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The town of Lolol is located in the Colchagua Valley of Chile, just over 20 miles (or 34 kilometres) from Santa Cruz. It is peaceful place with the main industries being agriculture and tourism.
The town has just over 6,000 residents and most of the people work on local wineries and farms. It is a place that values traditional farming methods, proudly ensuring the purity of world-class Chilean wines.
The town of Lolol is a great tourist attraction and 4,300 tourists visit every year. It’s a great weekend spot for people from Santiago to the north and from Santa Cruz on the coast. The whole town is a National Monument, because of the typical colonial architecture, or Zona Tipica. The layout is a perfect example of the colonial period with a triangular plaza in the historic centre and tree-lined streets with rows of identical homes on either side of the main stretch. The town is located in a small valley, surrounded by hills. If one didn’t know any better, you’d think you were in Spain or Italy.
Lolol is a town where nothing much happens and that is how the people like it. Locals who live in the town or the surrounding areas, don’t want to leave. With great quality Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, who needs to be anywhere else?
But on the day of the 12th of July 2012, two murders so shocking and unbelievably macabre took place. An incident that shattered the peaceful image of the town forever. The media reported that, following the murders, the streets of Lolol were desolate, nobody dared to go outside. Town mayor, Marco Marín, said that the crime…
"…would mark a 'before' and an 'after' in the history of Lolol."
This is the story of Oscar Lopez Rodriguez and the terror he inflicted on a small town in Chile.
>> Intro Music
Oscar Lopez Rodriguez was born on the 1st of November 1972 in Lolol. When he was only 20, he married a local woman called Sandra Andrea Poblete Gaete. The couple had one son together.
In 1997 the 25-year-old Oscar left his family lived in Los Boldos near Santa Cruz. He started a new hobby, collecting antiques: old lamps, wooden cart wheels and iron gates. He cycled around, looking for all sorts of things that could possibly have any value, with the intention of restoring the items and selling it. He became more and more withdrawn and eventually moved away to Los Robles, a short distance from Lolol.
During this time, he lived in an ecological community of about 15 people. Members of the community kept to themselves and reject traditional society and societal norms. It was a Christian-based religious group that is dedicated to living off the land, only eating food they produce themselves. They didn’t send their kids to school and shut themselves off from the outside world. People outside of the community do not know exactly what happened behind the locked gates.
It was believed that Oscar was expelled from the community because of behavioural issues. But according to him, he decided to leave after the earthquake of February 27th, 2010. He moved into Lolol town. He had been living in a room in an old ‘adobe houses’, made of mud and straw mixed together to dried to make a strong brick-like material. Oscar was not one for paying rent, so he moved around quite a bit.
Although they had been separated for a while, Oscar and Sandra’s divorce was only finalised in April 2011. It was a fresh start for him, and he had plans to explore his passion for antiques and open a store.
He found a home at 145 Los Alerces Avenue, across the road from the Lolol Fire Station.
The antiques store was located in the front and Oscar lived in the back. Well, antiques in a loose sense of the word, as it was somewhat of a junk store where all kinds of odds and ends could be found. Some restored iron gates or grids, renovated furniture, old lamps… It was not really a refined, catalogue type of shop, but rather a glorified scrap yard.
His customers were mainly tourists who passed through the town. Well-to-do people were also aware of him as he was sometimes able to source some or other rare antique relic.
The residents of Lolol were curious to learn more about the new man in town. Everybody knew that Oscar had lived in the ecological community before and people were intrigued by him. He had long hair and a beard and neighbours referred to him as ‘El Hippie’. When a neighbour’s daughter fell ill, he recommended a remedy, made from local flowers.
He had a mystical air about him that intrigued people who met him. But before long, it surfaced that he was rather weird, an introvert with strange ideas. He saw himself as godly, in fact his long-haired look was inspired by Jesus.
Oscar was a loner who claimed to be the envoy of God. He claimed that he could converse with superior beings and with God. He would also mumble to himself while he was doing the rounds in Lolol, saying that he was going to kill people. He would always add that he was going to cut off his rival’s head after the dual and wear it to the cemetery as a hat.
"He is waiting for his head to be cut and thrown in a box."
…was another thing he would say if anyone upset him. Town’s people honestly thought he was a harmless eccentric, who had some mental health issues. Nobody took his ramblings seriously.
Because Oscar was relatively new to the region he did not have many friends and he had no known family living nearby either. He was an anti-social and eccentric man who seemed to spend all of his time with his dog.
