Pedro Alonso LOPEZ
A.K.A.: "The Monster of the Andes"
Classification: Serial killer
Number of victims: 57 - 300 +
Date of murders: 1969 - 1980
Date of arrest: March 9, 1980
Date of birth: October 8, 1948
Victims profile: Girls between nine and twelve years old
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Peru - Ecuador - Colombia
Status: Sentenced to 16 years in prison in Ecuador on January 25, 1981. Released on August 31, 1994. Re-arrested an hour later as an illegal immigrant, and handed over to Colombian authorities who charged him with a twenty year old murder. He was found to be insane and held in a psychiatric wing of a Bogotá hospital. In 1998 he was declared sane, and released on $50 bail. No one knows if Lopez is dead or alive
Pedro Alonso López (born 8 October 1948 in Santa Isabel, Colombia) is a Colombian-born confessed serial killer, accused of raping and killing more than 300 girls across South America. Aside from uncited local accounts, López’s crimes first received international attention from an interview conducted by Ron Laytner, a long time freelance photojournalist who reported interviewing López in his Ambato prison cell in 1980.
Laytner’s interviews were widely published, first in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, 13 July 1980, then in the Toronto Sun and The Sacramento Bee on 21 July 1980, and later in many other North American papers and foreign publications over the years. Apart from Laytner’s account and two brief Associated Press wire reports the story was published in The World's Most Infamous Murders by Boar and Blundell.
According to Laytner’s story, López became known as the "Monster of the Andes" in 1980 when he led police to the graves of 53 of his victims in Ecuador, all girls between nine and twelve years old. In 1983 he was found guilty of murdering 110 young girls in Ecuador alone and confessed to a further 240 murders of missing girls in neighbouring Peru and Colombia. Lopez was released from prison in 1998.
According to López, his mother, a prostitute with thirteen children, caught him fondling his younger sister in 1957, when he was eight years old, and evicted him from the family home. He was then picked up by a man, taken to a deserted house and repeatedly sodomized. At age twelve he was taken in by an American family and enrolled in a school for orphans. He ran away because he was allegedly molested by a male teacher. At 18, he says, he was gang-raped in prison and, he claimed, killed three of the rapists while still incarcerated.
After his jail term he started preying on young girls in Peru. He later claimed that, by 1978, he had killed over 100 of them. He had been caught by a native tribe, who were preparing to execute him, when an American missionary intervened and persuaded them to hand him over to the state police. The police soon released him. He relocated to Colombia and later Ecuador, killing about three girls a week. López later said "I like the girls in Ecuador, they are more gentle and trusting, more innocent." The authorities had previously believed the disappearance of so many girls was due to sexual slavery or prostitution.
López was arrested when an attempted abduction failed and he was trapped by market traders. He confessed to over 300 murders. The police only believed him when a flash flood uncovered a mass grave of many of his victims.
According to the BBC: "He was arrested in 1980 but was freed by the government in Ecuador at the end of last year  and deported to Colombia. In an interview from his prison cell, López described himself as 'the man of the century' and said he was being released for 'good behaviour'."
An A&E Biography documentary reports that he was released by Ecuadorian prison on 31 August 1994, and re-arrested an hour later as an illegal immigrant, and handed over to Colombian authorities who charged him with a twenty year old murder. He was found to be insane and held in a psychiatric wing of a Bogotá hospital. In 1998 he was declared sane, and released on $50 bail. The same documentary says that Interpol released an advisory for his re-arrest by Colombian authorities over a fresh murder in 2002. He has not been heard from or seen since his release and to date, no one knows if López is dead or alive.
AP wire reports
Two AP wire reports from July 1980 and January 1981 are extant. The first is a late report of López' arrest in March, and his confession to killing 103 girls, including 53 whose bodies had been found. The second reports that he was convicted of three murders, and had confessed to 300 sexual assaults and stranglings.
When Pedro Lopez was arrested in 1980 by police in Eduador his subsequent confessions made him perhaps the most prolific serial murderer of all time. After being caught during the attempted abduction of a twelve-year-old girl Lopez stunned authorities with claims that he had raped and murdered 300 young girls in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia during his drifting travels, often times luring the children away from busy markets and streets.
Authorities in the region had previously noted the surge in missing children andhad attributed itto an unknown band of slave traders. Until Lopez talked it had beenunimaginable to them that one man was responsible for the bulk of the disappearances.
Lopez' success was mind-boggling but he was also the recipient of some good fortune. After committing roughly one-third of his kills in Peru, Lopez was nearly the victim of vigilatnes after being caught attempting to lure a young girl from a native tribe. Reportedly, an American missionary stepped in and not only was Lopez not killed by the Indians, he was never arrested or charged in a crime for the incident. He was simply deported to Ecuador where he continued to kill unabated.
After Lopez' 1980 arrest and confession he was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, ending the homocidal career of the "Monster of the Andes".
Pedro Lopez was born in 1949 to a prostitute. He was one of 13 children. At the age of eight, he sexually molested one of his sister, and as a punishment for this his mother kicked him into the streets. He was molested at that age by another man in a neighboring town. He was assaulted again when he was eighteen while in prison for car theft. He was gang raped by four older convicts, and this led to his first murder conviction when he killed three of the four attackers. He recieved a two year sentence for that. His term only made him want to kill more. Usually, he'd wander through the market till he found a girl that he could take to a isolated spot. First he would rape, then second he would strangle the girl. In 1978 he is said to have killed a hundred girls from Peru. In a Indian village he was caught trying to take a nine-year-old girl. The Ayachucos' Indians that caught him considered justice to be a beating then torturing, then burying him alive. But before they could do this an American missionary talked them into letting her take him to the authorities. The authorities took Lopez to Ecuador instead of punishing him for the crime. He killed and raped possibly 110 Ecuador girls. In 1980, he was caught leading away a twelve-year-old girl. This came after the unearthing of fifty-three victims. He took them to many other burial sites, but no other bodies were found. They think that Lopez led them on a wild goose chase on the other searches. Lopez is still in prison in Ecuador, and may get a chance for parole. However, if released he still has trials and prison time coming to him in Colombia and Peru.
