‘The Prince’: the God-sent egomaniac who lured a Spanish teen to Peru

Félix Steven Manrique was arrested last week for holding Patricia Aguilar and other women in the Amazon rainforest

Steven Manrique at the time of his arrest in Peru.
Steven Manrique at the time of his arrest in Peru.SosPatriciaAguilar

He went by the name of ‘The Prince,’ he considered himself to be a messenger from God, and he said he needed women to take care of him. In exchange for their favors, he offered them sex and cosmetic treatments.

He misquoted Sophocles, Aristotle and other classical thinkers

Félix Steven Manrique Gómez, a Peruvian national who is accused of holding a Spanish teenager in the Amazon rainforest for a year and a half, is a 35-year-old with a high school degree who trained to be an electrician. But on Facebook and YouTube, using different names and account profiles, he would introduce himself as a savior sent to Earth before the imminent end of the world.

Patricia Aguilar left her home in Spain’s Alicante province as soon as she turned 18 in order to join The Prince in Peru. He had contacted her some time earlier through social media. She was found in poor health, and had been placed in charge of caring for five children, including her own one-month-old baby. Both were rescued during the raid against Manrique’s house and have been placed in a government program for victims of human trafficking.

When he was arrested on Wednesday inside a rundown house in the village of Alto Celendín, in the central Amazon rainforest district of San Martín de Pangoa, Manrique acted surprised and disinclined to cooperate with the authorities.

The Prince before being allowed a haircut.
The Prince before being allowed a haircut.

He looked untidy, sporting long hair and an unkempt beard. He was found resting inside a cluttered room. But when he was taken down to the Pangoa police station for booking, Manrique “began screaming to be taken to a hairdresser,” said a source familiar with the investigation. “He is a special person who takes care of his image, and he knew that this was going to go out in the media, that is why he took an interest in getting a shave and wearing dress clothes. He takes care of that, because he is still luring [women] on social media,” said the same source.

Manrique says he does not contact women in order to exploit them, yet he has no known occupation. During the time the police followed his movements in Pangoa, they observed that his wife and one of the other women went out to work to a restaurant every day while he stayed at home. Investigators with the prosecutor’s office and the police must now determine whether the four children he had with both Peruvian women were also working for him, or whether they fended for themselves. Back when the family unit was living in Lima, in 2017, the women worked as street vendors to feed the family.

A video recorded by the police at the time of Manrique’s arrest shows one of the little girls saying that she was fondled “by Uncle Lucho.” Investigators will now determine whether this is one of the aliases used by Manrique, who went by the names Steven Martínez and Steven Gómez on Facebook. He closed those accounts when news of Patricia Aguilar’s disappearance began emerging in Spain.

Patricia Aguilar, third from left, holding her baby after being rescued.
Patricia Aguilar, third from left, holding her baby after being rescued.AP

The internet is his world

Manrique made dozens of audio recordings illustrated with esoteric images, which he uploaded on YouTube a couple of years ago to explain his own apocalyptic doctrine. He did not use his real voice, but instead a text-reading software that used an accent from Spain. The name of his YouTube channel was “Gnosis Buddism Prophecies Prince Venerable Master Prince Gurdjieff.” In his online messages, he made numerous spelling mistakes and omitted punctuation marks, capital letters and accents.

One of the ways he attracted victims was by offering them cosmetic treatments. In June 2016, he posted the following jumbled message on his Facebook wall: “Attention Tablet girls During this year and the next I will provide natural treatments according to each case, you can grow breasts and hips up to three sizes. Free, complete discretion, the treatment is largely personal, flat-chested girls from Latin America I will only begin with girls from South America. Write to me if you are interested. I think it is sad for you to suffer and be made fun of if I have the ability and knowledge to help. I prefer to help you.”

One way he attracted women was by offering them free cosmetic treatments

In another message, he wrote “To all my lady friends from Venezuela Colombia and argentina [sic] I am going to travel from Spain if any girl wants to move from her house and country with me write to me / roommate system but fucking.”

At his Thursday hearing, Manrique demonstrated a superficial education based on what he has read on the internet. He says that he reads a lot about mysteries, esoteric subject matter, religion and philosophy, although he misquoted Sophocles, Aristotle and other classical thinkers.

“He has a very large ego,” said one of the sources who was there during his arrest. A relative of one of his female partners said the following about him: “He is brazen, aggressive, arrogant, spoiled.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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