Transcript: 58. The Playing Card Killer | Spain

(El Assesino de Baraja)


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Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 


The bus driver was making his way along his usual early morning route just after 4am. He loved the early morning in Madrid, the roads were quiet and there is an interesting mix of passengers: early risers, people going home after working the night shift, the odd party-goer who heads home to sleep off a big night…


When he came to Alameda de Osuna, he saw a young man waiting on the bench inside the shelter of the bus stop. He was wearing a janitor’s uniform and it looked like he had fallen asleep. The bus pulled up next to the kerb, the doors opened and the bus puffed a sigh. The bus driver called for the man, but he didn’t respond.


The driver had sympathy for this guy, if he was that tired, he needed to get home and into bed. Besides, it was rather cold out as it was February and he must have been freezing. The driver turned off the ignition. He got out of the bus and walked over to wake the young man up. He gently touched his shoulder and said: 


“You’ll miss the bus.” 


The lifeless body fell onto the sidewalk, blood gushing from a wound in his head. He had been shot, and he was no longer alive. The bus driver looked around, but there was nobody about, the street was quiet.


Then he saw something strange… Between the dead man’s feet, lay a playing card, from a deck of Spanish Barajas. It was the Ace of cups.


Police arrived at the scene and were baffled about what they found. The man had been in the head, but as there was no blood splatter and from where he was sitting, they expected the bullet would have shattered the glass of the bus stop. There was also no gunpowder residue found anywhere near his body. 


And what about the playing card? There was a strong wind in the day, could the card be unrelated? Did it blow to the scene and stopped at the man’s feet? Or was it placed to make a point? Was the victim perhaps a gambler who owed money? Had his debtors run out of patience? Was it a message to other gamblers? 


What police did not know, was that the killer had struck before – and he had no intention of stopping. This bizarre crime scene started an investigation into the serial killer that would become known as ‘The Playing Card Killer’.


>>Intro Music


Alfredo Galán Sotillo was born in Puertollano, Castile-La Mancha, not far from Madrid, Spain on the 5th of April 1978. He was one of five children. 


At school he was known to keep to himself and he blended into the background. He didn’t speak much and did not have many friends. Because he was so withdrawn, his mother was very concerned about him and called the teachers to ask if there was anything she could do to encourage him. She was the only one who really understood him and knew that, with some help, he would be okay.


Alfredo was 10 when his mother passed away, an incident that broke him. Because she always had his back, as a loving and supportive mother, he suddenly felt lost and even more alone in the world. His father was left to raise the five kids alone, a tough task for someone who was always working to make ends meet. 


Alfredo was not really a good student and he started drinking as a young teen. Alcohol gave him confidence and he liked the fact that it numbed his pain somewhat. Coping with his grief and social awkwardness, he started acting out by becoming the class clown. For the first time, other students took notice of him, the laughed at his jokes and silly pranks, he was finally someone. Funny guy Alfredo rose through the school ranks of popularity and eventually even became class president.


It was evident that he had trouble communicating as a teenager, but he did not have any guidance or assistance to help him overcome him issues. He was very aware of this and always felt like he fell short. Because of his behavioural issues and the fact that he always hid his real emotions behind jokes, it was hard to tell if he was up to scratch intellectually or not. 


After high school, in 1998, he did not have too many prospects. The only thing that excited him was to join the army. In Spain, military service was not compulsory anymore, but he chose to go, and felt that he could carve out a decent career for himself. He was grouped into the Parachute Regiment of Alcalá de Henares. He loved the army, because with it, came a sense of power. He was a man in a uniform, someone who demanded respect.

 

In the late 90s the war in Bosnia had come to an end, but the country had been torn apart and the UN went in on a humanitarian mission to assist the people in restoring the peace. Spain sent their soldiers to assist in the effort. Among them was the inexperienced corporal from Puertollano, Alfredo Galán.


When the Spanish troops arrived in the town of Mostar, the conflict between the Serbs and the Croats was far from over. Many civilians were killed in ongoing attacks. As peacekeepers, the Spanish troops were not supposed to get involved in the conflict, they did not even have weapons to defend themselves. Their main job was to protect refugees and help them to have a safe passage. Some units were tasked with digging up mass graves, others had to assist in rebuilding towns or villages. What UN troops witnessed was the aftermath of years and years of war and ongoing suffering. It was quite overwhelming and the job to restore the country felt like something they would never achieve, as tensions were still rife. In Bosnia, Galán told fellow soldiers he was quite desperate to feel what it felt like to kill someone. They all knew how he felt, being under attack without being able to fire back… Buy most of them only felt like killing someone in a hypothetical sense.