Lopez, Pedro Alonzo
Pedro Lopez was the seventh child of thirteen, born in squalor to a prostitute in the village of Tolima, Colombia.
Exiled from the family hovel at age eight, after his mother caught him fondling a younger sister, Pedro was picked up on the streets by a pedophile who offered food, a place to stay. Instead, the boy was taken into a deserted building and there sodomized, a trauma that apparently did lethal damage to his already-twisted psyche. Homeless, terrified of strangers, Pedro slept in alleyways and empty village market stalls, drifting from town to town and living hand-to-mouth on the streets. In Bogota, an American family took Lopez in, providing him with free room and board, enrolling him in a day school for orphans.
At age twelve, Pedro ran away after stealing money from the school, his flight allegedly precipitated by a teacher's sexual advances. Six years passed before the future "Monster of the Andes" left another mark on public records, this time charged and sent to prison for the theft of an automobile.
On his second day behind bars, 18-year-old Lopez was gang-raped by four older inmates, a risk run by young men in jails the world over. Instead of reporting the crime, Lopez fashioned himself a crude knife and went out for revenge, killing three of his assailants in the next two weeks. Authorities describe the homicides as self-defense, and tacked a token two years onto Pedro's standing sentence.
On release from prison, Lopez started stalking young girls with a vengeance; by 1978, the killer estimated he had raped and slain at least 100 in Peru. His specialty appeared to be abducting children from Indian tribes, but the technique backfired when he was captured by a group of Ayachucos, in northern Peru, while attempting to kidnap a nine-year-old girl. Lopez was beaten by his captors, stripped and tortured. The Ayachucos were prepared to bury him alive, when a female American missionary intervened, convincing Pedro's captors that they should deliver him to the police. They grudgingly agreed, and Lopez was deported within days, Peruvian authorities declining to waste valuable time on Indian complaints. Once more at liberty, Lopez began traveling widely through Colombia and Ecuador, selecting victims with impunity. A sudden rash of missing girls in three adjacent nations was ascribed to the activity of slavery or prostitution rings, but the authorities had no firm evidence, no suspects, prior to April 1980, when a flash flood near Ambato, Ecuador, uncovered bodies of four vanished children. Days later, Carvina Poveda observed Lopez leaving the Plaza Rosa marketplace with her 12-year-old daughter, Maria. Summoning help, she pursued him, and Lopez was captured by townspeople, held for police, who began to suspect that they might have a madman in custody. In the face of Pedro's continuing silence, police tried a different stratagem. Dressing a priest, Father Cordoba Gudino, in prison garb, they placed him in a cell with Lopez, leaving Gudino to win the suspect's confidence, swapping stories of real or imagined crimes late into the evening. At length, when the padre had heard enough, Lopez was confronted with the evidence of his own admissions and he broke down, making a full confession. Liaison with authorities in Peru and Colombia substantiated parts of the prisoner's grisly, almost incredible story.
According to Pedro's best estimate, he had murdered at least 110 girls in Ecuador, perhaps 100 in Colombia, and "many more than 100" in Peru. "I like the girls in Ecuador," he told police. "They are more gentle and trusting, more innocent.
They are not as suspicious of strangers as Colombian girls." In the course of his confessions, Lopez made an effort to invest his crimes with philosophical trappings. "I lost my innocence at age eight," he told interrogators, "so I decided to do the same to as many young girls as I could." Trolling village markets for selected targets with "a certain look of innocence," Lopez first raped his victims, then stared into their eyes as he strangled them, deriving sadistic pleasure from watching them die. Hunting by daylight, so darkness could not hide their death throes, Lopez allegedly sought out one victim immediately after another, his bloodlust becoming insatiable over time.
Police were initially skeptical of their suspect's grandiose claims, but doubts evaporated after Lopez led detectives to 53 graves in the vicinity of Ambato, standing by in irons as they unearthed the remains of girls aged eight to twelve. At 28 other sites, searchers came up empty in the wake of raids by predatory animals, but the police were now convinced.
Originally charged with 53 murders, Lopez saw the ante boosted to 110 as a result of his detailed confessions. As Major Victor Lascano, director of the Ambato prison, explained: "If someone confesses to 53 you find and hundreds more you don't, you tend to believe what he says." Lascano also told reporters, in response to questions, that "I think his estimate of 300 is very low, because in the beginning he cooperated with us and took us each day to three or four hidden corpses. But then he tired, changed his mind, and stopped helping."
The change of heart occurred too late to let the "Monster of the Andes" off the hook. Convicted of murder in Ecuador, Lopez was sentenced to life imprisonment - a penalty that normally amounts to 16 years in custody.
With time for good behavior, Lopez could be eligible for parole in 1990, but Colombia is waiting to receive him... and the penalty for murder there is death by firing squad.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers
Serial Killer Released
By Ron Laytner - Edit International
"I often followed tourist families and their beautiful blond daughters."
Pedro Alonzo Lopez
QUITO, ECUADOR - Modern history's worst murderer, a serial killer of young girls, has been released from prison and is free to kill again.
Pedro Alonzo Lopez served less than one month's prison time in Ecuador for each of 350 young girls he murdered in three countries. But now he’s free because the country holding him has no death penalty and had to release him after 20 years.
Lopez became known as the 'Monster of the Andes' in 1980 when he led shocked police to the graves of 53 of his victims in Ecuador, all girls between nine and twelve years old.
Three years later he was finally found guilty of murdering 110 young girls in Ecuador alone and confessed to a further 240 murders of missing girls in neighboring Peru and Columbia.
When Lopez was a prisoner in Ecuador this journalist was granted the only interview he ever gave.
