The National Police have arrested a man believed to be the pedophile who kidnapped and abused five children in Madrid over the course of several months.
The suspect was detained in Santander, Cantabria province, at 7.37am on Wednesday, said Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz at a press conference.
The minister explained that the suspect, a 42-year-old Spaniard, has “a long criminal record that includes kidnappings, illegal detentions, robberies and even a seven-year conviction for sexually abusing a six-year-old girl.”
Fernández Díaz said the suspect had served time in the 1990s, but did not reveal his identity.
His victims were minors with no relationship to him, which made the investigation more difficult
The alleged child molester, who kidnapped five girls between the ages of five and 11 and attempted to abduct three more, always acted in the Madrid district of Ciudad Lineal, where he has his primary residence. Lately he had been staying at a relative’s apartment in Santander to “lay low,” according to police sources.
He was described by the same sources as “a real predator.”
The suspect worked as a used car salesman, is a fan of bodybuilding and martial arts, and has ties to organized crime, said the interior minister.
His victims were minors who had no personal relationship to him, which made the investigation more difficult.
The first attack occurred on April 10, when a little girl disappeared on her way to a candy store at 8.30pm and was found five hours later, disoriented, near a subway station several kilometers away from the spot where she was kidnapped. The child had been drugged and her body washed to remove all traces of DNA.
Another girl was abducted and found again in similar conditions on June 17, and a third on August 22. But this time, the victim was not drugged or washed inside an apartment. Instead, she was found an hour later in a barren field between two highways. The child told the police that the man did “ugly things” to her.
The police devoted significant resources to finding the attacker, and Operation Candy became “the only priority” at all Madrid precincts. Officers pored over footage of surveillance cameras in all the areas where the suspect acted, including on public transport, and they also analyzed details about 78,000 small vehicles that fitted with the description offered by the first kidnapped child, who is nine.