CRIME

Untangling the emotional ties behind León politician Isabel Carrasco’s murder

Police are focusing on the relationship between female police officer and daughter of the killer

The covered body of politician Isabel Carrasco on a bridge over the Bernesga river in León.
The covered body of politician Isabel Carrasco on a bridge over the Bernesga river in León.Carlos S. Campillo / ICAL

There is something of the Greek tragedy about the judicial summary of the investigation into the murder of Isabel Carrasco Lorenzo, the head of the provincial government of León.

Made public on June 11, the document provides some insight into the relationship between Monserrat González, aged 55, who is accused of shooting Carrasco three times on May 12; her daughter Monserrat Triana Martínez, aged 34, whose hopes for a career in local politics under Carrasco’s tutelage had been shattered; and municipal police officer Raquel Gago Rodríguez, aged 40, in whose car Triana hid the murder weapon.

Carrasco, 59, who had risen through the ranks of the Popular Party to dominate politics in the northern city of León, was gunned down at around 5.20pm in a quiet residential district by Monserrat González using a 32-caliber Taurus police-issue revolver. She fled the scene of the crime to her car parked nearby, where she gave the gun to her daughter, who says she then put the weapon, which was in a shopping bag, in Gago’s car. González and Triana were arrested shortly after.

Triana and Gago have been close friends since their teens, meeting when the latter was a lifeguard at a local swimming pool

According to the summary, Triana and Gago have been close friends since their teens, meeting when the latter was a lifeguard at a local swimming pool, although they lost touch for a decade, getting back in contact again about 10 years ago. On the morning of the day of the killing, Triana called Gago to invite her to lunch, but Gago was unable to attend, and instead said she would call in for coffee afterward.

Gago was in her patrol car with a fellow officer until 3pm, when she finished her shift and headed to the apartment where Triana lived with her mother. Gago says she and Triana chatted in the kitchen, while González watched television in the living room. Gago says that at no time was any plan to kill Carrasco mentioned.

Gago told investigators that she then left the apartment and drove her Volkswagen Golf into the center of the city, where she did some shopping. While waiting for a shop to open at 5pm, she made several telephone calls, and chatted with a municipal traffic warden. At this point, she was within a few hundred meters of the scene of the killing.

At exactly 5.19pm, at the moment Carrasco was being gunned down by González, Gago received a telephone call from Triana that lasted 17 seconds, the content of which has not been revealed.

Police sources say that if Gago was involved in the murder of Isabel Carrasco, it is unlikely she would have been relaxed enough to chat with the traffic warden or talk on the phone. Officers who know her say she disliked firearms.

A few moments later, says Gago, Triana appeared, asking her if her car was unlocked. Triana then threw a bag on to the back seat and left, saying she was going to buy fruit. At 5.36pm, when she hadn’t returned after 15 minutes, Gago called her. Triana answered, but said she would call back. Gago then got into her car and drove away, passing the scene where police were arresting González and Triana, but she did not stop, instead continuing to a furniture restoration course she was attending in a small village about two kilometers away.

Triana says she waited a couple of streets away in her car while her mother shot Carrasco. Her mother than approached her, handed her the bag with the gun, and told her to “get rid of it”. When she returned to where her mother was still waiting after putting the weapon in Gago’s car, she and her mother were arrested.

González immediately confessed, telling police she had killed Carrasco in revenge. “I have been wanting to do this for a year. My daughter was going through a terrible time because of her. What she has done is beyond description. I was going mad.”

González is married to Pablo Antonio Martínez García, the chief inspector at the police station in Astorga, around 35 kilometers southwest of León. But González and her daughter spend most of their time in León.

At the moment Carrasco was being gunned down, Gago received a telephone call from Triana

Triana, a telecommunications graduate, had worked at the regional government between 2006 and 2011, becoming close to Carrasco, whom she hoped would open doors for her. But things didn’t work out. To make matters worse, Triana had allegedly been overpaid, and was being pressured to return around €12,000.

Triana and her mother blamed Carrasco. “I don’t know why she wanted to ruin things for me. She thought the world revolved around her, but for me she was a demon,” Triana told the judge overseeing the case.

Carrasco, a former tax inspector who used her contacts in the business community to launch her political career in the 1990s, had been head of the provincial government of León since 2007. In 2011, she gained nationwide notoriety as “the politician with 12 jobs,” after it emerged that, among other posts, she sat on the boards of the León Airport Authority; the Culture Institute of León; the Provincial Tourist Board; two savings banks; and Gersul, the provincial waste-management consortium. Her declared annual income at that time was €160,000. In January 2013 she was named as an official suspect in a case involving the misappropriation of public funds related to travel expenses, as well as the use of her official car to attend meetings at a savings bank.

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Carrasco had seemingly taken Triana González under her wing, but at some point in 2011, she fell out of favor, losing her job, and then failing to secure another post, which remained vacant. The official excuse was that there was no rush to fill the role because local elections were coming up. But local party sources say Carrasco had issued specific orders preventing Triana from getting the job. In fact, her instructions went further: Triana was to be barred from running again with the PP, ever. It was the end of her political career.

During her interrogation, Triana also lied, initially saying she had not seen Gago until she put the revolver in her car. “Raquel knew what I was going through, and my work situation. My life is impossible.”

Gago told police that she and Triana saw each other every day. “We didn’t have any male friends in common.” Theirs initially appeared an exclusively female world to investigators, who at first thought that Gago and Triana may have been lovers. Police have now discovered that Gago has been involved in a relationship with a married man for the last 15 years.

Carrasco thought the world revolved around her, but for me she was a demon” Suspect Monserrat Triana

The judicial summary shows that Gago did not tell investigators that she had met Triana just minutes after the killing. “I couldn’t believe what had happened. I was blocked, in a state of shock. I didn’t sleep that night,” she told the investigating judge, who ordered her arrest.

Gago says she did not notice the gun in her car until 24 hours after the killing, when she folded down the back seats to make room for a bicycle she was taking to be repaired. “That was when I saw the bag that Triana had put in. I opened it and saw a couple of scarves, and another smaller bag. I felt a revolver and was very frightened. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. Finally, I asked my sister to call Nacho García Prieto, a police officer I know.”

When García Prieto arrived at Gago’s house, he immediately accompanied her to the main police headquarters in León. “If I knew that Triana had put the gun in my car, I would have been able to get rid of it, but as you can see, I didn’t. Nobody has pressured me, and there is no reason why I would take part in something like this,” she told police, who initially released her.

But the investigating judge later ordered her arrest on suspicion of involvement in the killing, noting in the summary: “Raquel conspired with Monserrat and Triana to kill Isabel Carrasco … she played a key role in the plan by hiding the gun … she was a necessary collaborator in the crimes committed by them.”