Meeting the world’s worst modern serial killer required preparation.
Pedro Alonzo Lopez was held in the center of an otherwise abandoned section of Ambato Prison on top of a mountain far from other prisoners for their safety and his.
There was an unofficial reward, believed raised by the families of his victims, of $25,000 US for any guard or prisoner who killed him. I was searched for weapons as I went through three levels of security.
Taking off my shoes, I tiptoed down the corridor and peeked over the edge of the small barred window into his cell. The Monster of the Andes, as he was known, was on the floor, sitting against a wall, huge hands flexing. On the wall behind him were faded clippings of his mass murder trial.
I sat on the other side of the corridor, turned on my flash and pre-focused my camera on the barred window. Somewhere down the corridor behind me a guard made a hissing sound. The guards liked to torment the serial killer who feared they would kill him.
The Monster stirred. He growled and ran at the window, grabbing the bars and snarling. That’s when I captured the picture showing his rage and powerful killer hands.
The next day I returned with the warden. While guards with cocked pistols watched through the little window and from the larger entrance to his cell in which he had been kept for 12 years in solitary confinement, I stepped into the cell.
From outside the bars, the Prison Director, Victor Lascaño, introduced me and I foolishly and innocently held out my hand for the Monster to shake.
He was surprised. Probably no one had ever touched him since he was locked away in 1980 following a three year killing rampage.
He stared into my eyes then gripped my hand and began squeezing. His enormous hand, which had exerted so much pressure on young girls’ necks that many had their eyes popped out by the pressure, now turned its power on me.
My hand went numb. If I’d been wearing a ring my fingers would have broken. Instead, the ends of my fingers began to swell up like tiny red balloons, gorged with blood. I was about to scream out when the Monster suddenly stopped and smiled. That’s when he decided to grant me the one and only interview he ever made.
He now invited the the director of the prison in with me, but only if the director's pretty daughter, who was acting as interpreter, came in also.
He told the warden he had not touched a woman in a dozen years. He would go forward with the interview but only if he could touch the hands of the warden’s daughter.
Everyone gasped. We three were now in th cell with the Monster. Guards aimed pistols through the bars. If there was shooting I hoped I wouldn’t be shot. Then the brave girl held out her hands and the Monster of the Andes, very carefully touched the ends of his fingers to her wrists.
Would he grab her by the throat and kill her? The moment passed. He released her and began talking. Later he told us that at about 26, she was too old to attract him.
With pistols aimed at him continuously so he wouldn’t suddenly strangle any of us, The Monster of The Andes answered every question - questions no serial killer had ever answered before: What is it like to kill? Why kill at all? And why such young girls?
Just as other men shave, shower and eat, Lopez killed on a regular basis slaying two, sometimes three girls every week, every month, every year over a three-year-long murder rampage.
Locked within his cell, watched by nervous guards holding cocked pistols, the mass murderer told me, “I am the man of the century. No one will ever forget me.”
Lopez killed his young girl victims by luring them away from market places with the promise of giving them trinkets such as hand mirrors.
He took them to secret hideaways where he had prepared graves. Sometimes there were bodies of earlier victims lying in the shallow pits.
Lopez lulled the innocents by holding them in his arms like a loving parent before raping them at sunrise.
He explained: “At the first sign of light I would get excited. I forced the girl into sex and put my hands around her throat. When the sun rose I would strangle her.
“It was only good if I could see her eyes. I never killed anyone at night. It would have been wasted in the dark. I had to watch them by daylight.”
He said it took the girls five to fifteen minutes to die.
“I was very considerate. I would spend a long time with them making sure they were dead. I would use a mirror to check whether they were still breathing.”
Lopez slit the girls' wrists or throats to see if blood was still pumping. If they had somehow survived, he finished them off.
“Sometimes I had to kill them all over again,” he admitted. They never screamed because they didn't expect anything would happen. They were so innocent.”
He explained how he snared his victims. “I walked among the markets searching for a girl with a certain look on her face, a look of innocence and beauty.”
“She would be a good girl, always working with her mother. I followed them, sometimes for two or three days, waiting for the moment when she was left alone. I would give her a pretty, shining trinket, then get her to leave with me for the edge of town where I had promised to give her another trinket for her mother.”
The killer also revealed he wanted to rape and kill the children of visiting tourists.
“I often followed tourist families, wanting to take their beautiful blonde daughters. But I never got the chance. Their parents were too watchful.”
Lopez acted out gruesome 'parties' with his dead victims propping them up in their graves and talking to them.
He told me and the shocked interpreter, “My little friends liked to have company. I often put three or four girls in a single hole and talked to them.
“It was like having a party. But after a while because they couldn't move, I got bored and went out looking for new girls.”
He explained why he only chose very young girls: “It's like eating chicken. Why eat old chicken when you can have young chicken?”
The monster's crimes came to light in 1979 when a river overflowed near the town of Ambato in Ecuador and the bodies of four girls were washed up on the banks.
Three had been strangled with such ferocity that their eyes had popped out of their sockets. The fourth child's eyes were still in her head frozen open in horror.
Three days later Lopez was captured as he tried to snatch another girl. Luckily for her, the 10 year-old's mother, Carlina Ramon Poveda, saw Lopez walking away hand in hand with her daughter Maria and screamed.
An angry mob of market workers pounced on the stranger, holding him down until police arrived.
He had been captured once before, revealed Lopez. “Indians in Peru had me tied up and buried in sand to my neck when they found what I had been doing to their daughters.”
“They had placed syrup on me and were going to let me be eaten by ants. But an American missionary lady came by in her jeep and promised them she would turn me over to the police. They left me tied up in the back of her jeep and she drove away. But she released me at the border of Columbia and let me go. I didn't hurt her because she was too old to attract me.”
But he wasn’t able to get away from the police in Ecuador. To find out whether Lopez had murdered the river bank children, police placed undercover detective Pastor Gonzales in his cell.
