Who is Luis Garavito?
He was born on January 25, 1957, in Génova, Quindio, Colombia. Garavito has seven little brothers and sisters. His father was so mean to the kids and beat them up. His alcoholic father beat him up badly, and he also beat up his siblings. In this case, no one knows who his mother is, but people think she was a prostitute. His alcoholic father beat up his mother and made Garavito watch his mother have sexual relations with her clients. Garavito was sexually abused and groped by these clients.
Garavito told the police that he had also been sexually abused by his neighbours, one of whom was a friend of his father’s and the owner of a local drugstore. He also told the police that his father would beat his mother without feeling bad about it, even when she was very pregnant.
Garavito killed and tore apart a bird because he had nowhere to let out his anger. He said that after he was raped by another man, his homosexual feelings got stronger. As he got older and saw more heterosexual porn, he developed a strong dislike for it. Garavito said that this was when he first started touching his sleeping brothers.
At 16, Garavito decided to leave his home because he could no longer take being beaten and tortured. He first worked on a farm, and then he worked as a store clerk. Then he started selling religious prayer cards on the streets. He moved around a lot and did odd jobs to make a living. In the middle of all this, he was dating a single mother named Teresa. He was a stable part of her and the child’s lives. Teresa and Garavito’s friends say that Garavito was a very normal and friendly person, but he had a short fuse.
As he grew up and looked for work, he moved to different places. He also picked up his father’s drinking habits, which made him very mean and unfriendly. People who gave him a place to stay kicked him out because he was rude.
How did he choose his victims?
In 1992, Garavito began killing. He used to get boys to like him by putting on different masks. He pretended to be a priest, a farmer, a homeless person, a street vendor, a drug dealer, an old person, and a gambler. He got poor kids, like orphans, peasants, and homeless kids between the ages of 8 and 16, to follow him during the day by telling them they would get paid for easy work, giving them drugs if they were already addicted, and giving them small gifts, money, candy, and odd jobs. When Garavito gave these kids money, they were suspicious, so he paid stakes for kids who wanted to play games or do odd jobs. He even bought juice or cake from shops nearby and took them with him on long walks or to work (carrying crates of fruits, help with cattle, harvesting sugarcane, etc).
When the kids were tired and weak, he would take them to places with high plants and tie them up, beat them, rape them, and kill them. There were cuts in the neck or the head was cut off, and there were also cuts all over the body. Children were tortured for a long time, had bite marks in their genitalia, had glass bottles, knives, and other sharp objects stuck in their genitalia, and were cut up.
During the 1990s, the Colombian conflict got worse, and the government paid more attention to missing poor and homeless children than to poor and homeless adults. Since no one could say that these children were missing, it wasn’t known until November 1998.
In Nacederos, which is 380 miles from Bogota, 14 white boys were found in a mass grave. After forensic tests, it was found that the boys were between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. After 5 years, the bodies were found, but it was hard to figure out who they were. As time went on, it became important to find out who the victims were in order to move the case forward. Since the boys were either poor or orphans, they never got dental care, so the police had no way to match their teeth. In the end, the police had only two choices: a DNA test or putting together a face from the bones.
As forensics workers tried to figure out who the victims were, more boys went missing. Later in April 1999, John Ivan Sabogal, who was between 10 and 16 years old, goes missing in Villavicencio, Colombia. He went to sell lottery tickets. Maria Bertelda Lara and her husband went to the police to report that the boy had gone missing.
In Colombia, where there are a lot of problems, the police would have most likely sent them away. But because the number of missing children was growing, the police took the case. During that time, the prosecutor who was in charge of the case, Fernando Aya, found out about this missing report. He had been looking into 13 cases of children being killed for over 6 months. He told Ivan’s father that he would do everything he could to get the boy back home.
On the other side, a well-known forensic facial reconstructionist from Colombia named Mario Leon Artunduaga was helping the police. Since the kids were between 8 and 16 years old, their faces were not fully formed. Since the parameters for an adult face are different from those for a child’s face, he had trouble.
Police were coming up with ideas and following up on leads. One idea was that the killers were members of a cult because wax was found in the graves. The other idea was that it was a drug-related payback, but neither of these ideas helped the case.
Aldemar Duran, who was looking into the three murders in Genova, Quindio, paid close attention to the patterns of the killings. This led him to find similarities with other cases of children being killed across the country. He thought that the person who did it might be the same person. He started looking at similar crimes that happened between 1991 and 1998 and found a pattern.
Some of the patterns found in the children’s murder case were the way they were buried, the evidence found at the crime scene and at the burial sites, the position of the bodies, fibres from the rope used to tie the victims, and empty bottles found at the burial sites.
From the forensic analysis of the physical evidence, they were able to figure out that they were behind a serial killer who did it for sexual reasons. With the clues he had, Duran tried to figure out the killer’s pattern of behaviour. But Colombian law enforcement didn’t know how to make a psychological profile of a serial killer.
On February 6, 1999, more bodies were found in Palmira, which is about 60 km from Narcederos. Another detective, Carlos Hernan Herrera, was given the job. A pair of glasses, a pair of shoes, some underwear, and some money were all found at the scene.
When the evidence was carefully looked at, it was found that the left heel of the shoes had worn in a way that was different from the other pair. People thought that the killer had a limp that caused him to walk with his right leg turned a bit. Half of the pair of glasses was burned, which could have hurt someone. The killer could be between the ages of 40 and 45 or 55 and 60, according to the prescription on the glasses. The killer was someone who goes from place to place, as shown by the currency.
