Abdul Latif Sharif
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Abdul Latif Sharif
Adbul Latif Sharif
19 September 1947
|Died||2 June 2006 (aged 58)|
|Other names||"The Ciudad Juárez Predator"|
|Criminal penalty||60 years in prison|
Abdul Latif Sharif, first name also spelled Abdel (September 19, 1947 – June 1, 2006), was an Egyptian-born American chemist and chief suspect in the Juárez killings, a decade-long murder spree that began in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez in the early 1990s.
Childhood and youth
Sharif was born into a Muslim family in Egypt as an only child. Growing up he suffered constant sexual abuse from his father and several male relatives. Although his father was opposed to him attending school, Sharif showed signs of above-average intelligence, spending his time training carrier pigeons and fishing in the river. At age 12, at his father's behest, he agreed to marry to his 10-year-old cousin, but three years later Sharif abandoned that promise to instead travel to the United States. His family disapproved and his aunt allegedly cast a spell upon him.
In Egypt, Sharif studied chemical engineering at Cairo University, where he achieved an average of 9.9. Working as a high school and university instructor, he spent some time in the Soviet Union before traveling to New York to find work in cosmetics, paint, and skin-care companies. He was considered to be professional, attractive, and successful. Women became his obsession during his 21-year stay in the United States. He married twice and had five other partners with whom he lived for long periods.
Arrival and life in America
Sharif emigrated legally to the United States in 1970, arriving in New York, where he began a job at which he remained employed eight years until being fired in 1978 because of his alcohol problems. He then moved to Pennsylvania, where he resided for three years. In 1981 he moved to Florida, where he was employed in the company Cercoa, Inc. During this time, he committed his first sexual assaults; in 1982, he got married but they quickly divorced as a result of his violence toward his wife. He remained a prominent chemist, and during a stay in Mexico he kept patents on various petrochemical processes he had invented.
Imputation for sexual abuse
According to official accounts, Sharif was a promiscuous alcoholic and pedophile. He allegedly tortured dying animals during his hunting expeditions and collected girls' clothes. According to other sources, this characterization of Sharif was an invention of the prosecution to make credible accusations against him.
Sharif's first alleged sexual assault took place on 2 May 1981 in North Palm Beach, Florida, where he tricked a woman by promising her a job as a housekeeper. He kidnapped the woman, beat her, and sexually assaulted her. Afterwards he let the woman go, with the woman claiming that he said:
|“||Oh, did I hurt you? I think you should go to a hospital.||”|
|— Abdul Latif Sharif towards the woman.|
Sharif's defence was provided by Cercoa, Inc. Though Sharif argued that the sex was consensual, he was convicted on charges of assault, rape, and illegal deprivation of liberty, and was released on parole.
Almost immediately after leaving prison, in August 1981, he assaulted another woman. On this occasion he was sentenced to 45 days in prison after a defense once again financed by Cercoa, Inc. Curiously, Sharif was not dismissed until 1982.
In 1982, after his dismissal, he moved to Gainesville, Florida, where he married. This wife also soon divorced him after he had beaten her to unconsciousness. On 17 March 1983, Sharif's third rape was reported. He again used the deception of a job as a housekeeper, luring a woman to his house. He hit, raped, and threatened her, but she managed to escape and report him. This time, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison, in 1984.
After spending only 5 years in prison, Sharif was released in 1989, but he was not deported to Egypt even though the judge had ruled that this would be the case. That year he moved to Midland, Texas, where he was hired by the transnational company Benchmark Research and Technology. In 1991 he was arrested for drunk driving but was again not deported. In 1993 he allegedly raped a woman again, and his defense was sponsored by Benchmark Research and Technology. He was released on parole with the promise that he would never step foot on American soil again.
On 14 May 1994, Sharif moved to Ciudad Juárez, still technically working as a Benchmark employee.
The incidents in which he was involved in the U.S. were the following:
- Joanne Collins Poldesmink (3 March 1981 in North Palm Beach, Florida)
Joanne was Sharif's girlfriend, towards whom he was allegedly verbally abusive. Collins filed legal charges against Sharif, which she later dropped.
- Janet Stroven, sexual assault
Sharif met this woman in a hotel bar where he attended a chemist convention. Stroven would later file sexual assault charges against Sharif.