Detective Gonzales said, “For 27 days I hardly slept, afraid I'd be strangled in my bed. I kept a towel wrapped around my throat. But I tricked Lopez into confessing by pretending I was a rapist too. He boasted to me of murder after murder in Ecuador, Columbia and Peru. It was beyond my wildest nightmares. He told me everything.”
Lopez took shocked police to the graves of 53 of his victims, then refused to help further.
Two months later in 1980 he pleaded guilty to 110 charges of murder.
Police said the killer could have been charged with a total of 350 murders of missing girls but additional trials in Columbia and Peru would have been too complex and costly.
Lopez was already a convicted murderer before he started preying on girls.
He had slit the throats of three men who had raped him as an 18 year-old in a Colombian jail where he was serving time for car theft.
Lopez said he knew from the age of eight that he was going to be a killer.
He explained, “I was the seventh son of 13 children of a prostitute in Tolima, Colombia. All the children slept on a big bed behind a drawn curtain while our mother did her business with men.”
“My mother threw me out when I was eight after she caught me touching my sister's breasts. She took me to the edge of town but I found my way home again.”
“Next day she took me on a bus and left me off more than 200 miles from home. There I was found by a man who took me into an abandoned building and raped me over and over again. I decided then to do the same to as many young girls as possible.”
He tried to explain his killings, comparing himself to spectators who attend bullfights to watch the ‘Moment of Truth’ when the fighting bull or Matador faces death.
Said the Monster of The Andes, “There is a wonderful moment, a divine moment when I have my hands around a young girl's throat.”
“I look into her eyes and see a certain light, a spark, suddenly go out. Only those who kill know what I mean.”
“The moment of death is enthralling and exciting. Someday, when I am released. I will feel that moment again. I will be happy to kill again. It is my mission.”
That night I went to my hotel room, shaken, knowing I had just met the Devil inside a man.
I locked my door carefully. The world’s worst serial killer was out there in the night just a quarter mile away. I closed down the wooden shutters to my room and carefully locked them. I was so unnerved, I pushed a piece of furniture up against the door. Then I drifted into a troubled sleep.
At 3 am I awoke to find a hand around my throat, squeezing and choking me.
I screamed and fell onto the floor, almost breaking my elbow. That’s when I discovered it was my own hand! Thank God!
In my disturbed sleep it had made its way protectiely around my throat. I thought over and over again of the more than 350 young girls who had died alone and terrified at the hands of The Monster and of the dark secrets he had told me.
Ever since that interview I keep hearing the voice of the world’s most deadly serial killer laughing. “I will soon be a free man again,” said Lopez, then 33. “They are releasing me on good behavior in 1998 or 1999.”
For much of his eighteen years in captivity Pedro Alonzo Lopez feared he would be extradited to Colombia where he would have faced a firing squad in a country with a death penalty.
But it never happened. Instead, modern history's worst killer was released into the night.
They came for Pedro Alonzo Lopez some hours after midnight just after New Years 1999. Four loyal prison guards and an officer took him out of solitary cell 29 in Penal Garcia de Moreno (to which he had been moved) in Quito and with his powerful hands cuffed behind his back, put the world's worst serial killer into the back of a locked police van
Lopez must have been fearful. Would they simply kill him for the 'reward' money offered for so many years?
But that night there were no attempts on his life according to police and the Monster of the Andes went free.
Followed by two escort vehicles protecting the mass murderer from possible attack by families of his 350 young girl victims, he was driven to the Columbian border. The Ecuadorian government said they were deporting him because he had no visa to stay in Ecuador.
Lopez was given a bottle of water, newer shoes and a shirt and pants, a small amount of Columbian pesos and a package of food. Then he was set loose.
A week later police found The Monster of the Andes back in Ecuador, the best country for a serial killer because of its lack of a death penalty. They quickly took Lopez back into Columbia and told him to never return.
Meanwhile, in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, families who have heard that the Monster has been freed are watching carefully over their young girls in what is being described as 'a life of terror'.
Phone lines to radio and television stations in the three countries have been full of sightings and citizens calling on police to act immediately and capture Lopez again.
Jose Rivas, commander of the Carchi police in Ecuador, said Lopez was seen in the mountains between Ecuador and Columbia. Police, who are carrying my photographs of Lopez are currently searching without success.
Quizzed about the killer's release sometime in 1998 or 1999, Prisons Minister Pablo Faguero admitted, “Yes it does sound strange, but that is our law. The law of no executions or sentences longer than 20 years was passed over 100 years ago to protect presidents of Ecuador from being killed following revolutions and military coups. In the past they had been executed in horrific ways like being pulled apart by four horses. The law seemed humane.”
Victor Lascaño, governor of Ambato jail, where Lopez was first held before transfer to Quito, is terrified that he will strike again.
Said, Lascaño: “God save the children. He is unreformed and totally remorseless. This whole nightmare may start again!”
“He won't live long”, predicted the tough mother of Maria Poveda, the young Ecuadorian girl who helped in his capture.
“It will be a kindness to the world for someone to murder this fiend. The Monster of the Andes won't last long on the outside. Maybe that is why we haven’t heard of more missing girls. Perhaps someone, even the police in Columbia or Ecuador, have already killed him. If they have, I hope they made him suffer.”
Since He was taken into Columbia for a second time. Lopez has not been heard of since. There have been no cases of missing young girls reported. No one knows if Pedro Alonzo Lopez is alive or dead.
Police believed it likely that many fathers and brothers of murdered little girls would go after The Monster of the Andes when he was released. Perhaps the Monster of the Andes was finally murdered by someone who felt they were doing humanity a service.
When news of the secret release of Pedro Alonzo Lopez was first announced there was anger among victims families and some talk of trying to change Ecuador's constitution to re-instate the death penalty. But it soon faded away.
