Luis Garavito

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Luis Garavito
Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos.jpg
Mugshot taken in April 1999 by the Colombian National Police (Policía Nacional de Colombia)
Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos

(1957-01-25) 25 January 1957 (age 65)
Other namesThe Beast
The Monster of Génova
The Priest
The Madman
Alfredo Salazar
Bonifacio Morera Lizcano
Criminal chargeMurder
Violent sexual act[1]
Penalty1,853 years and 9 days' imprisonment (2001)[2]
835 years' imprisonment (2000)[3][4]
22 years' imprisonment in Ecuador (2007)[5]
Victims193+ (142 convicted)[4][3][5]
Span of crimes
State(s)Valle del Cauca, Boyacá, Meta Department, Quindío, Risaralda, Cundinamarca, Nariño, Huila, Caquetá, Antioquia and Caldas,[citation needed] Chone (Ecuador)[6]
Date apprehended
22 April 1999
Imprisoned atEPAMS Valledupar – La Tramacúa

Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos (born 25 January 1957), also known as La Bestia ("The Beast") or Tribilin ("Goofy") is a Colombian serial killer, pederast, rapist, child molester, and necrophile.[7] In October 1999, he confessed to committing the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of 147 minors,[8][9] predominately young men and boys in the western Colombian region.

Beginning a series of torture-rapes on minors aged 6 to 16 in the autumn of 1980, Garavito was estimated to have raped and tortured a minimum of 200 minors, before committing the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of an additional 189 minors in Colombia from 4 October 1992 to 21 April 1999,[10][4][3] and a further 4 murders in Ecuador during the summer of 1998.[5][11][6]

Apprehended on 22 April 1999 for the attempted rape of 12-year-old John Iván Sabogal, Garavito was held under suspicion for several months until confession on 28 October 1999.[10] The judicial body ruled that all Garavito's sentences total 1,853 years and 9 days in jail.[12] Between his Colombian and Ecuadorian victims, Garavito is confirmed to have murdered at least 193 minors in total, making him the most prolific serial killer in modern history. If his 2003 confession is to be believed, his murders of 23 minors and 5 adults would raise his murder victim count to 221.[13]



Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos was born in Génova, Quindío, on 25 January 1957 to Manuel Antonio Garavito and Rosa Delia Cubillos. The eldest son of seven siblings, he had three brothers and three sisters. Garavito alleged his father to be adulterous, drunken, macho, very strict, and often physically and emotionally abusive to him throughout his childhood, and further described his mother as a violent woman[14] who showed him little affection and care as a child. Due to the ongoing armed conflict in Colombia at the time, the family relocated to Ceilán, Valle del Cauca before Garavito entered primary school.[15]

As a result of his father's drinking and extramarital affairs and his mother's aggressive temperament, they frequently fought verbally and physically in the presence of their children, whom they largely neglected.[15][16] When Garavito was a child, he recalled being strapped to a tree and beaten with a machete case by his father after attempting to defend his mother, whom Manuel was known to beat in pregnancy.[15] Because of the spontaneous nature of the physical abuse, his children often hid upon his return home from work.[17] Sleeping in the same bed as his father, Garavito also alleged he had been fondled on one occasion.[15]

As a child, Garavito was referred to as an imbecile, a bastard, and other pejoratives by his father, whom he claimed "never had a good word" for him, solely bringing his son with him for work-related purposes and to run errands. Attending Simón Bolívar School in Ceilán, he was reportedly enthusiastic but gradually became shy and reserved, primarily due to frequent ridicule by other children. His teachers noted Garavito's desire to learn conflicted with his extreme frustration with an inability to understand subjects. Nicknamed "Garabato" (meaning "Squiggle") for his glasses and timid nature by peers, Garavito was insecure of his glasses and eventually preferred playing alone at recess, often reacting violently in response to frequent taunting by classmates.[15] His teachers made no attempts to stop the bullying, which distressed Garavito.[16]

Around 1968, he left school in fifth grade due to poor memory and his father's insistence on making money to sustain the family. This dismayed Garavito, who was also forbidden to have friends or a girlfriend by his father. Shortly thereafter in 1969, Garavito was subject to extensive physical and sexual abuse by a local drug-store owner and neighbor on his father's visits to the store for Garavito's vaccinations. The neighbor—who was a close friend of his father's—had allegedly bound Garavito to a bed, before proceeding to burn him with a candle, cut him with a razor blade, and bite his genitals and buttocks on several occasions during these incidents of molestation.[18]


Following the first incident, Garavito allegedly killed and dissected two birds in a state of extreme emotional frustration, which prompted him to feel remorse and shame shortly thereafter. After stoning the birds, Garavito began suggesting to his younger brothers and sisters that they sleep with him naked in their shared bed. He then sexually fondled his younger siblings as they slept on multiple occasions after removing their clothes.[15][16][n 1] Garavito also alleged he molested a 6-year-old boy.[14] According to those who knew him, Garavito became very withdrawn, extremely aggressive, and "ready to take revenge on the world."[19]

