Lisbon Ripper

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Lisbon Ripper
Span of crimes
1992–1993 (possibly 1988–2000)
CountryPortugal (possibly also the USA, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Belgium)

The Lisbon Ripper (Portuguese: O Estripador de Lisboa) was a serial killer who, between 1992 and 1993 murdered three prostitutes in Lisbon, Portugal.


The first victim was 22-year-old Maria Valentina, nicknamed "Tina", who frequented the area around Avenidas Novas, Avenidas Defensores de Chaves and Avenida Cinco de Outubro. She was found on July 31, 1992 in a large cabin in Póvoa de Santo Adrião, lying in a pool of her own blood. She was strangled, disemboweled, and some of her internal organs were removed.[1][2][3]

The second victim, 24-year-old Maria Fernanda, was found on January 27, 1993 in a large cabin in Entrecampos, by railway construction workers who worked at a nearby railway bridge. She was also disemboweled, and some internal organs were removed.[1][2][3]

The third and last victim was 27-year-old Maria João, a resident of the Santo António dos Cavaleiros ghetto who lived alone with two cats, found on March 15, 1993, near the location of the first victim (of whom she was a friend). Like the previous victims, she was disemboweled, but this time almost all her organs were removed.[1][2][3]

All the victims were young brunettes named Maria, allegedly prostitutes and drug addicts, and were disemboweled with a sharp object that was not a knife, possibly a scalpel.[1][2][3]



The Prevention Service of the Homicide Section received a call about the first murder, with arriving members of Judicial Police (PJ) shocked at how Maria Valentina was killed with refined cruelty. The corpse was then given to expert medical examiner Jose Sombreirero, who claimed to have never seen such a thing after 40,000 autopsies and 30 years of experience. In the subsequent investigation, it was revealed that the victim was either a prostitute or drug addict, known from childhood as "Tina". During the year 1992, numerous telephone calls were made and anonymous letters written, with each being investigated but all lacking solid evidence, until the second murder.

On January 27 of the following year, the Ripper attacked again, this time killing Maria Fernanda, whose body was found by railway workers. An entire police brigade was mobilized, but nobody doubted that the perpetrator was the same: the body had been shredded, with the same organs removed and near the same area. But this time, the killer had cut off her breasts in the cabin at Entrecampos. In the PJ's investigation, it was revealed that, like the first victim, Fernanda was a prostitute.

Judicial Police (PJ)[edit]

The PJ opened the case on January 3, 1993 after the death of Maria Fernanda, investigating both her and Valentina's pasts. Six men worked 24 hours a day on the same case and sometimes even with the support of the drug trafficking department, who handed over employees from its nighttime surveillance brigade.

"There were clues between Lisbon and Cascais about several people relating to their past, but everything was informal, without enough evidence to arrest or even question someone.", lamented coordinator João de Sousa. The PJ knew that the serial killer (or serial killers) murdered again and quickly, but lacked any clues to accuse anybody.

On March 15, what the PJ feared happened again: the Ripper attacked and killed his third victim - Maria João. She had been mutilated in the same way Fernanda and Valentina were, but this time, all of her organs had been removed. Like the other victims, she too had either been a prostitute or drug addict.

After 1993[edit]

There was little or no evidence found at the crime scene: no blood (except from the victims), hair, footprints, fingerprints, or glove material. The police had some suspects, but no evidence against them.[4]

The Ripper's profile[edit]

According to coroner Jose Sombrereiro, through examining his crimes, determined that the Ripper was a solitary man, unrelated to the victims and most likely above suspicion. His crimes could be considered 'perfect', as there are no clues to any potential culprit.

The Ripper probably knocked his victims unconscious with strong blows to the head, something he had most likely practised, then plucked out the heart, liver and lungs, lingering around the bodies but leaving no trace. He kept his victims' faces intact, never clearing the blood. The three crimes were committed at night (probably at dawn, which explains the absence of witnesses).


