León is a petit-bourgeois town with a low crime rate, a fact that criminologists put down to one simple reason: its elderly population. The lack of terrible events in the collective memory of this provincial capital means that the murder of Isabel Carrasco will not be forgotten for many decades to come.
Two women, a mother and her daughter, obsessed about the thought of killing the head of the León Provincial Council, and for quite some time (two years, according to some sources), planned a crime that looks for all the world like an ambush.
Both women shared a “toxic idea” that fed upon itself, and more surprisingly still, neither one tried to talk the other out of it. Criminologists consulted by EL PAÍS said they were surprised at the fact that the crime affects four women (one of whom is being investigated but is not arrested), along with three police officers (the husband and father of the alleged perpetrators, the retired policeman who witnessed the crime, and the local policewoman who turned in the weapon).
The victim was the most powerful figure in León, a woman who ruled with an iron grip in a world of men. Isabel Carrasco liked to drop by the headquarters of the local Popular Party (PP), which she also presided, nearly every Monday. But she had no established schedule or routine, much less during campaigning. She was typically there every Monday afternoon, but she might get there by any means of transport, and from any place other than her own home.
They acted with the skill of a hired gun, which might indicate a familiarity with weapons
On that Monday, Carrasco attended a lunch at Hotel Conde Luna and decided to swing by her apartment to change her clothes before going over to PP headquarters. When she came out into the lobby, she turned down an invitation by her partner to take her there by motorcycle. “My hair’s going to get mussed up with the helmet,” some neighbors heard her say.
Instead, Carrasco decided to walk, taking a short route that took her over the footbridge that crosses the Bernesga river.
Those steps across the bridge – probably between 120 and 125 of them, since she was a short woman – were to be the last of her life. Montserrat González, 55, and Montserrat Triana Martínez, 35, were waiting for her there, as they had on so many other days, trusting that she would walk over the bridge. It was there that they had decided they could kill her.
They probably analyzed her routines, but Isabel Carrasco was a very active woman who liked to improvise and be surrounded by other people.
“It is not for nothing that they chose a bridge that is two meters wide,” says Ricardo Magaz, a criminologist and former policeman. “It is a good setting for an ambush. It’s an ideal spot because the victim can be caught off guard from the back, making the killer’s work easier.”
Isabel Carrasco had beefed up security measures at the provincial council headquarters in León
Those 125 steps are covered in two minutes. “They were not in a hurry and had been studying the execution of the plan for some time,” says Magaz.
“But there is a very odd element in this case,” adds Andrés Pueyo, a criminologist and professor of forensic psychology. “It seems clear that the idea of killing her remained firmly in place, without one woman talking the other one out of it. Both were contaminated by a toxic idea. One of them, apparently the mother, took the initiative and the other was intoxicated. And this is sustained in time. This is not like saying ‘Come with me, let’s go shopping together.’”
According to sources at the provincial council, Isabel Carrasco had beefed up security measures there, and many civil servants had to access the building through a side door. The entrance to her own office had a security detail. But she walked around León without any protection, as she did on Monday, before attending the last lunch of her life.
Mother and daughter were waiting for her armed with a Taurus caliber 38 revolver. They had ruled out a regular gun for the job. “The choice of weapon is important. For inexperienced people, a revolver is safer, easier to handle, and it never jams,” explains Magaz.
One of Montserrat Triana Martínez’s three computers shows recent visits to arms-related websites, yet another sign of their complete determination. And then there was the matter of obtaining the weapon and the ammunition, a hurdle that was apparently cleared by approaching a drug addict in Asturias.
They fired three bullets. Two of them were used to finish the victim off as she lay on the ground
“This is a highly surprising aspect of the case, which involves two people with no contact with the underworld. But in this case, they were familiar with a police environment because of the husband and father’s profession [chief police inspector in the town of Astorga] and their friendship with a local policewoman. This kind of knowledge is not so strange in the homes of police officers, because knowledge of these environments is part of the world they live in.”
They fired three bullets. Two of them were used to finish the victim off as she lay on the ground. They acted with the skill of a hired gun, which might indicate a familiarity with weapons. In similar cases, women tend to hire a man to do the job, but not here.
“But this ease with which they decided to kill her turned against them. They didn’t think of an escape plan,” says Magaz.
“Planning the crime is important, but even more relevant is the escape plan”
Why not? “Planning the crime is important, but of even greater relevance is the way out of such a situation, the escape plan, which is what the professionals spend the most time planning. What these two did was very botched. This reveals the degree of their obsession, which prevented them from seeing beyond the crime. They just wanted justice to be done,” says Andrés Pueyo.
They did not consider the fact that they might be recognized by just about anyone at a time of day, 5pm, when children are leaving school and many people are going out for strolls by the river.
Instead the killers acted like proper citizens of a quiet provincial capital: first you park your car, you pay for the parking space, and after executing your victim, you go back to collect your vehicle.