The neighbor's sexual abuse—which rendered him sexually impotent and permanently unable to ejaculate properly—ended after the family's relocation to Trujillo in 1971.[20][19] Fearing that his father would not believe him and believing his family would not feel concern, Garavito chose to keep his sexual abuse experiences to himself.[15] Soon after arriving in Trujillo, he was shown heterosexual pornography by another neighboring family friend. Because Garavito responded with disgust, the neighbor beat him into the undergrowth before raping him.[21][n 2] In 1972, Garavito aggressively and repeatedly attempted to initiate sexual relations with women as a 15-year-old youth, but his advances toward them were consistently rejected.[22]

Through various alcoholic family members, Garavito accessed alcoholic drink and developed an addiction.[23][14][n 3] Due to his rebelliousness and sexual inclinations, Garavito would be kicked out on a repeated basis throughout his teens; once by his mother Rosa in 1972 for attempting to rape a 5-year-old boy and again in 1973 following an attempted sexual assault on a 6-year-old boy at a train station in Bogotá. The boy screamed, which alerted authorities to arrest Garavito, who stated he only wanted to "lightly" molest the child in response to an attempted rape charge. Following the latter incident, Garavito would be reprimanded by his father Manuel for not choosing a woman to sexually assault instead of a young boy. With Garavito's homosexuality causing frequent arguments between him and his father Manuel, he was evicted for the final time for "homosexual behavior".[16][15][n 4]

As a young man, Garavito started working as an assistant at a compensation fund and later in a chain of stores, and studying in marketing. Despite his new-found career, he began to have problems with his co-workers, clients and bosses which would gradually escalate to physical altercations.[25] After losing his job, Garavito worked as a street vendor who sold religious icons and a migrant worker, developing primarily platonic relationships with various women over the course of his adulthood.[26] In 1973, he began work on a coffee plantation as a youth in Trujillo, first falling in love with a schoolteacher and single mother named Luz Mary Ocampo Orozco whom he later attended weekly mass services with.[27][15]

Many of the women he befriended had children, whom Garavito reportedly nurtured as if they were his own children, in addition to being a loving boyfriend when sober.[27] His companions likewise described him to be amicable despite his notably violent temper and occasional drunken states in which he vowed to murder his father. While drunk, Garavito—an increasingly jealous and controlling partner in relationships[15]—was also prone to physically abusing his girlfriends over insignificant problems, if there were any at all. As a result, he often found himself the subject of town gossip and frequent evictions by his female partners in later life.[28]



Garavito began suffering symptoms of psychosis, paranoia and depression which he attributed to various abuses he claimed enduring in his childhood and adolescence. He then began compulsively molesting both male and female children as his condition gradually worsened, developing an almost exclusive preference for pubescent boys. Due to depression and suicidal feelings related to his lack of achievement, he expressed desire to start a family.[15] Insisting on having sexual intercourse with female partners when drunk however, he consistently failed to maintain an erection, prompting an unprovoked emotional rant concerning his hatred for his family.[16]

Garavito gradually fell into alcoholism to cope with his traumatic childhood, and began participating in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in 1978.[15] Garavito also converted to the Pentecostal faith and began working as a store clerk, where he had coincidentally reconnected briefly with his first girlfriend Luz Mary.[27] Drifting from his family, he was only close to his older sister, Esther, who avoided him due to his alcoholism.[29] Relocating to the town of Armenia, Garavito acquired a day job at a local bakery. Following his frequent attendance of local church services in which he would remorsefully beat his chest during prayer, Garavito attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and occasionally visited psychiatrists before ending his day by frequenting Valencia Park, which was later known as a popular location for child prostitution.[15]


After allegedly provoking a fight with his co-workers, Garavito's employment at the bakery was terminated; he subsequently attempted suicide. Following this failed attempt, Garavito sought psychiatric care at the San Juan de Dios hospital and was repeatedly hospitalized throughout the spring of 1980, where he expressed a desire to die over a belief that his life "was worth nothing."[15] He was primarily treated for his diagnosed depression in spite of evident psychosis and bulimia; he was, however, prescribed antipsychotic medication.[23][16] Intent on being truthful with the psychiatrist, Garavito stated he wanted to have children, before misdirecting this statement into implying he wanted to start a family. Fearful of consequences, Garavito chose not to inform the psychiatrist of his pedophilia or his sexual impotence with female partners. [15]

Garavito later obtained employment in 1980 at a supermarket in Armenia, being given 2-hour lunch breaks on Thursday and Sunday noons; he then began a relationship with a single mother and beautician named Claudia, whom he described as being the first woman whose company he enjoyed. This relationship would be short-lived however, as Garavito apparently could not sustain Claudia's spending habits.[15] Satiating his sexual desires by binding and raping children during his lunch breaks in neighboring Quimbaya and Calarcá, Garavito did not engage in intercourse with Claudia.[16] During this period, Garavito emphasized constant urges to molest children he encountered at work. In the autumn of 1980, he began carrying razor blades, candles, and lighters to facilitate the torture of his victims. In addition, Garavito removed a tooth to be able to bite children more effectively.[15]