On November 30, 2011, nineteen years after the murders, one suspect, José Pedro Guedes, aged 46, had his name put forward by his son Joel, aged 21, who had applied to appear on the Secret Story - A Casa dos Segredos 2 reality show. On the show, contestants are kept locked away for 10 weeks in a house, and each contestant has to conceal a secret while everyone else has to try and discover it; the secret Joel applied with was "I am the son of the Lisbon Ripper". This information aroused the Polícia Judiciária's suspicions. Before his arrest, José Guedes confessed details of the murders to the online edition of the Sol newspaper.[5]

Although he could not be tried for the Lisbon Ripper's murders as they had prescribed in 2008, José Guedes was arrested prevently due to his possible connection with Filipa Ferreira's murder in 2000, in Aveiro.[6] Later inquiries come from the comparation between the suspect's version of the facts and the evidence found at the crime scenes, revealed José Guedes was not the Lisbon Ripper. The Polícia Judiciária inclusively compared the palmprint the Ripper left on a carton of milk with Guedes's one, to realize they don't match. In his version of the facts, José Guedes said he didn't own a car and used to hitchhike to Lisbon with friends, returning by bus at thirty-five past midnight. A prostitute reported to the authorities she heard one of the Ripper's victims crying at 1 AM. Guedes was found not proven of the Lisbon murders, but was still kept under arrest for some more inquiries about the murder in Aveiro. In 2013, José Guedes was released due to the lack of evidence.[7]

Other crimes[edit]

There were two other alleged prostitutes found dead in the same region.[1][3][4] Between 1993 and 1997, there were also four similar murders in the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Belgium. This lead the authorities to believe that the Ripper could be a long-haul truck driver, but, as none of the other potential murders were solved, this remains only as speculation.[8]

There was a lead that the Lisbon Ripper may have been a serial killer active in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1988,[8][9] known as the New Bedford Highway Killer. In March 1993, two agents from the FBI arrived in Lisbon after the third murder. They brought photos and reports of similar crimes committed in New Bedford in 1988, where there is a large Portuguese community. The FBI related the Ripper's crimes to the similar deaths in that city, as he could have murdered there as well. According to the FBI's theory, the killer is a member of the Portuguese community in New Bedford, who had left the city and traveled back to Portugal, where he returned to work. A few days later, the PJ arrested a suspect, but he was soon released for lack of evidence. However, the victims in Portugal's bodies were horribly mutilated and those in New Bedford weren't, and since the two agents eventually returned to the USA, no connection could be made, and the identity of the killer remains unknown.


In 2005, the murders of the other two prostitutes in 1990 were prescribed. However, later PJ investigations concluded that there are similarities in the crimes, but only found evidence to connect the three murders from 1992 to 1993.[10]

Even if the murderer if discovered, he can not be tried or imprisoned, because under the Penal Code of Portugal, the statute of limitations ends after 15 years and the sentence is up to 25 years.

In the media[edit]

In 1996, Francisco Moita Flores wrote a script for a series titled Polícias, which portrayed the Judicial Police investigativing deaths caused by a similar murderer.

The first episode of the series, renamed to Cidade Nubida and shown on RTP1 in 2010, reported on the daily life of the PJ brigade, including cases like that of cyclist Pedro Lopes and the modus operandi of the Ripper. The only trait that deviated from reality in this adaptation was that the criminal was captured.


  1. ^ a b c d e (in Portuguese) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-08-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Últimas - Sapo Notícias
  3. ^ a b c d e (in Portuguese) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-08-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b (in Portuguese)
  5. ^ "Alegado "estripador de Lisboa" terá sido revelado devido à "Casa dos Segredos"" (in Portuguese). A Bola. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Alegado "estripador de Lisboa" denunciado por filho que queria entrar na Casa dos Segredos" (in Portuguese). Público. 2 December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Unsolved Serial Killings; Portugal, Libson
  9. ^ Unsolved Serial Killings; Massachusetts, New Bedford
  10. ^ José Bento Amaro (22 July 2010). ""The story of Ze Borrego, the only serial killer"" (in Portuguese). Pú

External links[edit]