CRIME

Who is Madrid’s most-wanted man?

Experts profiling a pedophile preying on young girls say he does not conform to the typical model

The store where one of the girls was abducted.
The store where one of the girls was abducted.Carlos Rosillo

An unknown man is terrorizing the Spanish capital. As far as is known, he has struck at least twice in the last three months, on April 10 and on June 17. He has kidnapped, drugged and sexually abused two girls, aged nine and six, and failed in an attempt with a third youngster, according to police sources. All of the incidents took place in Madrid’s Ciudad de Lineal neighborhood. But who is this depraved individual, who is keeping 125 officers and hundreds of families on the alert? What does he look like? Analyzing the known facts leads to a psychological profile of the city’s most-wanted man.

Police have been unable to draw up an identikit picture of the suspect given the contradictions in the testimonies of victims and possible witnesses, but his modus operandi does provide some clues. The first noteworthy thing is that, despite research indicating that pedophiles are usually people “with an immature personality, who have problems relating to others, low self-esteem and a strong sense of inferiority” and, in general, are usually reserved and lonely individuals, careful observation of the so-called “Candy” case shatters this mode.

He is not a murderer and he doesn’t want to run the risk of his victims suffering later misfortune”

For instance, the fact that once he had carried out his violent acts, he abandoned the girls within a radius sufficiently far enough away to avoid being recognized, but close enough so as to make sure they received rapid attention, reveals two important things. “The first is that the kidnapper was not violent beyond what was strictly necessary for his sexual satisfaction; he is not a child murderer and he doesn’t want to run the risk of [his victims] suffering any later misfortune,” says Vicente Garrido, a criminology lecturer at the University of Valencia. “This implies that he still possesses a certain moral and empathetic capacity, probably more than enough to have a normal relationship with his neighbors and relatives.

“What I mean is that in this case, unlike others, I wouldn’t highlight the marginalized or lonely profile of the attacker, nor must he seem like a weirdo,” he says.

It is also known that he stalked his victims, tricked them in broad daylight – specifically around candy stores and parks, where they were more relaxed and less alert – and took them by car to a place where he carried out the abuses alone, without being seen, meaning it must have been somewhere with a safe entrance and exit, probably not too far away, as in both cases he only held the girls for four or five hours. “Lots of people have cars, the only thing this reveals is that he is not poor, but neither is he someone with a lot of money.”

The fact he is a pedophile who supposedly roams around in his car before he makes his move means he runs a significant risk. It implies he has free time and “rules out someone with a lot of money or power,” Garrido says. Such risk-taking behavior – which is uncommon among child abusers, who typically groom or seek the complicity of their victims, or prey on their victims in private homes – is associated with youth: the research, criminologists and police all agree that the suspect is probably under 40.

His risk-taking behavior is uncommon among child abusers

He watches his victims carefully, up to the point that he is able to call them by name, as was the case with the first victim, whom he is thought to have tricked by telling her that her mother was calling for something. At the moment he captures the child, the key is passing unnoticed, according to experts.

“Given the age of the little ones, and the fact that the kidnapper is acting in broad daylight, his chosen method is the best one, the one that entails the least risk. If he were showing violent or sudden behavior, like picking up the child and running, it would put him much more at risk of being identified.” That would explain the third kidnap attempt when his potential victim escaped: if the capture fails, everything falls apart.

There is one other determining factor in the eyes of the police: the fact that he drugs and bathes his victims after abusing them. From a criminological point of view, this is revealing because it indicates that the individual in question possesses so-called “forensic awareness,” which is to say that he knows that the interaction between one person and another leaves traces that could convict him. Therefore we are not talking about “just a marginalized individual with no qualifications or notable intellectual deficiencies.”

He is no doubt someone who has been gambling with his freedom for many years in order to achieve his aims. “We will probably be able to find a record of prior abuses; if he doesn’t have any, it is because he wasn’t detected, but it is hard to believe that a pedophile would begin with such risky actions,” says Garrido. The police received 12 complaints from girls relating to attempted abduction, rape or sexual assault in the region between March and May.

He displays self-control and a certain amount of empathy: he is not an outcast

So who might he be? We’re talking about a male under the age of 40 who lives alone and is unemployed or works on an hourly basis. He likely has a record of sexual deviation – even if it does not show up in official police or judicial records – and displays self-control and a certain amount of empathy: he is not an outcast. He might have a close core of friends or relatives, though he does not live with them, and has a property with a safe entrance and exit available to him. He has likely consumed a lot of child pornography on the internet and has reached the point where he needs to act

Now that he has been turned into a hideous – albeit faceless – celebrity it is impossible to predict his future behavior. “He knows the police are on his trail and the neighbors are alert,” says Garrido. Will he move on to other places? Will he stay inactive? “They are questions that at the moment we cannot answer.”

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