Following his crimes, he wrote the name of the molested child in a blue notebook and prayed for them while pacing his room, fervently beating his chest while naked in a ritual-like fashion. Garavito also began compulsively reading the Bible each night, attempting to find an explanation[20]—particularly in the Book of Psalms—for his deviance. Despite this, Garavito developed an interest in esoteric study, tarot readings and Satanism.[17] He would visit palm readers and other occultic practitioners before deciding that they were just as clueless as he was regarding the occult.[15] Afflicted with bouts of depression and guilt from his crimes, Garavito suffered nightmares about these youths, waking up in tears before entering fits of hysterical laughter as he remembered the pleasure received from their pain.[15]

Discovering Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, Garavito became fond of Hitler upon discovering similarities in their early lives, homosexual experiences,[17] and years spent in vagrancy.[17] This fondness developed into idolization, expressing admiration for Hitler, mass graves of the Holocaust, and stating that he "liked the concentration camps". On 25 January 1984, Garavito was housed under psychiatric care for 33 days following a mental breakdown; he was prescribed antipsychotic medication and referred to psychotherapy for his depression. After obtaining a permit to leave on 28 February 1984, Garavito fled to Pereira where he immediately molested, burned, and bit two children in the sector of Getsemani before leaving their photographs with his older sister. When the children publicly identified him, Garavito fled the city. He then resumed storing scalpels, candles, and razor blades in plastic bags for future victims. Having molested and tortured more than a hundred children by this period, Garavito was briefly detained for stealing jewelry from a friend.[15]

In addition to his fascination with Hitler, Garavito developed an obsession with Colombian spree killer Campo Elías Delgado in December 1986,[15] immediately admiring his mass murder at a Bogotá restaurant, the attention it received, and wanting to emulate him as he and others noted it on television at a bar.[30] From this point on, Garavito harboured extensive fantasies of acquiring a machine gun and—starting with his father—annihilating his family before committing suicide.[22] Admiring mass murders akin to that of Delgado's, Garavito felt that committing suicide following a mass murder would be an ideal way to die for him.[10]

During this period, Garavito found another girlfriend named Graciela Zabaleta, a single mother who resided near the local psychiatric centres in which he was committed. After introducing himself, Garavito casually suggested that she be his permanent companion. Charmed by his confidence, Zabaleta let Garavito live with her in exchange for providing meals and paying bills in their household. As such, Garavito regularly spent his spare savings on his "family" in Pereira.[15][31] Staying for three or four days on average, Garavito was generally absent, but took care to warn Zabaleta's teenage son to not go into the street and to take care of himself, displaying love and affection he felt he never had in early life toward the family. Despite this, Zabaleta was wary of Garavito's alcoholism, which often spurred scandalous and antisocial behaviour.[31] Like Luz Mary, Garavito also would later claim to have loved Zabaleta.[10]

After being seen drunk in the company of various pubescent youths of "humble" appearance by his friends Jairo Toro and Ancizar Valencia, Garavito's companions became aware of their friend's pederasty. Despite this, Garavito was not confronted, and most of his acquaintances did not suspect any sexual deviation. In addition, his various girlfriends were also oblivious to Garavito's predilections. Starting in 1988, Garavito began documenting his crimes, keeping them in black cloth suitcases at several females' residences.[7]


Between 1980 and 1992, Garavito was estimated to have raped and tortured a minimum of 200 youths,[10] a period during which he had actively spent five years under psychiatric care,[32] having attempted suicide several times.[23] Wherever Garavito had resided during this time, reports of child molestation in said areas increased dramatically.[15]

While operating an ouija board, Garavito alleged that he entered a state of psychosis in which the devil had asked whether he would like to serve him. Answering that he would, the devil responded, saying, "Kill, that with killing many things may come."[17][15] Attempting to commit his first murder on 1 October 1992 Garavito sought a young boy who had been selling sweets and cigars to passersby. In a "state of drunkenness," he lured the youth—who he planned on bringing to a wooded lot—to the Melia hotel sector in Bolivar, Colombia before being interrupted and beaten by local police, one of whom hit him over the head with a revolver. As Garavito bled, they then stole 100,000 pesos, a watch, and a ring from him before letting him go from a police station.[33] Garavito then resolved to commit murder three days later.

Committing his first murder of a boy named Juan Carlos on 4 October 1992,[30] Garavito began wearing various disguises in order to evade identification and arrest. Known locally as "Goofy," a generous man who gave to children in Trujillo, locals went out of their way to keep documents for Garavito.[7] For years, Garavito documented his crimes by tickets, receipts, clothes, and identity cards of victims in a black cloth suitcase; Garavito left the suitcase with his sister Esther before giving it to Luz Mary.[34] He also collected their amputated toes, before disposing of them for fear that the Colombian National Police's scent dog team may trace them to him.[15] In June 1996, Garavito complained to Luz Mary of losing his temporary job as a salesman for air fresheners, begging for a place to stay in exchange for food and financial relief. Wary of Garavito for his alcoholism and temper, she took him in briefly with hesitance; Garavito then suffered a hard fall in the Guacamayas neighborhood of Bogotá, breaking his leg in August 1996. Stricken with pain, he resided temporarily with a man before begging his girlfriend Luz Mary to let him stay at her residence again;[6] restricted by having to use crutches, wear a neck brace, and a cast, Garavito resorted to begging on the street for the two months he resided with her.[27]

