Man arrested in Spain’s La Rioja region on suspicion of killing a nine-year-old boy

The suspect, who was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for murder, is alleged to have lured the victim from a park under false pretences

Lardero niño
Funeral services remove the victim's body in Lardero (La Rioja) on Thursday.Raquel Manzanares (EFE)

The Spanish Civil Guard has arrested a man on suspicion of the murder of a nine-year-old boy. The minor, who was allegedly tricked into accompanying the suspect from a park, was found dead on Thursday in the doorway of the building where the detainee lives, in Lardero, La Rioja region.

The suspect, Francisco Javier A. L., is 54 years old and had served a prison sentence for a homicide that took place in nearby Logroño in 1998.

The victim’s body was discovered after a number of witnesses confirmed that they had seen a man take a young boy away with him under false pretences, according to sources from the central government’s delegation in La Rioja. According to sources close to the investigation, there were no visible wounds on his body and the cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

The alarm was raised via an emergency call at 8.25pm on Thursday in Lardero, which is around five kilometers from Logroño, the capital city of La Rioja region, and home to more than 11,000 inhabitants.

Minutes later, the Civil Guard patrol called an ambulance after having discovered the missing child in a serious condition along with the suspect. The ambulance crew unsuccessfully attempted to revive the boy.

Witnesses reported that the victim was playing with other children in a park located next to the Villa Patro elementary school. After the Civil Guard arrived on the scene, there were moments of tension, in particular when officers were preparing to move the suspect from his building’s parking garage. Around 200 people had gathered and were shouting at the civil guards to let them enter so they could “lynch” the detainee.

A number of residents also denounced the fact that they had previously warned the authorities that the suspect had tried to take children from the area. “You called us crazy and would just send two [officers] and now a child has had to die for you to all come along here and protect the murderer,” one female resident shouted at the officers.

The suspect was taken into custody by the Civil Guard in Logroño, while other officers remained in his home looking for evidence.

Witnesses explained to journalists that there was “concern” in the area given the presence of this man, who, they reported, was released from prison after having served a sentence for the murder of a female real estate agent in Logroño in August 1998. He was given 30 years in jail after assaulting the victim while she showed him an apartment he allegedly wanted to rent. The sentence detailed how he pushed her onto a bed, stabbing her. One of the stab wounds reached her heart, killing her.

The suspect was also given a seven-year prison sentence in 1993 for sexual assault.

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