The small, quiet town of Laboulaye, in Argentina’s central province of Córdoba, is trying to assimilate a heinous crime that nobody understands. After a search of over 48 hours, Joaquín Sperani, 14, was found dead on Sunday in an abandoned house just a hundred meters from his school. Shortly later, his best friend and schoolmate, who is only 13, confessed to the crime. He is being held in a juvenile center, but due to his age he cannot be criminally charged.
Both teenagers were best friends since elementary school, and the two families spent time together. “That boy is a psychopath. He was a lifelong friend of Joaquín, they went to elementary school together, they were there at each other’s birthday parties,” said the victim’s mother, Mariela Flores, in statements to the news agency Télam. “As a family, we would go to their country home. There was nothing there that ever caught our attention.” His father, Martin Sperani, added, “I don’t understand it. It is very hard to grasp, I just don’t get it. I want to know why he did it, but I don’t have the answer.”
Security cameras caught Joaquín and his attacker walking out of the school grounds last Thursday. They were on foot and they looked happy. Investigators did not detect any signs of what was about to happen, nor did they initially focus on the friend, despite the fact that he had returned to school alone. During the two days that the search lasted, the assailant pretended to collaborate with the police, providing false leads that delayed the discovery of Joaquín’s body. It was discovered on Sunday by neighbors and relatives of the victim who were participating in the search.
“We were walking with two of his cousins and we passed an abandoned house. We went inside and as soon as we entered, we saw the corpse. The cousins started screaming. It was like a horror movie. I saw the body and I couldn’t believe it. After that, we called the police and they took us out of the place,” a resident told the local media.
Joaquín’s mother is also holding the school responsible for not having informed her that her son was absent on Thursday afternoon. The bicycle with which he rode to school was still parked there. Mariela Flores said that her son suffered bullying at school and accused management of not having done anything despite her complaints.
According to preliminary autopsy data, Joaquín died from a head trauma that killed him instantly. He received at least 10 blows to the head, and there is no evidence that he fought back.
Sperani’s family has cast doubts on the official theory, according to which the arrested teenager acted alone. They believe the minor had accomplices. This possibility has increased the feeling of shock among residents of Laboulaye, a quiet town of 20,000 residents that is far removed from the episodes of violence so often recorded in large cities.
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