After a second tour in Bosnia, Alfredo Galán returned to Spain. He was due a period of leave to recuperate, but could not take it, as he was needed in Galicia. An oil tanker, MV Prestige, carrying 77,000 tonnes of heavy oil sank off the northwest coast of Spain in November 2002. Galán spent three weeks at the Galician coast to clean up the pollution, working side-by-side with civilian volunteers. Galán was not happy about this. Doing environmental work was not what he had signed up for in joining the army. Bosnia was hectic, but at least there was some action. Cleaning beaches felt like a total waste of time.


When Galán returned home after the Galician clean-up in December, his behaviour had changed and there were signs that all was not well with him. He spent most of his time at his family home, sitting on the sofa and watching TV, brooding and mulling things over. He was more withdrawn than usual, but his siblings did not realise how bad it was. After all, he HAD been to a war zone, so he probably had a lot to process, perhaps they wanted to give him some space. During this time, he also started drinking more than usual. His sister Maria remembered:


“He became weird, maybe because of what he had seen there. He avoided people, we asked him what was wrong, but he refused to talk, he said he did not want to talk to anybody, he only watched violent videos, and dark documentaries on TV and walked the dog, but he did not talk to anyone.”


On Christmas Eve of 2002 he drank heavily and became aggressive towards his brother, José Manuel. He wielded a handgun as he was shouting profanities. When he saw the shocked look on his brother’s face, he calmed down somewhat and said: 


“Don’t worry, it doesn’t work.” 


…referring to the gun, that is. His brother did not appreciate the outburst, but the family attributed the sudden aggressive behaviour to Galán’s excessive drinking. But there was more to it. What they didn’t know, was that Galán had become obsessed with the idea of killing someone. Since he confided to fellow soldiers, he could not stop thinking about it. 


The gun he turned on his brother on Christmas Eve, was bought in a bar in Bosnia for 400 Euro and Galán smuggled it into Spain by hiding it inside a television set. He used military mail to send it home and it was not detected. Galán brought the bullets into Spain in his backpack when he returned from military duty. 


In early January, Galán had an argument with an older lady and took her car for a ride, essentially stealing it. In the anger of the moment, he punched a window of the car, smashing it. This incident got him into serious trouble with his superiors. That was no way to behave while you were a member of the army. Galán tried to explain his way out of it and told them that the outburst had happened because he was experiencing a lot of stress. 


His superiors realised that it could be signs of PTSD and sent him to the Gómez Ulla Military Hospital in Madrid. He was furious and gave his superiors a piece of his mind. His commanding officers gave him no other choice: get help, or get out. He relented begrudgingly and booked himself in.


Galán was diagnosed with neurosis and anxiety and doctors prescribed him anti-depressants. He only spent one day in hospital as he was adamant that he wanted to go home. Doctors agreed that he could be discharged, providing his family took care of him and made sure that he took his meds regularly. 


Galán was told NOT to consume any alcohol while he was on his medication, but he ignored the doctor’s advice and continued drinking, angrily, excessively. He knew, that after the confrontation with his superiors about his mental health, his days in the military were numbered. He had to make plans for his future and he began looking for work. As he had predicted, the army terminated his contract he was dismissed from duties. The official reason for his dismissal was ‘due to medical reasons’. He was a loose cannon and his superiors did not feel his mental state was sound enough to continue in the army.


Galán did not take his dismissal well at all. He felt like a failure. The army was all he ever knew, the only way he thought that he could make a success of his life, and he would never be able to go back again. He was angry, because he honestly felt he deserved a second chance. 


After Galán left the army, he applied to the police force. Although he passed the psychological test, he failed the physical and was not able to join the force. Alfredo Galán felt rejected yet again, hating everyone and anyone. He spent his time alone, drinking and fantasising about killing someone. It was only a matter of time until the fantasy would not be enough anymore. 


On Friday the 24th of January, he went out looking for a victim, it could have been anyone. He almost killed the post lady, but was interrupted before he could get to her. He remained on Alonso Cano Street, observing how people came in and out of buildings. He blended in as a normal pedestrian. It was January, so it was cool and wearing a jacket and gloves were normal. He also wore sunglasses, not uncommon on a bright Madrid winter’s day either. Nobody took any special notice of him as he was casing the area. After a while, he found the perfect victim: 50-year-old Juan Francisco Ledesma, a doorman working at no 89. 