- Molly Fleming, sexual assault (2 May 1981)
Sharif was accused by his neighbor Molly Fleming of drugging and sexually assaulting her. He was given 5 years of conditional release.
- Susan Wait, sexual assault
Wait was a university student who lived in Sharif's house. She accused him of assault and the police arrested him for this and for transferring his parole from a previous incident. He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison, of which he served 5 years and 4 months. While imprisoned he taught chemistry to his fellow inmates.
- Nancy Díaz, sexual assault (Midland, Texas)
Díaz accused Sharif of sexual assault, but the charges were eventually dropped.
Due to these five incidents, Sharif was deported from the United States.
Sharif's first alleged murder occurred in Mexico in March 1995, but there were indications that he was a scapegoat of the Chihuahua Attorney General's Office, who made him into a serial killer. It was claimed that he could have begun killing from 1978 to 1981 while still residing in Pennsylvania, when the unsolved disappearances of several women and girls occurred. However, Sharif was never connected to these events.
Upon his arrival in Mexico in 1994, Sharif settled in the luxurious and exclusive Rinconadas de San Marcos neighbourhood of Ciudad Juárez, with all the expenses sponsored by the company he worked for. Sharif distinguished himself as an intelligent man, patenting 25 chemical formulas. It was here that his prolific career as a serial killer allegedly lasted from 1994 to 1995.
Detention, trial and conviction
On 3 October 1995, Sharif was reported by a prostitute, 19-year-old Blanca Estela Díaz, as having kidnapped her for three days, during which she was beaten, raped, and threatened with death. The charges were dismissed on the grounds that, contrary to her claims, there were no signs of sexual abuse. However, the Chihuahua government was being pressured to find the perpetrator of the Ciudad Juárez femicides in Lote Bravo and Sharif, with his criminal background, was the ideal candidate to be the serial killer. The Chihuahua Attorney General's Office sought to establish him as responsible for the multiple homicides.
Within 20 minutes of his release, Sharif was remanded for the disappearance of Elizabeth Castro García, a 17-year-old girl with whom Sharif allegedly had a relationship. Elizabeth's sister, Eunice, had reported her disappearance on 15 August 1995.
The corpse of a woman who matched Castro's description was found buried in the desert of Lote Bravo, but the investigation took a turn when it was found that Elizabeth Castro was alive and that the body was that of a woman who disappeared in March 1995, Silvia Rivera Salas. According to witnesses, Silvia had been kidnapped by two suspects in a van.
Sharif was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison for the death of Silvia Rivera Salas. A new criminal proceeding was also opened, accusing him of murdering 17 other women.
While he was in prison, corpses of raped and strangled women continued to appear in different areas of Ciudad Juárez. The authorities sold an image of Sharif to the press portraying him as the psychopathic rapist killer who controlled the murders from prison.
Sharif was known in Ciudad Juárez as a sexual criminal with a long history of assaulting women, and it was not difficult for all to believe that he was responsible for the murders. In addition to the prosecution and the Chiahuahuan government, the people believed that one person could be put in place as the sole perpetrator. This claim calmed the families of the murdered and not the national, but the international press that had its sights on Ciudad Juárez - Sharif did not speak Spanish, was a foreigner, without family and with a history of sexual assaults; he was the right person to point as the killer. One day, however, Sharif summoned the media to give a press conference in which he would say the names of the real murderers of the women found dead in Lote Bravo. Under pressure from the press and because of his scarce Spanish, names like and Alejandro and Melchor Máynez came to light. Alejandro had come to fall in love with a dark, thin and humble girl, and he, as he was known through Juárez, was the adopted son of a prominent Juárez businessman who owned gambling houses, bars and leisure spots on the border with El Paso, Texas. After Alejandro murdered the girl, Sharif claimed to have met him in a bar where he had boasted about raped and murdered the girls with the help of his cousin Melchor. The authorities inquired about that information because he knew that Maynez's father had paid them off so his son could enjoy total immunity. It indeed had happened, because Alejandro was never questioned or bothered to give his version of the facts regarding what was said by Sharif. Sharif began to hold constant press conferences, a situation that was deemed inconvenient by the High commanders of the Attorney General's Office in Chiahuahua, so they transferred him to the Chihuahua prison as a highly dangerous prisoner. They denied him the right to see his defense attorney many times with any kind of pretext. Meanwhile, the situation in Juárez worsened, because even with Sharif in jail, bodies of raped and strangled young girls under the same modus operandi continued to appear.