Garavito provided for the household by paying for meals and other means, such as bringing a television. He remained hostile, however and entered a fight with his girlfriend's 15-year-old son for wanting to watch the local news. Luz Mary subsequently evicted Garavito, who derided her son as disrespectful and rude, and had also damaged a gold chain she had gifted to him. Later that year on Christmas Day, Luz Mary received a gift from a visiting friend, which prompted an angry, drunken phone call from Garavito who stated that he "didn't like those faggots" visiting as he feared they would steal her generosity from Garavito. After being informed he was no longer welcome, Garavito appeared the next morning shouting obscenities and threats while grabbing at Luz Mary's throat, prompting her and the family to hide at a neighbor's house. After several hours, Garavito left an apology note asking for her forgiveness, and noting his "damage" to their household.[27] Nicknamed "Conflict" by locals,[23] Garavito was frequently seen drunk and drifting from town to town as he outwore his welcome, often due to his domestic disputes with co-workers, abuse of his girlfriends, and general inability to behave normally. His erratic behavior reportedly left him unable to develop meaningful relationships, despite living with two different women in Pereira at the time of his arrest.[25]

Toward the end of Garavito's crime spree, he drifted through western Colombia as a homeless drifter. Weary of murdering minors who he felt were much too easy to lure, Garavito developed plans to eventually commit a mass murder in which he would kidnap several adults and murder them as he attracted the attention of journalists, possibly dying in the frenzy.[10] Nevertheless, Garavito was detained for the attempted sexual assault of 12-year-old John Iván Sabogal before being able to perform this mass murder on 22 April 1999.


A prolific pederast and torturer of youths,[10] Garavito began to feel apathy with his crimes. On 4 October 1992, he had spotted 13-year-old boy Juan Carlos walking near a bazaar he had been drinking at. According to Garavito, the reflection of the moonlight had invoked a "strange force" within him, reminding him of his childhood which compelled him to murder upon entering a state of rage.[17] He began to follow the child, buying synthetic rope and a butcher knife on the way, before offering him work for 500 or 1,000 pesos. The boy left the crowded area in Jamundí with Garavito to go to a remote area near the local railroad, where he was later found with his front teeth knocked out, severe cuts to his rectum and throat and his genitals severed. Waking upon sunrise, Garavito began sobbing as he noted the blood stains of Carlos on his clothes.[6][n 5]

On 10 October 1992, Garavito would make the trip to Trujillo to see his sister Esther. Attempting to control his urges by drinking brandy, he began breaking containers in a state of rage after seeing a child pass by. Garavito then murdered 12-year-old Jhon Alexander Peñaranda on the way to his sister's residence while in Tuluá. He then began to compulsively murder youth, predominately male and poverty-stricken, and collected their amputated toes. In 1993, Garavito also began cutting into his victims' bellies, luring eight youths aged 9 to 11 from a local school to a nearby wooded lot in the La Victoria district. For fear of being traced by bloodhounds, Garavito then discarded their amputated toes before murdering Henry Giovanni García, Marco Aurelio Castaño, Juan David Cárdenas, Jaime Orlando Popayán, and three more unidentified children in southeast Bogotá. He then murdered two additional children in the Meissen neighborhood, before departing for Tuluá, to Pereira, to Quimbaya, then to Tuluá again where he murdered more children, ending his spree in 1993 with the death of 13-year-old Mauricio Monedero Mejía.[15]

In early 1994, Garavito would lure a Bogotá youth—estimated to be about 12 years old—who had fallen asleep on the bus. After providing him with brandy, Garavito proceeded to strip and bind the boy at a secluded ravine spot in a dazed state before noticing a foul odour; he then let the child go after discovering the source of the odour was a mass grave. Immediately, the child seized the knife, severing Garavito's tendons in his left hand with the weapon before being overpowered and murdered by him. On 4 February 1994, Garavito would lure 13-year-old Jaime Andrés González from the Plaza de Bolívar to a sugarcane field shortly after being expelled from a bar that night for complaining of their food; noting a crucifix in the area, he entered a brief psychosis in which he buried his knife, prayed for forgiveness, retrieved the knife and returned to his hotel room to chant scripture from the fifty-seventh psalm for several hours until dawn. On 12 January 1997, Garavito murdered an 8-year-old boy, before murdering an additional two minors during this period.[15]

The victims were almost exclusively boys, though Garavito has also been noted by local media to have molested and murdered female victims.[35][18] In addition to his 172 initial charges of murder, Garavito also confessed to 28 more murders in 2003, of which 5 were adult. All adult victims were thought to have been killed to rid Garavito of potential witnesses rather than to fulfill personal fantasy.[13]

Murders abroad[edit]