Galán made himself seen at the door and after a short, pleasant exchange with Juan Francisco, in broad daylight, shot the doorman, in the head in front of his 2-year-old daughter. His wife discovered the body 45 minutes later. The toddler was in her high chair, as her father was feeding her when Galán knocked at the door. She told her mom:


“Dad fell and he doesn’t want to get up.” 


Police were baffled as the crime scene did not have many clues. Witnesses were able to provide vague descriptions of a man who was loitering outside the building, but he did not seem suspicious.


Galán was not even close to being on investigators’ radar. He did not have a criminal record and there was no links between him and his victim. The only person in the whole world who knew what had happened to Juan Francisco Ledesma, was Alfredo Galán – and it gave him an invigorating feeling of power. Still, the act of killing was rather mundane and he felt he had to do it again to see if the next time, he could feel more. He fought the urge to kill, but in the end, he wanted it too badly and went out on the prowl again.


In the pre-dawn hours of February 5th, 28-year-old airport cleaner Juan Carlos Martín Estacio had just left work after working a night shift and was heading home. He walked to the Almeda de Osuna bus stop and waited, when a man appeared out of the shadows. Juan Carlos was made to kneel and beg for his life, before he was shot in the back of the head. Galán dragged his body up onto the bench and disappeared into the darkness. Moments later, the bus pulled up and the driver discovered Juan Carlos’ body. 


Again, the crime scene made no sense to investigators. The only strange clue was a playing card, the Ace of cups, that was placed at the victim’s feet. Spanish Playing Cards (or Barajas Española) is not the same as your average deck of cards. It has 40 cards with four distinct suits: swords, clubs, coins and cups. It is used it for games, but also to read someone’s future, like Tarot cards. Was this card, the killer’s calling card?


At this point, police did not think the murders of Juan Francisco Ledesma and Juan Carlos Martín Estacio were related. Homicide detectives hardly had time to finish processing the crime scene at the bus stop, when, twelve hours after the murder of Juan Carlos, they were notified of another shooting. 


At 4:40 in the afternoon, Galán entered Rojas bar in Alcalá de Henares and opened fire. At close range, he shot and killed 18-year old waiter, Mikel Jiménez Sánchez in the head. Then he turned to 57-year-old Juana Dolores Ucles López who lived close-by, and had come to the bar to use the phone. Galán aimed straight at her and pulled the trigger another time. Juana was shot through her right eye and died at the scene. 


The only other person in the bar was the owner, 38-year-old Teresa Sánchez García. Mikel was her son. She was reeling in shock, having seen her son shot in cold blood. She ran and tried to hide from the assailant in the storeroom at the back of the bar, but Galán followed her shot her once, then dragged her out to the bar. Without batting an eyelid, he shot her twice more and left her for dead. Fortunately, Teresa survived the attack.


Galán had made no attempt to disguise himself and Teresa was able to provide a detailed description to police. Investigators did not link the there was a link between the murder of Juan Carlos and the shooting at Rojas. The bar was a rampage killing, a seemingly unmotivated attack. Whereas the killing of Juan Carlos seemed to be personal. This conclusion was because of the playing card that was left at his feet. 


When the media heard about this detail in the case, they ran with it – headlines don’t get any better than that. Galán followed the news feverishly and suddenly felt alive again. Whether he left the card with Juan Carlos by accident or not, is not clear, but he decided that he would leave playing cards with all his victims going forward. He would not only be a serial killer, but a serial killer with a nickname. He would be infamous; gone were the days of being a non-descript student or soldier with mental health issues. Alfredo Galán had become a force to be reckoned with. 


Also, if he left a card at every crime scene, police would know that all the random killings were committed by one killer. In fact, he was somewhat incensed that they hadn’t figured it out yet.


But serial killing doesn’t pay the bills and Galán needed to find work. He decided to take a civilian job, but he still craved the recognition that came with wearing a uniform. He knew the only job that would make him happy was the kind of job where he could be in a position of authority. In March, he began working as a security guard at the Madrid Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport and rented an apartment nearby.


From appearances, it looked like Galán was piecing his life back together. He wasted no time in finding a job and he had enough drive to set himself up in a new home. He was still moody and withdrawn, but then, he had always been that way, since he was a little boy, so nobody in his life was overly concerned about him.


