For better or worse, serial killers continue to fascinate us. You can find their stories in every medium, from books, television, and podcasts. We’ve all seen or heard the gruesome tales of Bundy, Dahmer, and Ridgeway. However one name stands out not only for the sheer scale of his crimes, but the fact that he’s virtually forgotten.
Pedro Lopez, the so-called “Monster of the Andes” began his killing spree in the late 70’s, eventually confessing to the murder of over 350 girls between the ages of 7 and 13 across Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The Guinness Book of World Records lists him as the most prolific substantiated modern serial killer. Take a look at the history of one of the world’s most remorseless killers you’ve never heard of.
Pedro Alonzo Lopez was born on October 8th, 1948 in Santa Isabel, Colombia. His mother was a prostitute, and his father was killed by a gang when she was only 3 months pregnant. The seventh child amongst 13 siblings, Pedro was kicked out by his mother at the age of 8 for fondling one of his sisters.
The young boy made his way to Bogota, Colombia’s capital, where he joined a gang of fellow homeless children and began using an impure form of cocaine known as Basuco. After a time a man offered to take him in, even offering him a bed. Instead the man took young Pedro to an abandoned building and brutally raped him over and over again.
9 Cruel World
At the age of 10, an American couple found him on the streets and took him in. He was even enrolled in a school for orphans. This happiness was short lived, however, and at the age of 12 Lopez was molested by a teacher. He ran away back to the streets, the only home he’d known.
Years later, Lopez himself would address his feelings on his molestations with the quote, “I decided then to do the same to as many young girls as possible.”
8 First Murders
For the next 6 years, Lopez supported himself by stealing cars and selling them to chop shops. When he was finally caught and arrested, he again found himself the victim of sexual abuse when he was gang raped in prison. This time, however, Lopez would not be a helpless victim, and the “Monster of the Andes” was born when he stalked and killed the men responsible with a make shift knife.
When he was finally released, his true reign of terror would begin, and shock the world.
7 Monster of the Andes
Lopez made his way to Peru, and began seeking out young girls at local markets. He’d sometimes follow and watch a potential victim for days, waiting for the right moment. When the time was right, he’d lure the girl away with promises of gifts, such as a hand mirror.
Once they went with him, they’d walk to one of his hideaways, which often would have a grave already prepared. He’d hold them lovingly, calming them by cuddling until sunrise, when they were brutally raped. Afterward, Lopez strangled them as the sun rose. Some of his victims took between five and fifteen minutes to die. He’d later recall:
“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.”
Lopez had an insatiable lust for murder. During his rampage, he was murdering two to three young girls every week, over a span of three years. Always following his familiar routine, sometimes the bodies of his previous victims were still in one of his shallow pits as he lured a new girl to it.
He began hosting what he described as “parties” with the bodies, propping them up in their shallow graves and talking to them.
5 Narrow Escape
According to Lopez, by 1978 he’d murdered over 100 children. While attempting to abduct a 9 year old, however, his luck ran out and he was caught by a local tribe in Peru, who submitted him to tribal law. His body was covered in syrup, and buried up to his neck in sand to be devoured by ants.
Incredibly, an American missionary driving by persuaded the tribe to release Lopez into her custody, promising to turn him into the police. They agreed, and Lopez was placed into the back of her Jeep. Keeping her word, the woman turned him into the Peruvian Police. Shockingly, the police simply drove him to the Colombian border and released him.
4 Colombia and Ecuador
Lopez immediately continued his slaughter once in Colombia. He soon moved to Ecuador, doing the same, again killing between two and three girls a week. Years later he’d be quoted as saying, “I like the girls in Ecuador, they are more gentle and trusting, more innocent.”
The alarming rate of disappearing girls worried the populace. Families set out to find their missing children, even taking out ads in newspapers. Their fears would be confirmed in 1979, when, near the town of Ambato, an overflowing river brought the bodies of four of Lopez’s victims onto the banks. Now the people of Ecuador knew there was a child killer among them.
3 The Monster Captured
Three days after the bodies washed ashore, Lopez attempted to abduct 10 year old Maria Poveda from a market. This time however, the girl’s mother, Carlina, saw him walking away with her daughter and screamed. Lopez found himself surrounded by an angry mob, who held him to the ground until police arrived.
He was an immediate suspect in the murder of the river bank children. Unfortunalty for the police, Lopez was uncooperative and refused to answer questions. This led to a creative idea from Investigator Pastor Gonzales. Gonzales posed as a fellow prisoner, and won Lopez’s trust by claiming to be in jail for rape. Soon police got their confession, and a lot more.
2 Confession and Sentence
Lopez led police to the bodies of over 53 victims that he could remember the locations of. Together with his confessions, he was officially charged with the murders of 110 children. He also confessed to over 200 more, but shockingly, the police refused to charge him on the additional murders as, “additional trials in Colombia and Peru would have been too complex and costly.”
On July 31, 1981, Lopez plead guilty to 53 counts of murder. However, the laws of Ecuador prohibit a sentence of longer than 20 years for murder, and Lopez was only sentenced to 16 years, to the rage and bafflement of many other nations.
1 Where is he?
Even more frustratingly, on August 31, 1994, Lopez was released for good behavior, only having served 14 years of his sentence. During his incarceration, he gave one of his only interviews to reporter Ron Laytner, which included this chilling quote:
“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. 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.”
Upon release, he was immediately deported to Colombia, who attempted to convict him of a murder from 20 years prior. Instead, he was declared insane and institutionalized. He stayed in the hospital for 3 years, until he was declared sane and released on a measly $50 bail. He visited his elderly mother seeking money, but once discovering she had none, promptly sold her only bed and chair, then vanished. Besides vague rumors and conflicting reports, he was never seen again. However in 2002, Interpol released an advisory to Colombian authorities, recommending his re-arrest over a new murder.