One neighbour said that he was rather unfriendly.
"He did not greet anyone and when he approached someone looked down. He had a bad temper and aggressive behaviour. We never knew if he had family because nobody visited him, only the clients who came to buy antiques and the goats that pitted him.”
By dressing up like anime characters when he went about his business in town, he drew a lot of attention to himself. He had sticks that he waved around like they were samurai swords. People stood back as he fought and invisible enemy and made sure they did not end up in the crossfire.
The newspaper, El Mundo Rural, visited the area in April 2012, and used Oscar in their feature about Lolol. He was described as a…
"…modest man, who has worked hard in the countryside with a shovel and the plow," but "[his life] is devoted to visiting houses and rescuing antiquities which he repairs and sells to wealthy families."
The article also pointed out his ability to ride his bike with his dog Valentín standing on it. It was a tandem bicycle, and the dog stood on the seat with its hindlegs while its front legs rested on the handlebars.
In the same interview with El Mundo Rural, he said:
“My dog is a self-regulator in balance. This he learned from the last earthquake, because when he saw me leave so desperately from my house on the bike. He climbed on the grill to accompany me and he keeps that custom up to this day.”
Oscar idolised his dog and told everyone that Valentín was going to save humanity – he was the next Messiah. Because of his outrageous stories and strange behaviour, ‘El Hippie’ became ‘El Loquito’ or ‘The Crazy One’. There are a couple of stories about Oscar that made an impression on the people of Lolol.
On one occasion, he visited the town’s municipal offices and applied for the exclusive use of a road. It was a stretch of road just outside of town, on the way to Santa Cruz. When he was asked why, he told them he planned on having a duel with his enemy. The enemy was a local man he did not get on with. Oscar handled the whole situation like he was a cowboy, living in the wild west, and officials weren’t sure how to handle his request. When his request was denied, he was outraged. He said that nothing would stop the duel from happening and once it was done, he would take the head off his rival and wear it to the cemetery as a hat.
Neighbours told police that he would sell marijuana to young people from the area. They were always hanging around his place. There were theories that the ecological commune grew and supplied the marijuana, then sent it to Oscar to sell. This has never been confirmed.
He was also seen on many occasions, doing samurai moves in his back courtyard and neighbours felt that he had the tendency to be violent. He loved with the Quentin Tarantino movie Kill Bill, particularly the use of knives in the film. He became obsessed with anything that had a blade: sabres, knives, swords, axes…
JUAN René DUARTE BECERRA (56)
Another man living in the area, was Juan René Duarte Becerra. He was born on the 7th of January 1956. Juan lived in Lolol his whole life and worked as a farmer. People in the region affectionately referred him as Don Juanito. Juan married his wife, María Adriana Rodríguez Espina and May 1976, and they lived a happy and peaceful life in the Colchagua Valley.
Juan was known as a good man who did not shy away from a hard day’s work.
He worked as a seasonal farmer at the Viña Casa Silva estate for 20 years. It is an exclusive wine estate with a restaurant and hotel on the farm, one of the main attractions for wine lovers who visit the area.
In the summer of 2012, Juan was on medical leave as he had had surgery to remove a hernia from his spine. On Tuesday afternoon of 10th of July, Juan told his housemaid that he was going to Oscar Lopez Rodriguez’s store to purchase an iron rod. He had also seen an old little table that he was thinking about buying.
Don Juanita’s wife was concerned when he had not returned home for dinner. She tried to call him, but his cell phone just rang and rang. She spent the whole night trying to find him, he was nowhere to be found. The day after his disappearance, she tried calling his cell phone for the umpteenth time. This time it rang, somebody silenced it after a couple of rings. The following day, July 11th, Juan’s family filed a missing person’s report with Lolol police.
The next day, a 46-year-old woman called Maria José Reyes, who was travelling in the Lolol area with two of her four children, stopped off in the picturesque little town. Maria was born on the 26th of June, 1966 and lived and worked in Santiago.
She worked as a physical education teacher for 15 years before she resigned to spend more time with her family. She was married to Wenseslao Fernando Montero Sánchez in 1989 and the couple had four children. Her family affectionately called her Coté.
Maria was known to be a special teacher who made a point of it to give personalised attention to all of her students. One of her students said:
"She was a great woman, an excellent teacher, one of those who treat you like a mother… after meeting her, I will never forget her."