Since then Ecuador has become a training ground for serial killers who know all they face is a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Serial killing is a growing crime throughout the world. About 3% of all world-wide murders are thought to be at the hands of serial killers.
But police around the world hope there will never be another like ‘The Monster of The Andes.’
Police find 53 bodies
The Associated Press
July 14, 1980
Police in the mountain town of Ambato said Monday they have found 53 bodies of little girls who were raped and murdered by a man Ecuadorean newspapers have dubbed the "monster of the Andes."
The police told Quito newspapers the bodies were found in shallow graves in the Andean provinces of Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Pinchincha and Imbatura.
Pedro Alonso Lopez, identified as a 28-year-old Colombian, has been jailed in Ambato, capital of Tungurahua province about 75 miles south of Quito, since the first week of March.
Police said Lopez confessed to killing the 53 girls and at least 50 others in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
Lopez was arrested after he approached a girl in a public plaza in Ambato, a police spokesman said, and is being held in Ambato until a court determines the charges to be brought against him.
Copyright 1980 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved
Killer of 300 gets 16-year term
The Associated Press
January 27, 1981
A man who police say confessed to sexually assaulting and strangling 300 Indian girls in three South American countries was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison, court officials reported Tuesday.
They said Pedro Alonso Lopez, 32, of Colombia, was convicted on three counts of murder, but Ecuadorean law sets 16 years as the maximum punishment for murder and prohibits consecutive sentences.
Lopez was convicted and sentenced Monday in the southern town of Ambato by Judge Jose Roberto Cobos Moscoso.
He was arrested there nine months ago and police told the court he bragged of killing the girls in the Andes regions of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.
They said he led investigators to the graves of 59 girls between the ages of 7 and 13.
Lopez once boasted that he would write a book about his crimes.
Murderer of 350 Children Free to Slaughter More
Scotland on Sunday
December 6, 1998
ONE of modern history's worst murderers, a serial killer of 350 children, has been released from prison and is free to kill again. Pedro Alonzo Lopez served less than one month in jail in Ecuador for each of the young girls he murdered in three countries.
In a move that is baffling to nations with more severe justice systems he has been released for 'good behaviour'.
Lopez became known as the 'Monster of the Andes' in 1980 when he led police to the graves of 53 of his victims in Ecuador, all girls between nine and 12 years old. Three years later he was found guilty of murdering 110 young girls in Ecuador and confessed to a further 240 murders of missing girls in neighbouring Peru and Colombia.
In an exclusive 1994 interview in his prison cell at Ambato, Ecuador, Lopez, then 43, said: "I will soon be a free man again. They are releasing me on good behaviour."
Lopez killed on a regular basis, murdering two or three girls every week over a three-year period. "I am the man of the century," he said. "No one will ever forget me."
He had been captured once before . "Indians in Peru had me tied up and buried in sand up to my neck. They had placed syrup on me and were going to let me be eaten by ants. But an American missionary lady came by in her jeep and promised them she would turn me over to police.
They left me tied up in the back of her jeep and she drove away. But she released me at the border of Colombia and let me go. She didn't attract me because she was too old."
As a killer he compares himself to spectators who attend bullfights as they watch in fascination waiting for the kill.
"There is a wonderful moment, a divine moment, when I have my hands around a young girl's throat. I look into her eyes and see a certain light, a spark, suddenly go out.
Her fingers flutter briefly a The moment of death is enthralling and exciting. Only those who actually kill know what I mean. Someday, when I am released, I will feel that moment again. I will be happy to kill again. It is my mission."
On his release the government of Ecuador, which has no death penalty, quietly and secretly deported the mass murderer to Colombia because he had no visa to be in Ecuador. A week later police found him back in Ecuador. They took him back to Colombia and he has not been heard of since.
Lopez killed his young girl victims by luring them away from market places with the promise of trinkets such as hand mirrors.
He took them to hideaways where he had prepared graves.
Sometimes there were bodies of earlier victims lying in the shallow pits.
Lopez lulled them with cuddles before raping them at sunrise. He explained: " When the sun rose I would strangle her. It was only good if I could see her eyes. I never killed anyone at night. It would have been wasted in the dark. I had to watch them by daylight."
He said it took the girls five to 15 minutes to die. "I was very considerate. I would spend a long time with them making sure they were dead. I would use a mirror to check if they were still breathing."
Lopez claimed he would then carry out gruesome 'parties' with his dead victims, propping them up in their graves and talking to them.
"I walked among the markets searching for a girl with a certain look on her face, a look of innocence and beauty. She would be a good girl, always working with her mother. I followed them, sometimes for two or three days, waiting for the moment when she was left alone."
Lopez often stalked the children of visiting tourists.
"I spent many days following English and Scottish families and their beautiful blonde daughters. But I never got the chance to take some. Their parents were too watchful."
Lopez's crimes came to light in 1979 when a river overflowed near the town of Ambato in Ecuador and the bodies of four girls were washed up on the banks.
Three days later Lopez was captured as he tried to snatch another girl. Luckily the 10-year-old's mother, Carlina Poveda, saw Lopez walking away hand in hand with her daughter Maria, and screamed. An angry mob of market workers pounced on the stranger, holding him down until police arrived.
To find out whether Lopez had murdered the river bank children, police placed undercover detective Pastor Gonzales in his cell. Eventually Lopez revealed the truth,
Lopez eventually taking police officers to the graves of 53 of his victims. Two months later, in 1980, he pleaded guilty to 110 charges of murder.
Police said the killer could have been charged with a total of 350 murders of missing girls but additional trials in Colombia and Peru would have been too complex and costly.
Lopez was already a convicted murderer before he started preying on girls. He slit the throats of three men who had raped him as an 18-year-old in a Colombian jail where he was serving time for car theft.
He said he knew from the age of eight that he was going to be a killer, explaining: "I was the seventh son of 13 children of a prostitute in Tolima, Colombia. My mother threw me out when I was eight after she caught me touching my sister's breasts, and I was taken in by a man who raped me over and over again. I decided then to do the same to as many young girls as possible."
