Autopsy reveals Spanish schoolteacher was sexually abused before her murder

Investigators find blood inside the house of Bernardo Montoya, the self-confessed killer of 26-year-old Laura Luelmo

Residents of El Campillo surround the patrol car carrying the self-confessed killer of Laura Luelmo (Spanish narration).Photo: atlas | Video: ALEJANDRO RUESGA | ATLAS

The statements provided by the self-confessed killer of a schoolteacher in southern Spain do not match the evidence found by investigators. The police have found “many traces of blood” inside Bernardo Montoya’s home in El Campillo, in the Andalusian province of Huelva.

Montoya said that after leaving his victim by some bushes, “I placed my hand on her shoulder and told her: Rest in peace”

An autopsy performed on Tuesday also shows that Laura Luelmo was sexually assaulted before her death, contrary to what Montoya has been claiming since his arrest.

In one of the two rooms inside the small house where Montoya, a convicted murderer, had settled after his recent release from prison over an assault and robbery case, experts found biological samples that are being analyzed by the Civil Guard in Huelva.

The 26-year-old victim, who had just moved to the area from northern Spain to take up a teaching position, was found dead on Monday after her family reported her disappearance the previous Thursday, when she failed to show up for work or to return calls.

Victim Laura Luelmo.
Victim Laura Luelmo.

Her half-naked body was located in a deserted spot five kilometers outside El Campillo after an extensive search, and showed visible signs of violence, including a blow to the head. The autopsy revealed that Luelmo was alive until December 14 or 15, suggesting that the attacker left his victim to die there.

Montoya, 50, had been the prime suspect since the beginning due to his long criminal record that includes stabbing an elderly lady to death in 1995 to stop her from testifying against him in a robbery case. He was arrested on Tuesday after trying to run away from the police, and confessed on Wednesday.

In the presence of his lawyer, Montoya stated that he killed the young woman but was unable to rape her despite trying. “She asked me where she could find a supermarket and I sent her to a blind alley. I jumped into my car and got there before her. I grabbed her and slammed her head against the door of the car. I tied her hands behind her back and wrapped her in a blanket. I undressed her from the waist down and tried to rape her, but didn’t manage it even though she was unconscious,” he said, according to a summarized version of the confession provided by the Civil Guard.

Bernardo Montoya in a photograph he shared on social media.
Bernardo Montoya in a photograph he shared on social media.EL PAÍS

But investigators have found “abundant traces of blood” inside the suspect’s home, which is right across from the house that Luelmo had rented out just a few days earlier. The young woman had noticed Montoya watching her, and told her boyfriend about it in a telephone conversation: “I don’t like the way he’s staring at me.”

Additionally, the autopsy performed on Tuesday confirmed that Luelmo was sexually assaulted. Investigators believe that Montoya is trying to avoid being tried and sentenced to “permanent reviewable imprisonment,” which is tantamount to a life sentence with the possibility of review. Only five people are serving this kind of sentence in Spain, where it was introduced in 2015 for particularly heinous crimes that include murder with prior sexual assault.

These same sources believe it is very likely that Montoya attacked Luelmo near their homes, which are located on one of the most deserted streets in the village, and then dragged her into the house where he sexually assaulted her, then took the badly injured woman in his car to the spot where he dumped her.

The suspect was brought from Civil Guard headquarters in Huelva back to El Campillo, a village of 2,000 residents, to assist investigators with the crime scene reconstruction. Locals standing outside the house yelled “Murderer!” and “We are all Laura!” as they banged their fists against the patrol car.

Montoya told investigators that after leaving his victim by some bushes, “I placed my hand on her shoulder and told her: Rest in peace.”

A life in and out of jail

Oscar López-Fonseca, Jesús A. Cañas

From the day of his birth on October 13, 1968, Bernardo Montoya has led two different lives. One life was spent between Extremadura, Andalusia and Catalonia. The other was spent behind bars: 20 years and 10 months, according to his criminal record. When he was on the outside, he and his twin brother Luciano – also a convicted criminal – would terrorize the locals. A former classmate remembers how the brothers once set fire to their fourth-grade classroom at an elementary school in Las Eritas, in Cortegana (Huelva).

But when he was in prison, Bernardo Montoya exhibited exemplary behavior – so much so that he spent the last portion of his latest sentence inside one of the lower-security modules. He was what is known in prison jargon as “a trusted prisoner.” He was allowed to perform jobs, which made it easier to apply for leaves. When he was released on October 22, Montoya had been working as the prison locksmith.

English version by Susana Urra.


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