Although Maria didn’t work full time anymore, she started working at Colegio El Golf in Vicatura where she created a class called La Academia or ‘The Academy’. It ran a workshop for high-school graduates with special needs to prepare them for employment.
A friend recommended the antiques shop in Lolol, when she heard Maria was remodelling her home. On Thursday afternoon, the 12th of July, Maria drove with two of her children to the Moore family farm in the Bucarruca area, where they would spend their winter holiday break.
On the way, they planned to visit the antiques store in Lolol. The Colchagua Valley was only a two and a half hour drive south of Santiago and Maria’s husband and two other children were to follow in a second car. It was Maria’s idea that the family have their vacation in the region, as the climate was mild, and the stunning scenery made for an idyllic break from the hustle and bustle of the city. They also had family down there and it was familiar to them. When driving down, Maria would usually stop in Lolol to stock up for the vacation.
Her 19-year-old son, Lucas, was driving her van by the time they reached Lolol. He parked the van while Maria and her daughter went inside. After Lucas parked, he got out and locked the car. Only a couple of minutes before, he saw his mom and sister walk into the ramshackle store. He heard a couple of thumps and screaming and ran closer to see what was going on.
Inside the store, Oscar López Rodríguez was stabbing Maria with a knife in an unprovoked attack. While her children screamed and shouted at him to stop, he carried her body to the front veranda, where he dropped her on the floor. He had a large blade in his hands and raised it above his own head, samurai style, before he dropped it down in one dramatic swoop and beheaded Maria.
Lucas tried to defend his mother, but it was too late. He realised that Maria’s assailant would not stop the attack and together with his 15-year-old sister, they cleared away as quickly as they could.
Restaurant owner, Mario Bravo, whose restaurant was across the street from the antiques dealership, heard the screams of Maria’s children:
“They’re killing our mom! They’re killing our mom!”
Mario was only a couple of yards away and saw ‘El Loquito’ on the veranda. Oscar Lopez Rodriguez called out to the children to look at him as he grabbed Maria’s hair and picked up her head. He showed it to her children, raising it like a trophy.
Mario Bravo was mortified but managed to think on his feet. After making sure that the teens were safely inside his restaurant, he alerted authorities. Police officer, 26-year-old Felipe González was on duty and received a call-out to Los Alerces Avenue at 1:35pm. On the line was Maria’s 19-year-old son, Lucas, who told him that the shop-owner had killed his mother.
Soon extra reinforcements arrived at the address. Police entered through the courtyard and made their way to the scene, where Oscar was still standing over his decapitated victim.
When police arrived, he would not back down. They urged him to stop the attack and warned him that they would shoot if he did not back down.
He would not budge. He wielded his knifer and threatened the police officers, who then fired two warning shots. Undeterred, the crazed Oscar launched his attack. But before he could reach them, he was shot down.
"The man was crazy, beside himself, and I just defended myself."
Said Carabineros corporal Felipe González about the attack. By that time a crowd had formed outside of the store and it did not take the media long to catch on to the story.
When Juan Duarte’s family saw the live broadcast from outside Oscar Lopez Rodriguez’s store on television, they immediately called police and told them about Juan’s disappearance the day before. The last information they heard was that one of Oscar’s neighbours saw Don Juanito, talking to Oscar outside of the antiques shop the previous day.
It was a brazen and brutal attack. What shocked villagers most, was the fact that it took place at 1pm, one of the busiest times of the day in that part of Lolol. It was also payday and many people were around. Everyone always thought ‘El Loquito’ wasn’t ‘all there’, but they never thought he would ever resort to such horrific violence.
Forensic technicians processed the scene on the request of the prosecutor. That is when they found more than they had bargained for. The decapitated head of a second person was discovered, hidden in an old trunk that was for sale in the shop. The rest of the body was found outside in the courtyard, buried beneath a pile of rocks. The body was that of missing farmer, Juan Duarte. Defensive wounds showed that Don Juanito fought for his life in a vicious attack. Oscar stabbed him in the back, multiple times and then beheaded him.
The theory was that Maria José Reyes was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. As she was browsing through the store, she must have opened the trunk, saw Juan’s head, which triggered the sudden attack. However, her daughter did not remember Maria opening a trunk.
Searching the antiques store, police also found 20g of marijuana and then another stash of 400g.
Reports of the senseless murders made national news and Oscar Lopez Rodriguez was dubbed: The Monster of Lolol.