Quizzed about the killer's release in the summer of 1998, prisons minister Pablo Faguero would only say: "Yes, it does sound strange, but that is our law."
For much of his 18 years in captivity Pedro Alonzo Lopez feared he would be handed over to the authorities in Colombia, where he would have faced a firing squad. But although the killer is now free, he can never feel safe from the families of his victims.
"He won't live long," predicted the tough mother of Maria Poveda, the young Ecuadorian girl who helped in his capture. "It will be a kindness to the world for someone to murder this fiend."
Inside the Mind of Serial Killer Pedro Alonzo
Monster of Andes Mutilated and Killed 350 Girls.
Scottish Daily Record
February 10, 2001
THE prison van slipped through the gates of the jail in the dead of night and made its way towards the Colombian border.
For several hours, it sped from the capital city Quito through quiet Ecuadorian villages where children slept, unaware of the unimaginable horror that was passing briefly through their lives.
Later, as dawn was breaking, the vehicle pulled off the road and Pedro Alonzo Lopez was bundled out the back door on to the soil of Colombia, his homeland. The Monster of the Andes, the worst and most feared serial killer in the world, had been released to strike again.
Next week cinemagoers will seek entertainment in terror when Hannibal, the follow-up to Silence of the Lambs, is released in Britain.
However, the people of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru know they still have a demon lurking in their midst more wicked than any character Sir Anthony Hopkins could ever portray.
Lopez was responsible for the death and mutilation of 350 young girls over a three-year period before his arrest in Ecuador in 1979.
Astonishingly, he was released in secret in early 1999, having served the maximum 20-year prison sentence allowed in the Central American country, which has no death penalty.
The lives of each of his little victims, most between the ages of nine and 12, were judged by authorities to be worth little more than a month.
And, in his only ever interview, he pledged to murder again as soon as he was released, admitting: "I will be happy to kill again, it is my mission."
I am the only journalist to have ever spoken with Lopez and visited him at his prison in Ambato, Ecuador, shortly before his release, where he gave a gruesome insight into the tortured mind of a serial killer.
Lopez, now in his forties, spent his 20-year sentence in solitary confinement, never meeting fellow prisoners and rarely mixing with guards after relatives of the victims put a $ 25,000 bounty on his head.
I stepped into cell 29 while several guards cocked their pistols and stood watch on the other side of the bars where my nervous interpreter cowered behind the warden.
Lopez gripped my hand and started squeezing hard with the same enormous fingers that had strangled the life so easily from so many innocent victims.
He broke into a smile but his eyes remained dead, darting from me to faded and yellowing newspaper clippings on his exploits which were pinned to the cell wall like sick trophies to his reign of terror.
He was born to be a killer, he confessed, and first murdered when he slit the throats of three fellow prisoners who had raped him when he was 18 and serving time for car theft.
He revealed: "I am the seventh son of 13 children born to a prostitute in Colombia. My mother threw me out when I was eight for touching my sister's breast and I was taken in by a man who raped me over and over again.
"I decided then to do the same to as many young girls as possible."
His killing spree began in the late Seventies when he lured hundreds of young girls away from their parents at busy markets.
He even set his sights on a young girl, who might even have been Scottish, when her tourist family stumbled into his ghoulish path. He recalled: "I walked among the markets searching for a girl with a certain look on her face of innocence and beauty.
"She would be a good girl, always working with her mother. I followed them, sometimes for two or three days, waiting for the moment she was left alone.
"Once, I even spent two days following a tourist family. I was told they came from England or Scotland. I really wanted to take their beautiful blonde daughter, but I never got the chance. Her parents were too watchful."
Lopez led his victims to secret hideaways where he had previously prepared graves, often with as many as three bodies already lying in the shallow pits.
Lopez, who persuaded them to follow with the promise of gifts and trinkets, even lulled the terrified youngsters like a loving parent before raping and murdering them at sunrise. He explained: "At the first sign of light I would get excited. I forced the girl into sex and put my hands against her throat. When the sun rose I would strangle her.
"It was only good if I could see her eyes. I never killed anyone at night. It would have been wasted in the dark. I had to watch them by daylight.
"It took them between five and 15 minutes to die. Sometimes I had to kill them all over again. They never screamed because they didn't expect anything would happen. They were innocent."
Lopez would often indulge in sick, gruesome games with his victims, even propping them up in their graves for conversations and macabre 'parties'.
He added: "My little friends liked to have company. I often put three or four girls in a single hole and talked to them.
"It was like having a party, but after a while, because they couldn't move, I got bored and went looking for new girls." His horrifying wickedness came to an end in 1979 when he was caught by angry locals trying to lure a 10-year-old from a market in Ecuador.
Three days earlier, the bodies of four victims had been washed up on a local river bank after a flood. Three had been strangled with such severity their eyes had popped out of their sockets.
Incredibly, he had been captured before, but an American missionary in Peru persuaded village chiefs to let him go. He said: "Indians in Peru had me tied up and buried me in sand up to my neck when they found what I had been doing to their daughters.
"They placed syrup on me and were going to let me be eaten by ants, but an American missionary came by in her Jeep and promised she would turn me over to the police. They left me tied up in her Jeep and she drove away , but she released me at the border with Colombia." Lopez eventually pleaded guilty to 110 charges of murder in Ecuador and admitted a further 240 murders in Peru and Columbia, but cost and complexity prevented him ever standing trial in those countries, where he would undoubtedly have faced a firing squad.
The people in all three countries were outraged when, two months after the event, they were told he had been released under the cover of darkness to prevent baying mobs and vigilantes gathering at the prison gates.
Even Victor Lascano, the governor of Ambato Jail, said: "God save the children. He is unreformed and totally remorseless. This whole nightmare may start again."