Irene Blancas, defense attorney for Sharif, pointed out that she suffered constant threats inside the prison, that the story about him was absurd, and even the same judge who had sentenced him to 60 years, in a personal conversation with the defender of Sharif, admitted to not having enough evidence to convict him. However, the same judge knew that he would not be released, that Sharif would die in prison in strange circumstances, with the authorities later revealing that he had died of a heart attack.
Between October 1995 and April 1996, while Sharif was already imprisoned, a further 12 feminicides were registered in the city. In 1995, a group of serial killers who acted in a group, The Ciudad Juárez Rebels, were arrested and charged with murdering 17 women.
That same year, another serial killer group, The Ruteros of Ciudad Juárez, were arrested. According to the authorities, all of them were hired by Sharif to commit the murders and thus divert the investigations.
In 1996, Sharif faced 17 charges of aggravated material homicide, 24 counts of intellectual homicide, dozens of charges for kidnapping and rape, and charges of organized crime and illegal human trafficking.
Abdul Latif Sharif died on June 2, 2006, at the age of 59, in the Social Rehabilitation Center of Chihuahua, from a cardiact arrest consistent with a hypovolemic shock generated by a chronic hemorrhage due to peptic ulcer disease. Since 2003, he had been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis subsequent to hepatitis C and alcoholic hepatitis, and a major depressive disorder, at least according to authorities.
He was buried in Mexico, as no relative could be found to repatriate his remains. His funeral was attended by the Egyptian consul in Mexico, Karim El Sadat. He claimed he was innocent until his death.
Ever since Sharif's death to this day the murders continue, with the same modus operandi with which they had started, and women continue to disappear since 1993.
- Carlos Coria Rivas and Carlos Lui C. Cano (2 July 2006). "Egyptian charged of feminicide death in Chihuahua" (in Spanish). The Univesal Chihuahua. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Michael Newton. Ciudad Juárez: The Serial Killer's Playground. TruTV. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Tony Diaz (2012). "Endless doubt after Sharif's death" (in Spanish). periodistasenlinea.org. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Sergio Rodríguez González. Bones in the desert (in Spanish). Mexico. p. 334. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Erick Lopez Tagle Gomez. Governance in crisis: crime, conflict and violence in Latin America (in Spanish) (1 ed.). Books in network. pp. 179–800. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Rodríguez, Teresa; Montané, Diana; Pulitzer, Lisa (2007). "3. The mutilator of Juárez". The Daughters of Juárez (Daughters of Juárez): An authentic story of serial murders south of the border (in Spanish) (1.ª ed.). New York, United States: Simons & Schuster, Inc. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7432-9302-0. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Gregorio Ortega (1999). The deaths of Ciudad Juárez: the case of Elizabeth Castro García and Abdul Latif Sharif (in Spanish). Fontamara Series. p. 143.
- Rivera, Horacio B. (29 September 2009). ""The Predator of Ciudad Juárez" (Mexico)". Encyclopedia of serial killers. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Rubén, Villalpando Moreno. "Someone very powerful, with police protection, after the impunity of feminicides of Ciudad Juárez: experts and activists". La Jornada. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- José Manuel García-García (23 March 2005). "The dead ones of Juárez of Victor Ronquillo: the morbid of the cynical reason" (in Spanish). Al Margen. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Santiago Santorum Gallur (7 October 2010). "Feminicides in Juárez:police fabricate guilt" (in Spanish). Contralínea 204. Archived from the original on 27 January 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Carlos Coria Rivas (3 July 2006). "They buried the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez" (in Spanish). The Universal Chihuahua. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Antonio Mendoza, Killers on the Loose: Unsolved Cases of Serial Murder, (Virgin Books 2002), ISBN 0-7535-0681-5 – Study of unsolved serial killing around the world, including Ciudad Juárez.
- Simon Whitechapel, Crossing to Kill: The True Story of the Serial-Killer Playground, (Virgin Books 2002), ISBN 0-7535-0686-6 – Updated edition of the first detailed study of the Juarez murders.