After the two murders and the death of Oscar Rodriguez, missing persons reports were filed for two local people. Both had had a connection with Oscar in the past and their families were concerned that they had suffered the same fate. One of the confrontations even led to a brawl that had to be broken up by police. This happened five months before the deaths of Juan and Maria.
Manuel Fuenzalida Piña, went missing in March 2012. He was last seen when neighbours on Los Alerces Avenue saw him talking to Oscar. However, no other remains were found inside of Oscar’s house. Cadaver dogs searched the property, looking for more victims, but could not find anything. They searched an area of 5000 square metres. On this land were also a couple of wells, so police divers were brought in to investigate, but they did not find anything.
Police wondered how many more people would come forward. In an effort to follow up on the missing persons cases, they identified an area of about 10 miles (or 15 kilometres) from the site of the incident, where Oscar lived about four years before the murders. GOPE (Chilean Police Special Operations), specifically investigated the area around a big wheel that was lying in a field, but again, there was nothing. Police went to all the houses in which Oscar had lived in the area and confirmed that there were no other victims.
Because corporal Felipe González killed Oscar Lopez Rodriguez on the day of the attacks, there was an investigation to see whether his actions were warranted. Before his hearing, he said:
"I'm calm, because I have the support of my command and of General Alejandro Contreras. Also because I acted in accordance with the law.”
It was concluded that he acted within the stipulated norms and no case was brought against him. But the damage was done and the trauma if the events of that day, haunts the young officer to this day.
Dr Luis Risco, specialising psychiatrist at the Clinical Hospital of Chile believes that Oscar’s could be a case of chronic schizophrenia or a delusional disorder. The fact that he dressed up like an anime characters in public could be a sign of this. He particularly like to dress up like Goku, of the Dragon Ball Series, using to sticks strapped in a cross onto his back, to serve as his ‘swords’. In the series, Goku is a might warrior who protects the planet against anyone seeking to destroy it.
The prosecutor ordered a "psychological autopsy". At the time, no one had heard of such a procedure. It was a new jargon to law enforcement in Chile. What it meant was that they were looking for evidence of the perpetrator’s mental state at the time of the crime. Where a physical autopsy would test for signs to the body, a psychological autopsy tested for signs of the mind. The purpose of this was to confirm that the killer acted alone and to determine what his motive could have been.
To psychologists, this was not a new notion. It has been done for years at the request of the prosecutors in charge of the cases, usually to determine if the death of a person was caused by suicide or by the action of third parties. The only difference was: now the procedure was called a ‘psychological autopsy’.
Dr Risco explained how they would go about to gather the psychological evidence:
"It is a procedure that is carried out with the testimonies of the family and people who usually surrounded the perpetrator. This way, we arrive at a diagnosis as accurate as possible of what led this person to act the way he did.”
The doctor also, in his opinion, adds that…
"…the use of drugs is investigated, for example. Things that have de-calibrated the mentality of the person. If there was a fight or conflict in the last days."
In the case of Oscar Lopez Rodriguez, Dr Ricso concluded:
"I think it was not [drug use], but a problem of chronic psychosis that was left untreated."
The results of the ‘psychological autopsy’ were made public two weeks after the murders and pointed out that Oscar López Rodríguez suffered of transient psychosis, mystical delusions and bizarre behaviours. Dr Risco added that, on more than one occasion, Oscar was…
"…already out of reality, he was listening to orders, as if he had to save humanity.”
Renowned Chilean psychologist, Alex Droppelmann commented about violence as a cause of a psychotic break:
“The first thing to do is to look for bizarre behaviours, behaviours outside of the social context in which they live. When a guy walks around like a pirate and lives as such, it is a behaviour outside of the space where he finds himself. The second question has to do with regard to delirium, like saying things that are not related to reality. If the text of a delirium is far from the context of reality, it should make us think that we are facing a case of a psychotic break that should be addressed…30% of psychotics can be paranoid, 10% of paranoid psychotics could attack and 3% could kill.”
Droppelmann based his statement on studies conducted in the United States and Germany.
The only time his strange behaviour ever got onto police radar was when he hit people with a stick, after putting on a ‘samurai-esque’ movement display at a town fair.
Shortly before this incident, Oscar told his friend, Ignacio Romero:
"God sent me to kill someone from time to time. God ordered me to become a shaman."
Oscar swore to his friend that he talked to God every three days. Ignacio did not take him seriously and thought Oscar was talking nonsense because he had had too much weed.