Television and radio stations in the three countries are still besieged with phone calls from frantic parents who swear to have seen Lopez lurking in their communities. Every police officer in the border area between Colombia and Ecuador carries the photo of Lopez on this page, the one I took, in their wallet.
It was the screams of Carlina Ramon Poveda that finally led to the capture of Lopez after she spotted him making off with her daughter Maria, 10.
Carlina said: "It will be a kindness to the world for someone to murder this fiend. The Monster of the Andes won't last long on the outside.
"Maybe that is why we haven't heard of more missing girls. Perhaps someone, even the police in Colombia or Ecuador, have already killed him. If they have, I hope they made him suffer."
There have been no cases of missing young girls reported in Ecuador, Colombia or Peru in the last two years. No-one knows if Pedro Alonzo Lopez is dead or alive.
Perhaps the Monster of the Andes was finally murdered by someone who felt they were doing humanity a service. Perhaps he is simply biding his time before his orgy of unimaginable wickedness begins all over again.
Additional reporting by Gary Ralston.
Pedro Lopez: The "Monster of the Andes"
by David Lohr
Pedro Alonzo Lopez was born in Tolmia, Colombia, in 1949, during the height of the countries "La Violencia" period. This was in fact the last place on earth anyone would have wanted to be born. The country was ruled by riots and unthinkable acts of violence. The problems began just one year earlier, in 1948, when a popular Liberal politician, Jorge Elie´cer Gaita´n, was assassinated and a civil war broke loose. The war would continue for the next 10 years and take over 200,000 lives before it was over.
The son of a penniless prostitute, Pedro was the seventh of 13 children, and his early years could be described as anything but joyous. His mother was an overbearing woman who dominated her children with an ironclad fist. Regardless of his home life, anything was better than being out on the mean streets. Human rights violations by the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and members of the national armed forces were commonplace, and the countries crime rate was fifty times higher than all other countries in the world.
In 1957, at the age of 8, Pedro’s mother caught him having sexual relations with his younger sister and his worst nightmare became a reality - he was exiled to the streets and ordered never to return home again. As bleak as the situation appeared, things quickly began to look up when an older man picked him up off the streets, and offered him food and a place to stay.
Pedro could not believe his luck and quickly accepted the offer in blind faith. Nonetheless, it was in fact too good to be true. Instead of being taken to a plush home with food and bedding, the man took Pedro to an abandoned building, where he sodomized him numerous times before tossing him out onto the cold hard streets.
Following his misfortune with the older man, Pedro became terrified of strangers. He slept in alleyways and deserted buildings, and would only meander out at night in search of food from trash cans and local dumps. It was almost a year before Pedro finally built up the courage to travel about the country and eventually ended up in the town of Bogotá.
After a few days of begging for food and scavenging dumpsters, a resident American couple approached him. The elder couple was distressed by Pedro’s skeletal appearance and was heartbroken watching him beg for food. They provided him with a warm meal and asked him to come live with them. With little other choices left, Pedro accepted their offer and went home with the couple. He was provided with free room and board and eventually enrolled in a day school for orphans.
Regardless of Pedro’s apparent good fortune, as with everything else in his life, it was not meant to be. In 1963, at the age of 12, a male teacher sexually molested him at his day school. All of Pedro’s previous fears were reborn and anger grew within him. Following the incident, he stole money from an office in the school and ran away from home.
Pedro returned to the only safe place he knew -- his first true home, the streets of Colombia. The countries civil war was becoming a thing of the past and the cold war was nearly over. The government was reorganizing, and factories, which had been built during the depression, were slowly beginning to reopen. Nonetheless, Pedro had never been skilled in any trades and held only a minimal education. He spent the next six years of his life begging for food and committing petty thefts in order to survive.
By his mid-teens, Pedro began stealing cars to support himself. He had little to lose and local chop shops paid him well for his services. He was a very proficient car thief and was looked up to by younger apprentices of the trade.
In spite of his skills, in 1969, 18-year-old Pedro was arrested by authorities for car theft and sentenced to serve seven years in prison. He served just two days behind bars before being brutally gang-raped by four older inmates. Following this most recent attack, Pedro swore to himself that no one would ever touch him again.
In retaliation, he fashioned a crude knife from prison utensils and spent the following two weeks getting his revenge by individually murdering each of the four men that had raped him. Authorities deemed the murders self-defense, and simply added an additional two years to Pedro’s initial sentence for the car theft.
Prison time, combined with his previous hardships, did irreparable damage to Pedro’s mind and seemed to have pushed him over the edge of what little sanity he still held dear. Due to mental abuse he endured at the hands of his mother during his early years, he had grown fearful of women. He found social intercourse with them impracticable, and fulfilled his desires through pornographic books and magazines. In Pedro’s mind, his mother was to blame for all of his life’s suffering and heartaches.
A Madman Captured
Upon his release from prison in 1978, Pedro traveled widely throughout Peru. It was during this time that he later claimed to have begun stalking and killing at least 100 young girls from various Indian tribes throughout the region. While it is impossible to verify these claims, it is known that he was captured by a group of Ayachucos, in northern Peru, while attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl. The Indians stripped and tortured Pedro for hours before deciding to bury him alive. Nonetheless, luck was apparently on his side, because an American missionary intervened and convinced his captors that murder was ungodly and that they should turn Pedro over to the proper authorities. They reluctantly agreed and remanded their prisoner over to the Peruvian authorities. Not wanting to waste time investigating petty Indian complaints, the Peruvian Government deported Pedro back to Ecuador.
Following his return to Ecuador, Pedro began traveling extensively around the region, including frequent stops in Colombia. Authorities soon began to notice an increase in missing persons cases involving young girls, however they quickly concluded that they were due to the growing South American sex slave rings.
