Most Notorious Serial Killers
Garavito was born on January 25, 1957 in Génova, Quindío, Colombia. He is the eldest of seven brothers. Garavito lived in a profane home where he was physically and emotionally abused by his alcoholic father. In his testimony, Garavito also described being subjected to sexual abuse. His abusive and unstable familial living situation, among other reasons, led him to flee home at age sixteen in an attempt to start a life away from his family. Garavito started working as soon as he left home, traveling a substantial amount to keep up with the job demands in Colombia. Although he frequently moved, Garavito had a girlfriend. His girlfriend had a small child which she recalls him getting along with wonderfully. Garavito was known by his friends to be kind, yet easily tempered.
Garavito's victims were clearly identified by their age, gender and social status. Garavito targeted boys between the ages of 6 to 16 who were either homeless, peasants, or orphaned. He would approach the young boys, either on the crowded streets or alone in the countryside, and lure them away by bribing them with small gifts such as money, candy or odd jobs. He offered easy work for money and even disguised himself as different characters who could be seen as legitimately offering work to the boy, such as a priest, a farmer, a homeless man, a street vendor, a drug dealer, an elderly man, and a gambler. To prevent suspicions about his activities from developing, Garavito would change his disguise often. Then, once he had the trust of the child, Garavito would walk with the boy until they were tired and vulnerable, which then made them easy to handle. Firstly, their hands were bound. Then, Garavito would torture, rape, and sometimes decapitate his victim. In one case after another, the child's genitals were severed and placed into the victim's mouth. The bodies of the children all bore bite marks and signs of anal penetration; bottles of lubricant were found near the bodies, along with empty liquor bottles. Most corpses showed signs of prolonged torture.
Beginning in 1992, boys 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 poor, homeless, or orphaned. For years, these murders had gone unnoticed because many of the victims had no police report filed on their disappearance. Clusters of bodies had begun popping up all over Colombia, yet the criminal justice department did not take much notice until 1997, when mass graves were uncovered. This large number of missing children called for a widespread investigation, as these killings were not confined to a specific area. In February 1998, outside the town of Genoa, Colombia, two bodies of two naked children were found lying next to each other on a hill. The next day, only meters away, another child's body was found. All three bodies had their hands bound. The victims' necks were severely cut. The murder weapon was found in the same area as the bodies. A note that had been found at the crime scene had an address written on it; this information led them to Garavito's girlfriend. She was contacted, but told police that she had not seen Garavito in months. She did, however, give to the police a bag that he had left in her possession, which contained a number of Garavito's 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 traveling for work or away attempting to find his next victim. He was picked up by the local police just a few days later, on an unrelated charge of attempted rape against an adolescent boy. A homeless man had been close enough to observe the struggle between Garavito and the child, and felt it necessary to rescue the adolescent. He was arrested and, unbeknownst to them, the police had in their custody the man who was the most wanted killer in Colombia.
Garavito was arrested on April 22, 1999 on separate charges of attempted rape. Garavito was questioned about the local killings and his attempted rape charges. Police speculated that Garavito had planned on killing the young boy if the bystander had not interceded. After a short interrogation, detectives suspected Garavito of being the "Beast", although Garavito had insisted on his innocence. The detailed description of his killings brought Garavito to tears. For Colombia's Justice Department, Garavito's confession was not enough. Garavito had an eye condition which 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 the site of a mass grave. Garavito also left behind empty liquor bottles, his underwear, and occasionally his shoes. DNA was found inside the victim's anal cavity 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 his eye exam would help police pair the glasses to Garavito. By making it mandatory for all the prisoners, it reduced Garavito's suspicion; it kept Garavito from lying about his eyesight. While Garavito was out of his cell, detectives took DNA samples from his pillow and living area. The DNA found at the crime scene was a match to the DNA found in Garavito's cell. Garavito confessed to murdering 140 children, and was charged with killing 172 altogether throughout Colombia. He was found guilty on 138 of the 172 accounts; the others are ongoing. Although the maximum sentence for murder in Colombia multiplied by 138 comes to 1,853 years and 9 days, Colombian law limits imprisonment to 40 years, but because Garavito helped police find the victims' bodies, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years.
Luis Alfredo Garavito is serving his sentence in a Colombian prison, the exact location of which is unavailable to the public. Worried about his safety and well-being, Garavito has made an arrangement with police. Police cooperation and his continued good behavior have ensured Garavito's safety within the prison walls. He is held separately from all other prisoners because it is feared that he would be killed immediately. He is paranoid of being poisoned; therefore, he only accepts drinks given directly to him by individuals whom he trusts. His guards are on very good terms with Garavito because he is relaxed, positive and respectful towards them. He is considered to be a well-behaved inmate with a positive attitude. He is scheduled to be released in the year 2021. Colombian law, however, says that those who have committed crimes against children do not receive any benefit with justice and are required to spend at least 60 years of their sentence in prison. The number of years Garavito will spend in jail could be as high as 80.