Garavito was also said to have operated in Ecuador during the summer of 1998, when he murdered 14-year-old Abel Gustavo Loor Vélez, a local shoe-shiner and paper boy on 20 July 1998 and 12-year-old Jimmy Leonardo Palacios Anchundia in Chone, Ecuador. Both boys were from poor families, and disappeared at noon. Garavito was subsequently spotted at an all-girls' school in Santo Domingo, Ecuador before fleeing Ecuadorian authorities who had been setting up an operation to catch him.[6] There they found two corpses, one of whom was a young girl who had been raped, tortured, murdered, and discarded in similar fashion to that of Garavito's modus operandi.[11] Marked for his thick Colombian accent, locals spotted a foreign drifter begging for money in July and August of that year. In addition, Garavito also stated that he had allegedly committed murder in Venezuela.[6]

Surviving victims[edit]

William Trujillo[edit]

In 1979, Garavito, wielding a machete, seized victim 9-year-old William Trujillo Mora (who was interviewed and featured on the Colombian television program Los Informantes) in the Valle del Cauca region as he was about to join other playing children, hugging him and threatening to kill him if he screamed. Mora obliged, and he was escorted by Garavito to an abandoned building where he was sexually molested and tortured for 12 hours. When Garavito sensed that someone was near the house, he urged the child to remain silent.[36] When Garavito lost consciousness from drinking, Mora managed to escape.

Unidentified youth[edit]

In 1988, Garavito lured an unidentified victim who he had sexually assaulted near a restaurant called El Arepazo in the Alto del Río sector, in Quindío's Calarcá, a location where several bodies were later found within a 20-metre proximity of one another. Following an earthquake on 25 January 1999 authorities found the owner of the restaurant—which was reduced to rubble—who pointed them to Garavito, whom he had known for many years and avoided due to his drinking problem and aggressive tendencies.[7]

Carlos Alberto[edit]

In the early 1990s, Garavito would approach 10-year-old Carlos Alberto in the Circasia sector of Quindío. Offering him gifts and 200 pesos in exchange for work, Garavito led Carlos to the Alto de la Taza where he amicably spoke with the child. Upon reaching a secluded hill spot, Garavito placed a knife at Carlos' throat before proceeding to bind, rape, and torture him. After doing so, Garavito asked Carlos whether he enjoyed it. Humiliated and fearful of Garavito, Carlos stated that he liked it, prompting Garavito to leave after stating, "See you next week. That's how I like it, that you [also] like it."[7]

Brand Ferney Bernal Álvarez[edit]

Brand Ferney Bernal Álvarez was a 16-year-old youth who worked with his father in the rooster fighting business in the 1990s. While Bernal Álvarez tended to roosters in the cockpit, Garavito took him to a secluded spot by threatening him with a knife. He then proceeded to bind, sexually assault and torture Bernal Álvarez, with methods ranging from stabbing Bernal Álvarez seven times with a screwdriver as he raped him, to beating the youth until weak. Bernal Álvarez broke free from his restraints and fled from Garavito.[37][10]

Modus operandi[edit]

According to Garavito, he primarily targeted children of humble background who had light coloured eyes and were working class, homeless, peasants or orphaned. Claiming to feel a force within that compelled him to kill, Garavito would look for children and lure them away by bribing them with small gifts such as money, candy or odd jobs.[38] Terrified of the dark, he would approach them in broad daylight in public places ranging from the countryside to crowded city streets. He would also wait and drink brandy near school zones on evenings to wait for unknowing children.[6]

He had a preference for male youth with light-coloured eyes and fair complexion. Having been raised in the heavily Spanish-descended Paisa region of Colombia, Garavito knew where to find boys that fit his criteria.[29] He offered easy work for money and even disguised himself as different characters who could be seen as legitimately having reason to interact with children, such as a priest, monk, farmer, homeless man, street vendor, fortune teller, baker, drug dealer, schoolteacher, charity organization worker, bar and restaurant manager, elderly man and a gambler.[10] He often posed as a monk or priest (one of his many nicknames in Colombian media was "El Cura") and lured children with promises of money or drinks.[39] To prevent suspicions about his activities from developing, Garavito would change his disguise often.

Once he had the trust of a child, Garavito would walk to a secluded spot or mass grave site with the victim, encouraging them to talk about their personal life until they were tired and vulnerable, which then made them easy to handle. After sipping about half a bottle of brandy, Garavito would proceed to bind the child, intimidating them with a knife as he fondled and sometimes masturbated over them.[7] According to Garavito, he made a "pact with the devil" and Satanic rituals were also incorporated into the murders of the children, who were apparent blood sacrifices.[15]

Usually, the child would endure prolonged rape and torture by having the hands, feet and buttocks stabbed with a screwdriver. Garavito was also known to place broken blades in between his fingers, and flay the skin of the child's buttocks.[7] Teeth were often knocked out and sharpened objects inserted into the anus. The penis and testicles were also often severed and placed into the child's mouth while alive. They were burned with a lighter, stomped on and often showed deep cuts in the back, belly and throat. In some cases, they were sexually abused as their intestines poured out of their belly,[15] impaled through the anus and out of the mouth,[29] and stabbed over one hundred times.[14]

