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The so-called Wanninkhof case happened in southern Spain with the murder in 1999 of 19 year old Rocío Wanninkhof. After a jury trial conducted in a very charged atmosphere convicted Dolores Vazquez, a friend of her mother, of the murder, new DNA evidence appeared which proved the true killer was Tony Alexander King, an English expatriate.
The afternoon of 9 October 1999, 19 year-old Rocío Wanninkhof said goodbye to her mother, Alicia Hornos, and left her home to go visit her boyfriend, Antonio José Jurado, who lived nearby in the town of Mijas, Málaga in Andalusia.
At about 9:30 PM she said she would go home to take a shower and agreed to meet him again later at the fair in Fuengirola. After this she was not seen again.
The next day her mother told her other daughter, Rosa, to go to ask Antonio where Rocío might be. Antonio said he had not gone to the fair the previous night because he fell asleep but that he knew some of her friends had seen her there so he imagined she had just spent the night with one of her friends.
The mother was restless and decided to go out for a walk during which she found blood and clothes which apparently belonged to her daughter Rocío. She immediately notified the police, who cordoned off the area and a search began but Rocío could not be found.
The police centered their suspicions on six suspects, the boyfriend Antonio being the prime suspect but after questioning he was cleared. Another suspect was Dolores Vázquez who had been a close friend and lover of Alicia, the mother. Her calls were monitored and she was under surveillance.
After more than three weeks, on 2 November, the body of Rocío was found in a different place than where she had been attacked and murdered. The criminal had attempted to burn the body so that it was quite damaged and it could not later be determined if she had been sexually attacked but it was determined that she had been stabbed once in the chest and eight times in the back.
Dolores Vázquez became the prime suspect and she was questioned repeatedly but never admitted any wrongdoing. To the contrary, she proved she had been at home taking care of her mother and of her niece and had made some phone calls which were proven by the phone company.
But the murder had provoked alarm in the local people who demanded a quick resolution and the police indicted Dolores.
The trial was done with a popular jury which is a system with no tradition in Spain and which is being newly implemented. So far several jury trials in Spain have led to scandalous verdicts. Most factual evidence exculpated her but the prosecutor relied heavily in attacking the character of Dolores and her lesbian relationship with Rocío's mother Alicia. The judge did not intervene to curb such misconduct. In the end the verdict repeated word for word the prosecutor's allegations and found Dolores guilty of the murder of Rocío. All this was conducted in the middle of a media circus and feeding frenzy.
Dolores appealed and the higher court agreed and declared the case should be retried.
While she was in prison awaiting her new trial, in August 2003, there was a similar crime when 17 year-old Sonia Carabantes disappeared. In their investigation of this case the police discovered DNA which matched DNA found at the scene of the murder of Rocío. A woman soon told police that she suspected her ex-husband and when the police questioned him it was soon discovered that it was, indeed, his DNA. His name was Tony Alexander King and he was an English expat who, with his wife and daughter had come to live in southern Spain. It turned out he had a long criminal history and had served time in England for sexual crimes before changing his name and settling in Spain.
Dolores' upcoming trial was first suspended and then the case was closed and she was set free having been 17 months in prison.
In 2005 Tony Alexander King was sentenced to 36 years in prison for the death of Sonia Carabantes and to an additional seven years for an unrelated sexual attack he had committed. In 2006 he was found guilty of the death of Rocío Wanninkhof and was sentenced to 19 years in prison for that crime.
- For a more detailed account in Spanish visit the Spanish Wikipedia
- El País 1 sept 2003 Timeline of the Wanninkhof case
- lukor.com 18 nov 2006 Account of how it happened (Spanish)
- Plataforma para la libertad de Dolores Vázquez
- BBC, 15 nov 2005 Information about Tony King's past and about his trial
- El Mundo, 18 septiembre 2003 Trial postponed due to discovery of new evidence
- 20 Minutos, 2 feb 2005 Dolores Vázquez, cleared of all charges (Spanish)
- La Rioja, 21 dic 2006 Tony King found guilty (Spanish)
- ThinkSpain, diciembre 2006 Tony King sentenced to 19 years for the murder of Rocío Wanninkhof