Many things in life are beyond our control or solely based on random occurrences, such as who we encounter or pass on the street. While many of these interactions are nothing more than a fleeting moment, others can have a life-altering impact. This was the case for all of Luis Garavito's unsuspecting young victims in the 1990s.
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On January 25, 1957, Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos was born in Colombia and was the oldest of seven children. During his formative years, Garavito reportedly suffered extreme abuse at the hand of his alcoholic father.
After sustaining both physical and sexual abuse from such a young age, Garavito decided to leave home at 16. At that time, he began traveling all over Colombia and taking on odd jobs here and there, including working as a store clerk and selling prayer cards as a vendor.
Despite his unconventional lifestyle, Garavito also had a girlfriend during these years. While she had a small child, it has been said that Garavito treated them well, even though he allegedly had a "volcanic temper."
Even though it appeared as though Garavito was on a better path than he had been in his youth, trouble was on the horizon as he developed a drinking problem and started exhibiting belligerent behavior.
Then, in 1992, things seemingly changed course yet again. By all accounts, it appears as though this is the year when Garavito began his murder spree.
During that year, Colombia was in upheaval due to a decades-long civil war. This meant that many residents, including children, were homeless. As many of their parents had died during the unrest, it presented Garavito with a range of easy targets as no one would notice when the children went missing. This pattern would impact his life for the next seven years.
Even though Garavito knew that many of his future victims would go missing without any fanfare, he still was reportedly very selective. It has been said that he specifically looked for homeless boys between the ages of 6 and 16. After the initial encounter, he would then offer them gifts, candy, or even employment to lure them to his chosen location.
He would also take on different personas, such as a farmer, an elderly man, or even a priest. This, he believed, would help him avoid suspicion as he would never appear to be the same person.
After gaining the child's trust, he would then walk with them to tire them out and make them even more vulnerable. Then, he would attack them, bound their wrists together, rape, and torture them. In some cases, he even bit or beheaded them. These unbelievable acts of violence would inspire the nickname "La Bestia," or "The Beast."
Mass Grave Discovered And Evidence Leads To Garavito
However, in late 1997, police encountered a mass gravesite, which sparked an investigation. Shortly after, in February 1998, while searching another crime scene, law enforcement found a note with a handwritten address. The location traced back to Garavito's girlfriend. Even though he wasn't present when they arrived, his partner gave police access to his belongings, which was pivotal in linking him to the long string of murders.
After looking through the evidence, officials discovered detailed journal entries, photos of young boys, and tally marks that aligned with his victims. However, capturing him would not be as easy as the police had hoped as his girlfriend had not seen him for months. This was when the chase began.
Hunting 'The Beast'
Upon linking Garavito to the gruesome murders, law enforcement started visiting local places that he frequented. While these efforts were ill-fated, a stroke of luck would soon speed up their chase.
Approximately a week after they started their search, police were notified that a man in a nearby town had recently been picked up on suspicion of rape. At the time, a homeless man had noticed a young boy being harassed by an older individual. This led the man to contact local officials, which resulted in Garavito being arrested and booked on April 22, 1999.
Now that the puzzle pieces fit into place, police questioned Garavito about his potential connection to the murders. He quickly cracked under pressure. Even though he confessed to 140 murders and was charged with 172 counts of homicide, it is believed that Garavito could have been responsible for close to 400 murders.
While speaking to police, Garavito reportedly told them that he had been drunk during the attacks and that a "superior being had overtaken his body." He then drew maps for investigators that would lead them to various gravesites. This would play an essential role in his eventual punishment.
Following his confession, Garavito was convicted on 138 counts of murder, which should have resulted in a sentence of 1,853 years and nine days. However, Colombian law had a maximum prison sentence of 40 years, as stated by Article 37.1 of the Colombian Penal Code, and assisting the investigation reduced his sentence even further to 22 years.
Plea For Early Release Draws Outrage
Due to the graphic nature of Garavito's crimes, the public was understandably outraged when, in 2021, he was up for early release for good behavior after reportedly being described as "relaxed, positive, and respectful" by the guards.
However, despite his "exemplary" behavior behind bars, a judge denied the request because he had not paid a fine for his victims that roughly totaled $41,500. Garavito remains behind bars in an unknown facility where he has reportedly developed a deep paranoia and fear of being poisoned and spends his time isolated from the other prisoners.
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