Garavito's climax would occur when he had decapitated the child alive or cut the throat as he finished before leaving the severed genitals in the mouth of the decapitated head.[15][40] Necrophilia with the victim's corpse was also occasionally involved in the crimes; sometimes prematurely, as Garavito could only achieve orgasm by beating and stabbing his victims during intercourse.[10] The bodies of the children were all found completely naked, and all bore bite marks and signs of anal penetration. Containers of lubricant were found near the bodies, along with empty bottles of the cheapest brandy in Colombia. Most corpses showed signs of prolonged torture.[41]


Beginning in October 1992, minors between the ages of 6 through 16 began disappearing rapidly from the streets of Colombia. Due to the decades-long civil war, many children in Colombia were impoverished and unlikely to be reported missing. Several women began reporting their children missing, and a group of children discovered a skeleton in Pereira while playing football on 7 November 1998, yet authorities did not take much notice until 15 November, when mass graves of as many as 36 children were uncovered—almost all of them boys—with signs of binding, sexual assault, and prolonged torture.[23][38] They discovered a total of 41 children in the department of Risaralda, with 27 children discovered in neighboring Valle del Cauca.[42]

This large number of missing children called for a widespread investigation as these killings were not confined to a specific area. The brutality was so fierce to authorities that they initially hypothesized the killings were performed by a Satanic cult or an international child-trafficking ring. In spite of this, the Prosecutor's Office quickly speculated that it was likely one man to be responsible for the killings, due to the prevalence of nylon cord and liquor bottle caps found at all of the crime scenes.[23] On 6 February 1999, outside the town of Palmira, the bodies of two naked children were found lying next to each other on a hill near a sugarcane field. The next day, only meters away, they discovered another child's body. All three bodies had their hands bound and bore signs of sexual abuse. The victims' necks were severely cut and bruises were on their backs, genitals, legs and buttocks. The murder weapon was found in the same area as the bodies. Garavito had passed out partially naked on top of a child's corpse while drunk with a cigarette in his left hand,[43][25] causing the cane field to catch fire. He burned himself severely in the process and left behind his money, burnt glasses, shorts, shoes, and underwear. Receipts and a note containing Graciela Zabaleta's address was also found.[24]

From his glasses, the authorities were able to determine that the local serial killer was middle-aged and had an astigmatism in his left eye. His shoes also showed that he walked with a limp and stood 163–167 cm (5 ft 4 in – 5 ft 6 in) tall. They falsely arrested a local sex offender named Pedro Pablo Ramirez Garcia, who was 44 and had a limp in his right foot. As two boys disappeared in Pereira, a young boy had outed Garcia as the man who attempted to assault him. He was kept in jail until more children began to disappear in Bogotá. Meanwhile, Aldemar Duran, the main detective, had begun to suspect Garavito as their wanted killer. Garavito's girlfriend was contacted; she told police that she had not seen him in months. She did, however, give to the police a black cloth suitcase that Garavito had left in her possession, which contained a number of his belongings. These items included pictures of young boys, detailed journals of his murders, tally marks of his victims and bills. This new information led them to Garavito's residence, but the property was vacant. Detectives believed that Garavito was either travelling for work or away attempting to find his next victim. Garcia was released after Duran was able to track down the girlfriend and sister of Garavito.[21]


Garavito was picked up by the local police just a few days later on an unrelated charge of attempted rape against 12-year-old John Iván Sabogal. On 22 April 1999, Garavito was drinking brandy in the evening when he encountered Sabogal selling lottery tickets in the city of Villavicencio. Introducing himself as Bonifacio Morera Lizcano, a local politician,[44] Garavito proceeded to seize Sabogal with a knife before threatening the child into silence. Pretending to hug Sabogal, Garavito escorted him into a taxi before forcing him to climb a barbed wire fence that led to a secluded hillside. At this location, Garavito proceeded to bind Sabogal while repeatedly screaming, "Am I a sadist?"[22] He then taunted the child with the blade, shouting various obscenities as he masturbated over him.[45]

A homeless 16-year-old had been close enough to hear the struggle between Garavito and the child. The teen began to curse and throw stones at Garavito. Garavito chased the teenager with his dagger. Both the boy and the teen fled to the Rosa Blanca farmhouse located on La Coralina Road in Villavicencio,[46][9] where they were met by a 12-year-old girl. Garavito later reached the farmhouse, aggressively asking the girl for directions. She directed Garavito into the woods, where he became lost. The police were contacted, resulting in a search. Authorities found Garavito walking out of the woods at approximately 7:00 p.m. as they urged angry locals not to get involved in the search. He gave them a false ID and claimed to be the politician Lizcano. Despite this, they suspected the man to be Garavito anyway.[46] On 4 July 1999, their suspicion was confirmed.[44]

For Colombia's Justice Department, Garavito's confession was not enough. Garavito had an eye condition that was rare and only found in men in a particular age group. His glasses were specifically designed for his unique condition. These particular glasses were found at a crime scene. Garavito also left behind bottles of brandy, his underwear and his shoes. DNA was found on the victims, along with the other items left behind. Police scheduled the entire jail where Garavito was being detained to get an eye exam, the outcome of which would help police pair the glasses to Garavito. By making it mandatory for all the prisoners, it reduced Garavito's suspicion and kept him from lying about his eyesight.[24] His height of 165 cm (5 ft 5 in) and limp were also crucial in connecting him to the investigators' findings.

