(CNN Spanish) – Luis Alfredo Garavito sounds scary in Colombia. To terror. To homicides and rape of children. Not in vain one of his aliases is “The Beast”. He was in charge of sowing horror in at least 11 of the 32 departments of the country, assassinating 186 children (including two murders in Ecuador) and raping 200, as he himself confessed in 1999, before being sentenced to 40 years in prison for these events. Now, his name returns like an old nightmare: he would have the possibility of getting out of prison for the time he was sentenced and the discounts he has had.
In 2018, the Vice Prosecutor’s Office of Colombia sent a request for information to the Organized Crime office of the Prosecutor’s Office asking if there are pending investigations against Garavito. The reason? Nancy Rocío Alemán, advisor to the Vice Prosecutor’s Office, maintains that this man is “on the verge of serving the sentence he is discounting” in the maximum security prison of Valledupar, in northern Colombia. According to the document, Garavito was convicted of the crimes of violent carnal access, violent sexual act and murder.
Considered from the time of his capture in 1999 as the worst serial killer in the world, Garavito has faced the possibility of parole for more than 10 years. In 2006, he was reduced to 24 years for informing the authorities of the whereabouts of the bodies of some children. That same year, an interview by Colombian journalist Guillermo Prieto La Rotta to “La Bestia” indicated that the criminal could receive reductions in his sentence for accumulated hours of study and good conduct.
In 2011, Senator Gilma Jiménez, now deceased, explained that when Garavito committed the crimes, the maximum penalty in Colombia, even for rapists, was 40 years in total, regardless of the fact that for the number of crimes and victims his sentence has been 1,689 years. The senator added that with a measure known as the “redosing of the sentence” and the confession, Garavito got the reduction of 24 years and has the right to reduction for study, because previously “murder or rape a child was not serious,” he said. Jimenez. (The regulations that came into effect after Garavito’s conviction establish that those convicted of rape of minors cannot aspire to benefits such as reduced sentences or house arrest). Finally, Jiménez indicated that to this must be added that if a convicted person fulfills three-fifths of his sentence, he can be paroled.
What would Garavito need to get out of prison?
The decision to grant Garavito conditional release depends on the first judge for the execution of sentences in Valledupar, where Garavito is currently being held. However, the court did not comment for CNN en Español. For her part, Judge Hilda Benavides, president of the Cesar Judiciary Sectional Council, pointed out in 2018 that information was being collected in different offices on possible pending processes to evaluate the case, which should reach the judge for a possible decision. Neither agency confirmed whether a request for parole was in progress at that time.
And this request -which can be presented by Garavito or his lawyers- is vital so that in fact the judge can even evaluate the possibility of granting it or not, as Juan Diego Melo, a criminal lawyer with a master’s degree in criminal law, explained to CNN en Español criminal sciences. If there is such a request, then the judge will evaluate two points: look at whether or not the convicted person has served three-fifths of the execution of the sentence (24 years in the case of Garavito) and analyze the conditions of the sentence. that he did while serving his sentence, “how he behaved, if he presented manifestations of repentance, of re-socialization,” Melo said. That is where the discounts for study or work would come in during the sentence imposed, which – should not be lost sight of, the lawyer emphasized – was 40 years.
But, Melo also warned that it is necessary to consider whether Garavito still represents a risk to society and the State. “And that danger that it may represent is important to the State and in part that justifies the attitude of the Prosecutor’s Office of asking if there are other active investigations against Garavito for acts with a connotation of sexual crime, homicides or kidnapping of minors, to reach conclude that this character is a danger to society and a latent risk, “he said.
If there are more investigations and they are cases different from those already convicted, then the authorities would first have to assess whether the actions have not prescribed – given that they occurred in the 1990s – and if the Prosecutor’s Office has the necessary evidence to investigate it. , take him to trial, prove his responsibility and finally get another conviction.
Currently, Garavito remains in detention, but who is the man who has starred in the most macabre files?
From Luis Alfredo to “The Beast”
Luis Alfredo Garavito was born in 1957 as the first-born of a family that would grow up with six other children in Genoa, department of Quindío in the heart of the coffee zone of Colombia. His childhood, as recorded by writer Harold Schechter in his book The Serial Killer Files (The Serial Killer Files), was marked by abuse. Schechter explains that Garavito was “subjected to constant and brutal beatings by his alcoholic father” and “raped by two adult neighbors.” Hence it has grown as a alcoholic and depressed person suicidal.
In the late 80s, began to change residence, after having passed through a psychiatric treatment center.
Deceit his victims
Since the 1990s, Garavito began to spread terror in Colombia. He attracted his victims by posing as a street vendor, monk, homeless person, disabled person or even representative of false foundations for the elderly and children, with the aim of having access to schools, as reported in 1999 the then attorney general of the country, Alfonso Gómez Méndez, months after capturing this man. “This is unprecedented in Colombia,” said the official.
Schechter point to what “The Beast” first earned the trust of children, between the ages of 8 and 16, with his empathy, chatter and often by buying them alcohol or giving them some money. Then he began to carry out his macabre plan, inviting the minors to take a walk through rural areas. “When the children began to tire, Garavito launched the attack. He tied them with nylon, raped them, mutilated them and then cut their throats or beheaded them ”, wrote the author.
Version that the then prosecutor Gómez Méndez ratified in 1999, when he spoke of the rugged case. “The bodies were beheaded and showed signs of having been tied and mutilated,” he said, adding that Garavito used to drink a lot and then tie the children. The remains of his victims were discovered in more than 60 places in Colombia. And Garavito had a clear profile: most were the children of street vendors who their parents neglected at some point in parks, at traffic lights or who asked for money on the streets. In short, low-income children, some of whom even lived on the streets, according to Schechter.
The crime for which Garavito was caught
For a long time, the Colombian authorities believed that this wave of disappearances and murders of children, in whose cases they also showed signs of abuse, corresponded to some satanic ritual. Until November 1997 the remains were discovered of at least two dozen children in a ravine and on a lot near Pereira, a city in the central coffee growing region. This fact led the investigating entities to create a working group at the national level that found similarities between the cases from all over the country.
The authorities gave his name and they issued an arrest warrant for the murder of a child in the city of Tunja, in the center of the country. But by that time, Garavito frequently moved around and already had a new name: Bonifacio Morera Lizcano
How did they find it then? First it was in the city of Villavicencio, also in the center of the country. The police captured him in 1999 when he tried to abuse a minor. The prosecution it had already been crossing information with its different departments to update the records and be alert to any event similar to that of the Pereira discovery. It was for this reason that when they compared the photographic record of Garavito and Morera, they realized that it was the same person. For this moment, Garavito was a homeless man with a long history of mental illness.