On February 21, 2019, police officers from the Madrid district of Salamanca entered the home of María Soledad Gómez without knowing what they would find. “We began to knock on the door. The young man opened it a crack but left the door chain on. We insisted that he open properly. He took off the chain, opened the door and ran to the end of the hallway. He came back and we asked him about his mother. He told us that she was inside and that she was dead.”
That’s how police officers spoke of the arrest of Alberto Sánchez Gómez, known as the “Cannibal of Ventas” after the Madrid district where his mother’s apartment is located. Speaking in court on Wednesday, the officers who took part in the arrest described in a little under an hour the macabre scene they found in the victim’s home, and the cold confession from Sánchez Gómez, who faces 15 years in prison for murder and another five months for desecrating a body.
“We entered the home to see if she needed help. In the second room, we found human remains; and in the kitchen, a pot containing others,” said one of the officers. According to the public prosecutor, the 28-year-old murdered his mother, dismembered her body and ate parts of it in a bid to get rid of the evidence.
“He was very calm, I didn’t see any emotion of any kind. He was very calm, very cold,” one officer told the court, speaking about the moment of the arrest. The officer said that on the afternoon of February 21 he and a colleague had gone to the victim’s home in Ventas after one of her friends reported to the police that she had not seen the 69-year-old for nearly a month. “We had come to her home on other occasions,” the officer said. “There was a restraining order [against Sánchez Gómez] for verbal abuse.” After entering the home briefly and examining the scene, he requested immediate backup to take in Sánchez Gómez and inspect the place.
The police officers who brought Sánchez Gómez to the station in the Madrid neighborhood of Tetuán told the court of his cold confession. “We asked him if he had been with someone else in the apartment. And he confessed everything,” said one officer. “He said that he had attacked his mother from behind, and that he had dismembered her with a saw.”
According to police, while he confessed to murdering his mother, his mind appeared to be elsewhere: “He told us that he was worried about his dog.” Officers told the court that they were surprised by how nonchalantly he described what had happened, as if it were a “casual conversation.” When questioned in the station by an officer about his reasons for killing his mother, his response was terse. “He said that it was because she made his life impossible,” said the officer who took Sánchez Gómez’s statement.
The trial against Sánchez Gómez began on Tuesday at the Madrid Provincial Court. At the first day of trial, he told the court that he heard voices telling him to kill his mother. After his mother filed a restraining order against him, Sánchez Gómez had been living on the street, in friends’ places and in squatter homes. His daily life revolved around “drinking every day, smoking pot and hearing voices,” he said, adding that he “saw hidden messages” when he watched television. Sánchez told the court that he has had psychological problems for years, and that he began hearing voices at age 16. After returning from an internship in Greece some years ago, he was admitted to Princesa Hospital on several occasions to undergo psychiatric treatment.
On Wednesday, Sánchez Gómez appeared in the same clothes as the day before – a jumper with the hood over his head. He left court looking at the floor. On Friday, Sánchez Gómez’s brother will testify by video.
English version by Melissa Kitson.