In April of 1980, a flash flood near Ambato, Ecuador, caused authorities to take a second look at their missing persons cases when the raging waters unearthed the remains of four missing children. While it was difficult for them to determine the causes of death, they concluded that the girls had obviously met foul play since someone had taken pains to hide their bodies from prying eyes.
Just days after the flash flood, a local resident, Carvina Poveda, was shopping at a local marketplace with her 12-year-old daughter Marie, when an unknown man attempted to abduct the young girl. Carvina cried out for help as the man tried to flee the market with her daughter in his arms. Local merchants quickly came to her aide, chased the man down before he could make his escape, and held him down as the authorities were summoned.
Pedro was rambling incoherently when police arrived at the scene. As they traveled back to headquarters with their suspect in tow, their initial conclusion was that they had a madman in custody.
Once back at police headquarters, Pedro refused to cooperate with authorities and remained silent throughout their lines of questioning. Investigators soon realized that they would have to employ a different strategy in order to get their suspect to talk. One of the officers soon suggested that they dress up a local priest, Father Cordoba Gudino, in prison garb and place him in a cell with Pedro. The plan was for Father Gudino to win the suspect’s confidence and get him to discuss his crime.
It did not take long for Pedro to begin talking, and by the next day he had revealed such repulsive acts of violence to the padre, that he could hear no more and asked to be taken out of the cell. Following a brief interview with Father Gudino, investigators confronted Pedro with their newly acquired evidence and he finally broke down.
Pedro confessed to investigators that he had murdered at least 110 girls in Ecuador, 100 in Colombia, and “many more than 100” in Peru. “I like the girls in Ecuador,” he told them. “They are more gentle and trusting, more innocent. They are not as suspicious of strangers as Colombian girls.”
In the course of his confessions, Pedro blamed his crimes on his hard life and lonely adolescence. “I lost my innocence at age eight,” he explained, “so I decided to do the same to as many young girls as I could.” When asked how he was able to pull off his self-professed crimes, Pedro informed them that he often times trolled village markets for selected targets with “a certain look of innocence.”
He always searched for his victims in full daylight, because he did not want darkness to hide their throes of death from him. When asked what he meant by this, Pedro explained that he would first rape his victim, and then strangle them as he stared into their eyes.
He claimed to feel deep pleasure and sexual excitement watching their life fade before him. He went on to state that the horror would even continue after their death - he would often times act out gruesome tea parties with the bodies of the dead little girls - propping them up and talking to them.
Police were initially skeptical of Pedro’s grisly, almost incredible confessions, and liaisons with Peru and Colombia were unable to substantiate them. As Pedro realized that investigators doubted the truthfulness of his claims, he offered to lead them to several burial spots throughout the country. With little else that they could do, investigators agreed and put the plan into action.
Just days after his initial confession, Pedro was taken from police headquarters in leg irons so that he could direct a police caravan to his various dump sites. The investigators’ doubts soon began to vanish when Pedro led them to a secluded area in the vicinity of Ambato, where they discovered the remains of 53 girls, aged eight to twelve. Throughout the day, Pedro led them to 28 other sites, however no other bodies were discovered. Some of the investigators felt that animals had most likely scattered the remains and floods had washed what little was left away.
Upon arrival back at police headquarters, Pedro was quickly charged with 57 counts of murder, however Pedro saw the ante boosted to 110 as a result of his detailed confessions. The director of prison affairs, Victor Lascano, later explained: “If someone confesses to 53 you find, and hundreds more, you tend to believe what he says.” Lascano also told reporters that, “I think his estimate of 300 is very low.”
No information is readily available on Pedro’s brief trial, however it is known that sometime in late1980, Pedro Alonso Lopez was convicted on multiple counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
One chilling pattern that emerges about serial killers in general is the number of them reported to have been the children of prostitutes. Henry Lee Lucas, one of this century's most infamous serial killers, apparently started his rampage with the rape and killing of his own mother, a prostitute.
"It's part of the profile," former FBI profiler Robert Ressler once said. "Serial killers very often have obsessions of some kind with their mothers. A love-hate relationship, in popular language. These moms usually aren't candidates for mother of the year, although they aren't necessarily abusive either. The common thread seems to be the sexual element, mothers who were very seductive, who had many sex partners of which the son was aware. Of course, the children of prostitutes are more likely to be exposed to this type of behavior."
In January of 1999, Pedro Lopez gave an exclusive, one-time-only interview, to National Examiner correspondent Ron Laytner. The following are excerpts taken from that interview:
"I am the man of the century," Lopez bragged to Laytner while in prison in Ecuador. "No one will ever forget me.
"I went after my victims by walking among the markets searching for a girl with a certain look on her face - a look of innocence and beauty. She would be a good girl, working with her mother. I followed them sometimes for two or three days, waiting for when she was left alone. I would give her a trinket like a hand mirror, then take her to the edge of town where I would promise a trinket for her mother.
"I would take her to a secret hideaway where prepared graves waited. Sometimes there were bodies of earlier victims there. I cuddled them and then raped them at sunrise. At the first sign of light I would get excited. I forced the girl into sex and put my hands around her throat. When the sun rose I would strangle her.
"It was only good if I could see her eyes, it would have been wasted in the dark - I had to watch them by daylight. There is a divine moment when I have my hands around a young girl's throat. I look into her eyes and see a certain light, a spark, suddenly go out. The moment of death is enthralling and exciting. Only those who actually kill know what I mean.
"When I am released I will feel that moment again.
"It took the girls five to 15 minutes to die. I was very considerate. I would spend a long time with them making sure they were dead. I would mirror to check whether they were still breathing. Sometimes I had to kill them all over again," he admitted.
“They never screamed because they didn't expect anything would happen. They were innocent."
"My little friends liked to have company," he said. "I often put three or four into one hole. But after a while I got bored because they couldn't move, so I looked for more girls."
As of this writing, Pedro is still in prison in Ecuador, and may get a chance for parole. However, if released he will be required to stand additional trials in Colombia and Peru.