His obsession with sticks, that he pretended were swords, was common knowledge to everyone who knew him. His daily routine went something like this: he got up at 6am and do his morning exercise. The routine included lifting a 220lbs (or 100kg) oak trunk and using a straw sack a neighbour had given him as a punching bag.
In hindsight, investigators wondered if the murders were planned. As messenger to the Messiah, which Oscar professed he was, did he believe he had to kill? Perhaps his morning regime was preparation for an execution and not merely a daily fitness workout.
On the Thursday morning of Maria’s murder, a neighbour saw him carving roots he had collected. He used a knife with swift precision. Coming from the ecological community, he often used plants and their roots for medicinal purposes.
Oscar Lopez did not have a concerning criminal background. He had only two charges against him: one for theft and another one for the fight he was involved in in February 2012, five months before his death. The theft was probably committed as he was collecting things to restore and sell. Whether he intended to steal the item or not, is unclear.
The sad thing is: Oscar Lopez Rodriguez was a loner. People avoided him because he was strange and behaved in an unconventional way. If he had a network of friends, perhaps someone would have encouraged him to get help. Who knows?
None of the hospitals of Lolol or Santa Cruz had any records of Oscar ever receiving mental help or treatment.
Even though the psychological autopsy provided some explanation for Oscar’s action, it did not undo the damage that was done. Two lives were lost, and their loved ones were facing life without them.
The body of Juan Duarte was mourned at his mother's home in Lolol on the 13th of July 2012 – a day after the discovery of his remains. During the early morning of the following day, and after an evangelical prayer, his body was buried in the Municipal Cemetery of Lolol. The funeral was attended by hundreds of Lolol residents.
Also on the morning of the 13th of July, relatives of María José Reyes arrived at the Legal Medical Service of San Fernando where the autopsy was performed. They escorted her remains back to her hometown of Santiago. The next day, more than 500 people attended the funeral of this beloved member of the community.
Maria’s husband was touched to see so many people at her funeral. In his eulogy, he remembered the “wonderful 24 years” together. Their daughter, Josefina also spoke and said that her mom was “the best in the world”.
Back in the Colchagua Valley, Lolol locals were unsettled by the thought that they had been to Oscar’s store and it could very easily have been them who ended up murdered. Some residents called for Oscar’s house to be demolished, to wipe away the reminder of the crime.
The Colchagua Valley is known for its superstition and legends. Myths passed down from one generation to the next include stories of witchcraft and pacts with the devil. People wondered about the time Oscar spent living with the community in the hills… Was there a chance that they were a cult? Did they influence Oscar to kill people as human sacrifice? The diabolical crime ruffled feathers in the community and a deep fear overcame the people: what if the devil wanted more?
Rumours went around, saying that Oscar was involved in Black Magic. made the town fear that there was a bad spell
The night after his death, Oscar’s was claimed from the Medical Service by his son. His body was waked at his parents' home in Los Boldos, near Santa Cruz, and was buried the following day in the Cemetery of Santa Cruz, in a ceremony attended by about a hundred people. His former wife, Sandra, did not attend his funeral.
Oscar’s family were mortified that he could have committed such a violent crime. They publicly apologised to the families of Juan Duarte and Maria José Reyes. His nephew, Francisco Lopez made a statement, moments before Oscar Lopez was laid to rest.
“We sincerely apologise to the other families, at no time would you have wanted this.”
A week after the murders, during a nationally televised interview, Oscar’s son was also of the opinion that the ecological community in the Los Boldos hills had something to do with the incidents. He said that his father changed after joining the community. It was where Oscar’s downfall began.
He also wondered if Oscar acted alone in the murder of Juan Duarte. His theory was that someone else might have killed Juan and when Maria saw the evidence, Oscar lost his mind and killed her. Although young people from Lolol visited Oscar’s home at night to buy weed, nobody saw anyone else hanging around the store on the day Don Juanito disappeared.
In a tragic story of loss, Oscar’s family was mourning the death of someone they loved too. Their grief was riddled with guilt and regret, upset that they never realised how unwell Oscar was towards the end.
Oscar’s family cleared up most of the junk spilling out onto the front veranda of the home, but they left his beloved dog, Valentín behind. In the week after the horrendous murders, neighbours were haunted by the sound of Oscar’s dog howling at night, the sound echoing through the empty streets of Lolol.
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