. In 1980, he was captured by a group of locals.
Arrest of Pedro Lopez
Pedro Alonso Lopez was charged with 110 murders in the Ecuadorian Court, while he claimed to have committed 200 more.
On July 31st, 1981, 33 years old Pedro pled guilty. According to the then rules of Ecuador, he received a sentence of maximum of 16 years (4 months for each murder he committed). It led to an outrage from the public and the victims’ families.
Pedro in Prison
Pedro was interviewed by various local reporters. He spent the time in prison calmly, knowing that he would be a free man by his 50th birthday. He also underwent a psychological evaluation in the prison, which declared him to have Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Untimely Release of Pedro Lopez
Pedro was released two years prior due to his good behavior. He was released after a sentence of 14 years on 31st August 1994. The parents of the victims and the general public came on roads to kill him themselves. Within an hour of the release, he was taken into custody again to be deported back to Columbia.
On September 1st, Ecuadorian Immigration Officials handed over Lopez to Colombian Authorities. Fearing that he may continue his evil practices, the authorities tried to convict him in a two-decade-old murder but he was declared insane in 1995 and sent to a psychiatry facility.
In February of 1998, he was declared sane and granted bail under few conditions. He visited his mother after the release and asked for his inheritance. His mother owned just a bed and a chair at that time. He sold those on the street and disappeared in thin air. No one knows his whereabouts since then.
Another murder happened in 2002 with the same pattern and sources linked that murder with him. But he is nowhere to be found.
In 2006, Pedro Lopez was titled as the world’s “most prolific serial killer” by the Guinness World Records. He is also known as the “Monster Of Andes”.
—— By Richa Aggarwal ——