An excavator continued to dig up earth on Wednesday in search of remains of women who were allegedly murdered by Andrés N., also known as El Chino (or The Chinese), inside his home in the Mexican municipality of Atizapán de Zaragoza.
The 72-year-old suspect was jailed on Monday following a police search that found evidence that he had killed and dismembered one of his victims, 34-year-old Reyna González, who went missing on Thursday of last week.
Agents from the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Mexico found jewelry, nail polish, shoes, a hair dryer and several items that have been linked to two other women who disappeared in 2016 and 2019, Rubicela Gallegos and Flor Nínive Vizcaíno.
The findings convinced investigators that they were dealing with a serial killer. Andrés N. has admitted to as many as 30 murders over the course of two decades, according to the news agency Efe.
On Wednesday, a police cordon kept reporters away from the site, located in the neighborhood of Las Lomas de San Miguel. A fire truck was parked nearby and police cars blocked access to the house. A local resident named Maura Valle told journalists that the suspect used to come to her house to buy barbecued pork, that he never had a sentimental partner, that he had a sister who no longer lives in town, and that he got along well with his neighbors and was even a local association leader at one time. “He had those street lights put in,” noted Valle, pointing as she stood on her balcony.
Andrés N. made a living by renting out rooms in his house. One of his tenants was a doctor named Fernando López who set up his practice in one of the rooms; he was told to leave before the authorities moved in for the search.
His last victim, Reyna González, ran a small cellphone store near his house, and has been described as a single mother of two or three children. “The man was always there at her store, always talking to her, always there,” said Karla Narváez, standing behind the counter of her pharmacy, located two city blocks from the scene of the crimes.
“He was there every day, talking to the girl, every day. I think he sometimes brought her food,” confirmed Marisol, a hairdresser who works across the street. Gabriela Navarro, who runs another store near Reyna’s cellphone business, said she though Andrés was her father-in-law. “She’d been working here around two and a half years. We would greet one another, that’s all. On Friday she didn’t come in to work,” she said. Missing persons posters went up that same day.
On Monday, some residents got alarmed. “We saw the man lying on the ground, and the police. We approached, thinking that something had happened to him, until we realized that they’d hit him,” said a local named Gladys. El Chino, who was widely considered to be in very good health, was suddenly seen stumbling along while two police officers took him away.
The scene made many think back to the so-called “monsters of Ecatepec,” a couple who were arrested in 2018 for killing at least 10 women and keeping their body parts in freezers and buckets.
The trail of Rubicela Gallego leads to Tlalnepantla, around 20 kilometers from Atizapán. The landscape is similar, with hundreds of homes perched on a hillside, some painted in bright colors and others the tone of untreated concrete. Outside a home located at 14, Durazno street, a woman could be seen taking furniture out of a van. “Yes, she lived here with her husband, and her brother also lives in town, but I haven’t seen him for around 20 days,” she said.
The third suspected victim, Flor Nínive Vizcaíno, 38, once lived in the same city, on Atlacomulco Avenue, in the neighborhood of Los Tejabanes. But the woman who opened the white door said she knew nothing about it. “Maybe it’s the house across the street,” she shrugged. The thousands of women who go missing every year in Mexico are no longer news for anybody.