While Garavito was out of his cell, detectives took DNA samples from his pillow and living area. The DNA found on the victims was a match to the DNA found in Garavito's cell. Garavito confessed to murdering about 140 children and was charged with killing 172 altogether throughout Colombia.[47] He was found guilty on 138 of the 172 accounts; the others are ongoing. Garavito was sentenced to 1,853 years and 9 days in prison, the lengthiest sentence in Colombian history.[48] However, Colombian law limits imprisonment to 40 years, and, because Garavito helped police find the victims' bodies, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years.[49]

Garavito is currently serving his sentence in a maximum-security prison in Valledupar in the department of El Cesar in Colombia.[50] He is held separately from all other prisoners because it is feared that he would be killed immediately. He will become eligible for parole in 2023[51] when he has served three fifths of his sentence.[51]

Garavito remains hopeful, having expressed to Colombian senator Carlos Moreno de Caro apparent plans to enter Colombian congress, enter the ministry as a Pentecostal pastor, and marry a woman (in rejection of his self-admitted homosexuality) in the hopes that he will be able to help abused children upon his release.[52] Garavito suffers from severe eye cancer which leaves him weak and fatigued, requiring daily blood transfusions. He spends most of his time making handcuffs, earrings and necklaces in the medical unit of Valledupar's prison.[18]

Public response[edit]

Many Colombians criticized the possibility of Garavito's early release. In recent years, Colombians have increasingly felt that Garavito's sentence was not sufficient punishment for his crimes. Some have argued he deserves either life in prison or the death penalty, neither of which exist in Colombia. Colombian law had no provision or method to impose a sentence longer than what Garavito received, which was seen as a deficiency in the law caused by the failure to address the possibility of a serial killer in Colombian society. The law has since increased the maximum penalty for such crimes to 60 years in prison.[53]

Journalist Guillermo Prieto "Pirry" La Rotta interviewed Garavito for a show which was broadcast on 11 June 2006. Pirry mentioned that, during the interview, Garavito tried to minimize his actions and expressed intent to start a political career in order to help abused children. Pirry also described Garavito's conditions in prison and commented that due to good behavior, he could probably apply for early release within three years.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garavito would later insist that his fondling of his siblings was so insignificant that they possibly did not remember it as adults.[15]
  2. ^ Blaming it on the sexual abuse he endured as a youth, Garavito would recall feeling shame at not being able to feel aroused enough by the experience.[16]
  3. ^ Several of Garavito's family members were alcoholics, with a maternal grandfather dying of cirrhosis in his youth.
  4. ^ Garavito later described the first incident as to when he recognized his extreme attraction to male children which was elevated by sadism.[16] Throughout his early life, Garavito was described as consistently without friends and never rooted in any particularly stable environment, which was later noted by various experts to be highly contributive to his later development of antisocial personality disorder.[24]
  5. ^ Garavito would also allege feelings of guilt as he saw the murder of Carlos mentioned in the local newspapers on 7 October 1998.[6]