With all the information they had collected and analysed, they knew they were looking for a man who limped, wore glasses, was between 1.63 and 1.67 metres tall, and was between 40 and 45 or 55 and 60 years old. He also had a favourite brand of liquor that he never strayed from.
With these rules in mind, the police started looking for cases where young boys had been killed by people over the age of 42, who were between 1.63 and 1.67 feet tall, and where the bodies were found. About 25 people were being looked for in these areas where the bodies were found.
Duran went to Bogota to dig deeper, and after a few days of hard work, he found a case of a child who had been killed in Tunja in 1996. Renald Delgado, who was 12 years old, was killed and buried in the same way as the other victims. This shows that Renald was also killed by the same person. In the case notes, it was written that a store owner and a few prostitutes said they saw Renald with a man they didn’t know who wasn’t from the area. Luis Garavito was on the list of people who were questioned and then let go without enough proof.
During this time, investigations in Pereira led to a likely suspect named Pedro Pablo Ramirez Garcia. He had been committing crimes against children for a long time, starting in 1980. He was 44 years old, limped on his right leg, and was about the same height as the other people. He was found selling honey in a bottle that looked like the ones found in the graves. Two boys went missing in Pereira on October 1, 1997. Their bodies were found with signs of torture and sexual abuse, and another boy said that Pedro tried to rape him. Pedro was caught and put in jail because of all of these things. Pedro wouldn’t say that he did any of the crimes.
Just when the police thought they had caught the killer, four more children were killed in Bogota in a way that was the same as what had happened before. Mario, who was working on the Facial Reconstruction, was able to put together the faces of four of the victims using techniques from Russia, Britain, and the United States. The family also recognised the boys.
Duran was able to get in touch with Garavito’s family. He met Ester Garavito Cubillos, one of Garavito’s sisters. When asked if Garavito had left anything behind, his sister gave a bag full of his personal belongings that he had asked her to keep. There were papers, photos, and notebooks in the bag, but nothing that showed where he is right now.
Duran did more research and found out that Garavito was in court for the murder of a child in Corinto. He also saw on one of the receipts that money had been sent to a woman. He found the woman, who was carrying a bag that Garavito had given her and told her to keep. There were also papers, newspapers, pictures, bus tickets, and a few lottery tickets in that bag. They were like the lottery tickets Ivan was selling. There were also synthetic fibres and razors, which made them think that Garavito was probably the man they were looking for.
Since they had found burned things at Palmira, they thought that Garavito must have burned himself in the process and would need medical help. They looked into the hospitals and clinics near Palmira, but it seemed like he hadn’t been to any of them. Instead, he had driven six hours to Pereira and gone to the pharmacy there to get help for his injuries.
After a lot of thinking and looking at all the evidence, case notes, and reports, it was decided that Garavito was involved in all the cases and is the serial killer they have been looking for.
They arrested Luis Garavito and questioned him for eight hours, but nothing came out of it because Garavito refused to admit to his wrongdoings. Then, finally, they asked Duran, who was a seasoned detective and had done a lot of research on the crimes Garavito had committed, to talk to them. He talked in detail about the crimes Garavito had done, which made Garavito remember them and caused him to break down.
Luis Garavito told the police everything and said that he felt like he was being controlled by a bad spirit when he did the crimes. He also showed the police where he had buried the people he had killed.
Garavito was charged with 172 counts of murder, and he was found guilty of 138 of them. He was given a prison sentence of 1853 years and 9 days. But under Colombian law, the maximum sentence is only 40 years. Because Garavito helped the police with their investigation, his sentence was cut to 22 years. He should get out of jail in 2021.
Psychology of Luis Garavito
During the investigation, Garavito said that when he tortured his victims and watched them suffer, he felt strong and in charge. Garavito also took advantage of the Colombian Conflict, which caused a lot of trouble in society. He also said that it was fun for him to rape the kids, bite their nipples, and burn this side of their buttocks. The stronger the orgasm and the more pleasure he gets from it, the more pain the victim is in. He would even cut off the kids’ thumbs and keep them as mementos. Since he learned that dogs could smell the thumbs, he stopped taking them as souvenirs.
Garavito said that there were times when he woke up crying because he thought about the people he killed, but when he thought about the pleasure he got from killing them, he felt happy and at peace. He even kept a list of the people who died so he could pray for them. In January 1984, it came out that he had been in a mental hospital for 5 years. After he got out of prison, he planned and perfected his plan to get the kids to follow him.
He was told he had Antisocial Personality Disorder. He was the kind of person you’d expect an Intelligent Serial Killer to be. He changed his disguises skillfully depending on where he was, so no one noticed. Due to the violence and chaos in Colombia, working odd jobs didn’t raise any red flags, and poor children were happy to take them.
Garavito was used to moving quickly from one topic to the next, and he doesn’t talk about his personal life. According to the police, it seems to be a result of how he was treated as a child.
Garavito also seemed to have a controlling personality because he used the right social methods to reach his goals, like helping the police with their investigation to get his sentence reduced. He never really felt sorry until the end. From the outside, he seems friendly, open, and easy to talk to.
He even said that he had been drinking when he killed his victims. His drinking habits, abuse as a child, and the fact that he grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who used drugs must have had a big impact on him. Even as a foetus, the drug use would have had an effect on him, making him a psychopath. A forensics expert said that he was a sadist, a paedophile, and a psychopath.
He didn’t trust the people around him and was always worried that someone would poison his food. He will only take food from people he trusts completely. The public doesn’t know where his building is.
In honour of the children, scenes of children playing have been painted near where the first group of bodies was found.