Man arrested over double Spanish beach murder claims he had mental disorder

Investigators still to fully clarify if attacker, a nurse who worked in Madrid, knew his victims

The apartment block in Laredo where the two victims lived.
The apartment block in Laredo where the two victims lived.

Investigators are still trying to find a motive for the brutal murder of two people in broad daylight on a beach in the northern Spanish region of Cantabria on Sunday.

The alleged killer, who was seen attacking a woman and her father by many eyewitnesses, has claimed he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the crime.

The suspect, whose identity has not been released, is a nurse who works at a Madrid hospital and apparently has no relation to his victims, although some sources said on Sunday that he had had a romantic relationship with Mercedes García in the past. Now, sources familiar with the investigation say that “it was bad luck,” and that the victims could have been anyone other than Mercedes and her father Gabino.

His unkempt looks were striking, but you couldn’t imagine that he was going off to kill someone”

What is clear is that the attacker ran after Mercedes, 42, as she walked along the middle section of La Salvé beach in Laredo after six in the evening, and stabbed her 11 times, killing her on the spot. Her father ran to her rescue and died of his injuries in hospital that night. An off-duty policeman chased the attacker down and held him until a patrol car showed up.

Both the suspect and his victims spent their summers in Laredo, where they lived near each other. The Civil Guard is working with several theories, although gender violence had been ruled out from the beginning.

Before committing the crime, the suspect – a native of Bilbao – was seen walking down the streets of Laredo by several people who described him as looking “unkempt.”

“I noticed that he was bald and that his unkempt looks were a bit striking, but you couldn’t imagine that he was going off to kill someone ...,” said one eyewitness.

The mayor of Laredo, Ángel Vega, says he has not slept a wink for over 24 hours. “I have a knot in my stomach,” he says. “I didn’t see him [the attacker] but I know he was quite calm throughout the entire night. I cannot understand how he can be that way, as though nothing had happened.”

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