  1. ^ Ortega, Maria (24 May 2018). "Garavito o 'La Bestia': el violador y asesino de casi 200 niños en Colombia que tendría la posibilidad de salir de prisión" [Garavito or 'The Beast': the rapist and murderer of almost 200 children in Colombia who would have the possibility of leaving prison] (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Condenan a 1853 años de cárcel al mayor asesino en serie de Colombia". Caracol Radio (in Spanish). 3 November 2001. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c El País Staff (26 May 2000). "Condenado a 8.350 años de prisión el asesino de 189 niños en Colombia" [Murderer of 189 Children in Colombia Sentenced to 835 Years in Prison]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Clarín Staff (27 May 2000). "Un asesino condenado a 835 años de cárcel" [Murderer Sentenced to 835 Years in Prison]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Violador Luis Alfredo Garavito fue condenado a 22 años de cárcel en Ecuador" [Rapist Luis Alfredo Garavito Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison in Ecuador]. (in Spanish). 27 July 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "La Confesion" [The Confession]. (in Spanish). 12 December 1999. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Avila, Christian (2 November 2021). "Alfredo Garavito asesinó a mi hijo; así descubrí su doloroso crimen" [Alfredo Garavito Murdered My Son; How I Discovered His Painful Crime]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  8. ^ Morris, Ruth; Darling, Juanita (30 October 1999). "Colombian Held in Deaths of 140 Children". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  9. ^ a b Guardian Staff (31 October 1999). "Confession of 'worst murderer in history'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Aranguren, Mauricio (22 June 2020). "Viaje a la mente asesina de "la bestia", mi encuentro con Luis Alfredo Garavito" (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  11. ^ a b "Garavito tiene condena en Ecuador" (in Spanish). 27 May 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Condenan a 1853 años de cárcel al mayor asesino en serie de Colombia". Caracol Radio (in Spanish). 3 November 2001. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Asesino en serie colombiano admite haber matado a otras 28 personas" [Colombian serial killer admits to killing 28 other people]. (in Spanish). 13 August 2003. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  14. ^ a b c d El Tiempo Staff (2 October 2004). "Las Atrocidades de Luis Alfredo Garavito" [The Atrocities of Luis Alfredo Garavito]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Baron Chilito, Irene; Cortes Caballero, Jhon; Porras, Helder Guiovanni; Velasco Franco, Elisa Maria. "Estructura de la Personalidad de Luis Alfredo Garavito" [Personality Structure of Luis Alfredo Garavito]. Psicologia Juridica y Forense [Legal and Forensic Psychology] (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 May 2022 – via
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i "La infancia, infamia y perfil criminal de Luis Alfredo Garavito, la 'bestia' colombiana que se convirtió en el mayor asesino de niños de la historia" [The childhood, infamy and criminal profile of Luis Alfredo Garavito, the Colombian 'Beast' who became the greatest child murderer in history]. (in Spanish). 2 November 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Pirry entrevista a Luis Alfredo Garavito" [Pirry interviews Luis Alfredo Garavito]. (in Spanish). 7 June 2006. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011.
  18. ^ a b c "El prontuario de Garavito, 'La Bestia' que partió la historia de Colombia en dos con su sevicia". 12 March 2020.
  19. ^ a b Semana Staff (28 November 1999). "LA BESTIA" (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b "Luis Garavito". (in Spanish). 3 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  21. ^ a b "The Beast — Luis Garavito". 31 May 2021.
  22. ^ a b c "Retrato de un asesino en serie" (in Spanish). Semana. 5 May 2002. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "El asesino de 140 niños en Colombia confiesa que actuó por venganza" [Murderer of 140 Children in Colombia Confesses That He Acted for Revenge]. El Pais (in Spanish). 30 October 1999. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  24. ^ a b c "Serial Killer Documentary Luis Alfredo Garavito". YouTube. Discovery Channel. 1 September 2016. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  25. ^ a b c "SÍ, YO LOS MATÉ, PIDO PERDÓN". 31 October 1999.
  26. ^ Benecke, M.; Rodriguez, M.; Zabeck, A.; Mätzler, A. (2005). "Two homosexual pedophile sadistic serial killers: Jürgen Bartsch (Germany, 1946 - 1976) and Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubullos (Colombia, 1957)" (PDF). Minerva Medicolegale. 125 (3). Retrieved 2 May 2022 – via
  27. ^ a b c d e "EN MI CASA TUVE AL PEOR CRIMINAL" (in Spanish). 7 November 1999.
  28. ^ Cañas 2012, pp. 169–170
  29. ^ a b c "3 of the World's Deadliest Serial Killers Come from the Same Place: Why?".
  30. ^ a b Cañas 2012, p. 140
  31. ^ a b Cañas 2012, p. 170
  32. ^ Rohter, Larry (1 November 1999). "Behind a Grisly Confession, the Torn Lives of Colombian Children". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  33. ^ Cañas 2012, p. 141
  34. ^ Cañas 2012, p. 188
  35. ^ "Garavito y los crímenes imperdonables: ¿un espejo en que no queremos mirarnos?". 12 November 2018.
  36. ^ Gonzalez, Miguel (20 January 2020). "Sobreviviente de Luis Alfredo Garavito relató esa horripilante experiencia". (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  37. ^ Cañas 2012, p. 44
  38. ^ a b "World: Americas: Colombian child killer confesses". BBC News. BBC Online Network. 30 October 1999. Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  39. ^ "Luis Garavito Kolumbianischer Serienmörder". 29 June 2022.
  41. ^ Benecke, pp. 161–162
  42. ^ "Colombian Admits to Killing 140 Children over 5 Years". The New York Times. 30 October 1999.
  43. ^ El País Staff (22 July 2003). "Sí, es el 'monstruo de los cañaduzales'" [Yes, it is the 'monster of the cane fields']. (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  44. ^ a b Cañas 2012, p. 127
  45. ^ Cañas 2012, pp. 44–45
  46. ^ a b "Así Fue Capturado Autor de 140 Muertes" [How the Murderer of 140 Was Captured]. (in Spanish). 3 November 1999. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  47. ^ Benecke, p. 162
  48. ^ "Condenan a 1853 años de cárcel al mayor asesino en serie de Colombia" [Colombia's biggest serial killer sentenced to 1,853 years in prison]. Caracol Radio (in Spanish). 3 November 2001. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  49. ^ Benecke, p. 166
  50. ^ "Indagan procesos contra Luis Alfredo Garavito para evitar que salga de prisión" [Processes investigated against Luis Alfredo Garavito to prevent him from leaving prison]. (in Spanish). 25 October 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  51. ^ a b Álvarez, Mónica G. (6 November 2020). "Garavito, la 'Bestia', y su agenda negra del horror: 'Aquí enterré todos los cadáveres'" [Garavito, the 'Beast', and his black agenda of horror: 'Here I buried all the corpses']. La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  52. ^ "El asesino múltiple Luis Garavito, se convertiría en pastor Pentecostal" [Serial Killer Luis Garavito Would Become a Pentecostal Pastor] (in Spanish). 25 March 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  53. ^ "Rebajan la condena del asesino en serie Luis Alfredo Garavito" [Sentence of Serial Killer Luis Alfredo Garavito is Lowered] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2010.