Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pedro Lopez: The 'Monster of the Andes'

Mean Streets

Pedro Alonzo Lopez was born in Tolmia, Colombia, in 1949, during the height of the country's "La Violencia" period. This was in fact the last place on earth anyone would have wanted to be born. The country was ruled by riots and unthinkable acts of violence. The problems began just one year earlier, in 1948, when a popular Liberal politician, Jorge Elie�cer Gaita�n, was assassinated and a civil war broke loose. The war would continue for the next 10 years and take over 200,000 lives before it was over.
The son of a penniless prostitute, Pedro was the seventh of 13 children, and his early years could be described as anything but joyous. His mother was an overbearing woman who dominated her children with an ironclad fist. Regardless of his home life, anything was better than being out on the mean streets. Human rights violations by the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and members of the national armed forces were commonplace, and the country's crime rate was fifty times higher than all other countries in the world.
In 1957, at the age of 8, Pedro's mother caught him having sexual relations with his younger sister and his worst nightmare became a reality he was exiled to the streets and ordered never to return home again. As bleak as the situation appeared, things quickly began to look up when an older man picked him up off the streets, and offered him food and a place to stay. Pedro could not believe his luck and quickly accepted the offer in blind faith. Nonetheless, it was in fact too good to be true. Instead of being taken to a plush home with food and bedding, the man took Pedro to an abandoned building, where he sodomized him numerous times before tossing him out onto the cold hard streets.
Following his misfortune with the older man, Pedro became terrified of strangers. He slept in alleyways and deserted buildings, and would only meander out at night in search of food from trash cans and local dumps. It was almost a year before Pedro finally built up the courage to travel about the country and eventually ended up in the town of Bogot�. After a few days of begging for food and scavenging dumpsters, a resident American couple approached him. The elder couple was distressed by Pedro's skeletal appearance and was heartbroken watching him beg for food. They provided him with a warm meal and asked him to come live with them. With little other choices left, Pedro accepted their offer and went home with the couple. He was provided with free room and board and eventually enrolled in a day school for orphans.

False Hope

Regardless of Pedro's apparent good fortune, as with everything else in his life, it was not meant to be. In 1963, at the age of 12, a male teacher sexually molested him at his day school. All of Pedro's previous fears were reborn and anger grew within him. Following the incident, he stole money from an office in the school and ran away from home.
Pedro returned to the only safe place he knew his first true home, the streets of Colombia. The country's civil war was becoming a thing of the past and the cold war was nearly over. The government was reorganizing, and factories, which had been built during the depression, were slowly beginning to reopen. Nonetheless, Pedro had never been skilled in any trades and held only a minimal education. He spent the next six years of his life begging for food and committing petty thefts in order to survive.
By his mid-teens, Pedro began stealing cars to support himself. He had little to lose and local chop shops paid him well for his services. He was a very proficient car thief and was looked up to by younger apprentices of the trade.
In spite of his skills, in 1969, 18-year-old Pedro was arrested by authorities for car theft and sentenced to serve seven years in prison. He served just two days behind bars before being brutally gang-raped by four older inmates. Following this most recent attack, Pedro swore to himself that no one would ever touch him again. In retaliation, he fashioned a crude knife from prison utensils and spent the following two weeks getting his revenge by individually murdering each of the four men that had raped him. Authorities deemed the murders self-defense, and simply added an additional two years to Pedro's initial sentence for the car theft.
Prison time, combined with his previous hardships, did irreparable damage to Pedro's mind and seemed to have pushed him over the edge of what little sanity he still held dear. Due to mental abuse he endured at the hands of his mother during his early years, he had grown fearful of women. He found social intercourse with them impracticable, and fulfilled his desires through pornographic books and magazines. In Pedro's mind, his mother was to blame for all of his life's suffering and heartaches.

A Madman Captured


Ayacucho on map of Peru (AP)
Ayacucho on map of Peru (AP)
Upon his release from prison in 1978, Pedro traveled widely throughout Peru. It was during this time that he later claimed to have begun stalking and killing at least 100 young girls from various Indian tribes throughout the region. While it is impossible to verify these claims, it is known that he was captured by a group of Ayacuchos, in northern Peru, while attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl. The Indians stripped and tortured Pedro for hours before deciding to bury him alive. Nonetheless, luck was apparently on his side, because an American missionary intervened and convinced his captors that murder was ungodly and that they should turn Pedro over to the proper authorities. They reluctantly agreed and remanded their prisoner over to the Peruvian authorities. Not wanting to waste time investigating petty Indian complaints, the Peruvian Government deported Pedro back to Ecuador.
Following his return to Ecuador, Pedro began traveling extensively around the region, including frequent stops in Colombia. Authorities soon began to notice an increase in missing persons cases involving young girls, however they quickly concluded that they were due to the growing South American sex slave rings.

Ecuador flooding (AP)
Ecuador flooding (AP)
In April of 1980, a flash flood near Ambato, Ecuador, caused authorities to take a second look at their missing persons cases when the raging waters unearthed the remains of four missing children. While it was difficult for them to determine the causes of death, they concluded that the girls had obviously met foul play since someone had taken pains to hide their bodies from prying eyes.
Just days after the flash flood, a local resident, Carvina Poveda, was shopping at a local marketplace with her 12-year-old daughter Marie, when an unknown man attempted to abduct the young girl. Carvina cried out for help as the man tried to flee the market with her daughter in his arms. Local merchants quickly came to her aide, chased the man down before he could make his escape, and held him down as the authorities were summoned.
Pedro was rambling incoherently when police arrived at the scene. As they traveled back to headquarters with their suspect in tow, their initial conclusion was that they had a madman in custody.

