Luis Garavito: The Ghoul Of Columbia

There is really almost nothing to say about a man who is sentenced to eight centuries in jail for his crimes. And when a man is known for raping and killing young boys, well …

Silence is golden. But writing no more words would be bad for blogging, so we’ll force ourselves to tell his story because it is a man most in North America will not know about otherwise, yet is someone who puts Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer combined to shame.

Luis Garavito is considered one of the world’s worst serial killers (right up there with H.H Holmes in the U.S. and Jack the Ripper in Europe), yet because he was in Latin America, not many people know about him. His exploits were almost legendary in scale in that he confessed to sexually assaulting and killing almost 200 young boys between the ages of 6 and 16 over a seven-year period in the 1990s (about five every two months over that time), and it wasn’t until he was arrested for suspicion of sexually assaulting a boy that was not killed did the police find out about his killing spree.

Garavito confessed to every murder, and in fact drew detailed maps to show authorities where all the bodies were located. It is believed that Garavito may have killed as many as 300 by the time all is said and done, considering the number of unreported crimes and unfound missing children around that time.

As Garavito confessed to murders in Colombia (they were scattered about 11 of the country’s 32 districts) and Ecuador, he has had prison sentences piled on each other in that he is serving what amounts to more than 830 years in prison.

How did he do so much killing without being caught sooner? Authorities said he often would drift around the country, preying on homeless or unattended boys while dressed as a priest or monk, inducing the boys with money or drink. Many of the boys would not be reported missing because there was a lack of adult supervision or guardianship over many of these children, which made it easier for Garavito to steal away his victims, sexually assault them, mutilate their bodies, kill them and bury them with no one being the wiser.

It may not be surprising to learn that Garavito grew up in a rough childhood, colored with abuse from his father and others. He had just five years of formal schooling and left home at 16, gathering odd jobs before eventually drifting around the country. His killing spree began sometime in 1992 when he was about 35 years old, and encompassed nearly 60 towns and cities around Colombia and Ecuador by the time he was finally jailed in April 1999.

Colombia does not have the death penalty, but as the country has not had a serial killer of such magnitude before, and considering the victims and the general outrage of Garavito’s story, according to a website, there has been a push to change the law to allow for an execution in these rare instances.