Horrid Revelations


Pedro Lopez in custody
Pedro Lopez in custody
Once back at police headquarters, Pedro refused to cooperate with authorities and remained silent throughout their lines of questioning. Investigators soon realized that they would have to employ a different strategy in order to get their suspect to talk. One of the officers soon suggested that they dress up a local priest, Father Cordoba Gudino, in prison garb and place him in a cell with Pedro. The plan was for Father Gudino to win the suspect's confidence and get him to discuss his crime.
It did not take long for Pedro to begin talking, and by the next day he had revealed such repulsive acts of violence to the padre, that he could hear no more and asked to be taken out of the cell. Following a brief interview with Father Gudino, investigators confronted Pedro with their newly acquired evidence and he finally broke down.
Pedro confessed to investigators that he had murdered at least 110 girls in Ecuador, 100 in Colombia, and "many more than 100" in Peru. "I like the girls in Ecuador," he told them. "They are more gentle and trusting, more innocent. They are not as suspicious of strangers as Colombian girls." In the course of his confessions, Pedro blamed his crimes on his hard life and lonely adolescence. "I lost my innocence at age eight," he explained, "so I decided to do the same to as many young girls as I could." When asked how he was able to pull off his self-professed crimes, Pedro informed them that he often times trolled village markets for selected targets with "a certain look of innocence." He always searched for his victims in full daylight, because he did not want darkness to hide their throes of death from him. When asked what he meant by this, Pedro explained that he would first rape his victim, and then strangle them as he stared into their eyes. He claimed to feel deep pleasure and sexual excitement watching their life fade before him. He went on to state that the horror would even continue after their death he would often times act out gruesome tea parties with the bodies of the dead little girls propping them up and talking to them.
Police were initially skeptical of Pedro's grisly, almost incredible confessions, and liaisons with Peru and Colombia were unable to substantiate them. As Pedro realized that investigators doubted the truthfulness of his claims, he offered to lead them to several burial spots throughout the country. With little else that they could do, investigators agreed and put the plan into action.

Final Justice

Just days after his initial confession, Pedro was taken from police headquarters in leg irons so that he could direct a police caravan to his various dump sites. The investigators' doubts soon began to vanish when Pedro led them to a secluded area in the vicinity of Ambato, where they discovered the remains of 53 girls, aged eight to twelve. Throughout the day, Pedro led them to 28 other sites, however no other bodies were discovered. Some of the investigators felt that animals had most likely scattered the remains and floods had washed what little was left away.
Upon arrival back at police headquarters, Pedro was quickly charged with 57 counts of murder, however Pedro saw the ante boosted to 110 as a result of his detailed confessions. The director of prison affairs, Victor Lascano, later explained: "If someone confesses to 53 you find, and hundreds more, you tend to believe what he says." Lascano also told reporters that, "I think his estimate of 300 is very low."
No information is readily available on Pedro's brief trial, however it is known that sometime in late1980, Pedro Alonso Lopez was convicted on multiple counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
One chilling pattern that emerges about serial killers in general is the number of them reported to have been the children of prostitutes. Henry Lee Lucas, one of this century's most infamous serial killers, apparently started his rampage with the rape and killing of his own mother, a prostitute.

Robert K. Ressler (Louis Myrie/LMI)
Robert K. Ressler (Louis Myrie/LMI)
"It's part of the profile," former FBI profiler Robert Ressler once said. "Serial killers very often have obsessions of some kind with their mothers. A love-hate relationship, in popular language. These moms usually aren't candidates for mother of the year, although they aren't necessarily abusive either. The common thread seems to be the sexual element, mothers who were very seductive, who had many sex partners of which the son was aware. Of course, the children of prostitutes are more likely to be exposed to this type of behavior."

Aftermath


Pedro Lopez, head shot
Pedro Lopez, head shot
In January of 1999, Pedro Lopez gave an exclusive, one-time-only interview, to National Examiner correspondent Ron Laytner. The following are excerpts taken from that interview:
"I am the man of the century," Lopez bragged to Laytner while in prison in Ecuador. "No one will ever forget me.
"I went after my victims by walking among the markets searching for a girl with a certain look on her face a look of innocence and beauty. She would be a good girl, working with her mother. I followed them sometimes for two or three days, waiting for when she was left alone. I would give her a trinket like a hand mirror, then take her to the edge of town where I would promise a trinket for her mother.
"I would take her to a secret hideaway where prepared graves waited. Sometimes there were bodies of earlier victims there. I cuddled them and then raped them at sunrise. At the first sign of light I would get excited. I forced the girl into sex and put my hands around her throat. When the sun rose I would strangle her.
"It was only good if I could see her eyes, it would have been wasted in the dark I had to watch them by daylight. There is a divine moment when I have my hands around a young girl's throat. I look into her eyes and see a certain light, a spark, suddenly go out. The moment of death is enthralling and exciting. Only those who actually kill know what I mean.
"When I am released I will feel that moment again.
"It took the girls five to 15 minutes to die. I was very considerate. I would spend a long time with them making sure they were dead. I would mirror to check whether they were still breathing. Sometimes I had to kill them all over again," he admitted.
"They never screamed because they didn't expect anything would happen. They were innocent."
"My little friends liked to have company," he said. "I often put three or four into one hole. But after a while I got bored because they couldn't move, so I looked for more girls."
As of this writing, Pedro is still in prison in Ecuador, and may get a chance for parole. However, if released he will be required to stand additional trials in Colombia and Peru.

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