If Galán was not at work, he was at home alone, watching TV and drinking. He felt that his next murder had to be bigger, more of a statement. Just over a month after his previous murders, he decided to strike again. It was 2:30am on the morning of March 7th. He roamed the streets of Tres Cantos and found two Ecuadorians who stood talking to each other. He walked closer, pulled out his gun and shot 27-year-old Eduardo Salas in the face. Eduardo turned his face at the bullet went into his jaw, shattering it. The pain caused him to drop to the ground and his friend thought that he was dead.


Galán then turned to 29-year-old Anahid Castillo Ruperti and tried to shoot, but his gun jammed. Again, he did not wear a disguise and his victims saw him clearly. He looked at Anahid, who stood frozen with shock. Then he reached into his pocket and dropped a playing card: the two of cups. Then he ran off, into the night. Although he was seriously injured, Eduardo survived. 


At the scene in Tres Cantos, police found a projectile. After extensive ballistic testing, they were able to determine that it was fired from a Tokarev. During the 1950s the Soviet Union authorized a handful of countries to make the Tokarev TT-33. Each country made its own variation. The Yugoslav one is the Zastava M 57, which also has a calibre of 7.62 mm, but the magazine is nine bullets instead of eight. A Tokarev was a very rare gun in Spain and investigators knew that if they followed the origin of the gun, they would be able to find the killer.


They compared the bullet with evidence found in other murder cases, and for the first time in the investigation, they could link the murder cases of Juan Francisco, Juan Carlos, the Rojas bar and the Tres Cantos shootings together. All bullets were fired from the same gun, which strongly suggested that they were dealing with the same gunman. Police realised that they were dealing with a serial killer. 


Serial killers are not very common in Spain, in comparison to say, America or the UK, so police were careful to label their suspect as such. They did not want to cause mass hysteria in the city of Madrid. But they had no way of telling where he planned to strike next.


His next attack occurred on the 18th of March. Romanian husband and wife, Gheorgi and Diona Magda were making their way home after a strenuous day at work. As they were walking along a dirt track coming from the station at Arganda del Rey, Galán appeared behind them, as if from nowhere. First, he shot Gheorgi in the back of his head and he fell to the ground. Terrified, Diona turned around to face the killer. Realising that he was aiming at her, Dione dropped to the ground and held her arms up to protect herself. Galán shot her three times, until she was no longer conscious. He dropped two playing cards: the three and four of cups, then turned and walked away. Diona survived the attack, but passed away two days later in hospital.


The people of Madrid felt unsafe – there was a serial killer on the loose who left no clue as to what his next move was going to be. He chose his victims at random, which made it difficult for investigators to find a common thread. His killings seemed to happen only by chance and in different areas throughout Madrid. 


They set up a hotline for tips and received over 2000 calls. Every single call was useless. Some people called in because they wanted to take revenge on a neighbour, others thought they saw something, but it was on the wrong day. 


Investigators went back to the facts of each case to see if there were any clues that would expediate the arrest of the Playing Card Killer.


Firstly, the killer was obviously a good marksman. All the victims were shot at point blank range in the back of the head, in the nape or in the back. Doorman, Juan Francisco, was shot in the back of the head with the bullet ejecting from his right eye. Experts agreed that he must have been on his knees when he was shot, execution style, from behind.


Juan Carlos, the airport worker who was killed at the bus stop, had dirt on knees and investigators concluded that he too, was kneeling when he was shot. Sadly, in an administrative a fumble, officers okayed the clean-up of the scene at the bus stop before crime scene investigators had a chance to look for organic clues, such as footsteps.


Juan Carlos was known to be a hard worker who often went out of his way to help others. There was nothing that indicated that he had gambling debt or any enemies. At the time of his death, he had been working at Barajas airport for only two months.


In a strange similarity, nine years before his death, a cleaner called Carlos Moreno Fernández had his throat cut and his body was left at a bus stop in Manoteras. The investigation later revealed that his murder started as a game, and it went too far, it got out of control. Police could not ignore the possibility that Juan Carlos’ death was a copycat killing.


As soon as investigators were able to interview Galán’s surviving victims, they did so. They were able to establish that the killer was quite tall, between 5 ft 9 and 6ft 2 (that’s about 1.85 metres). He had a dark complexion and a trimmed beard and witnesses estimated him to be in his mid-twenties.


The survivor of the Rojos bar shooting, Teresa Sanchez, identified a suspect. She was interrogated twice and both times she identified the same man from a photo line-up. Police knew the man all too well. He was a military man who had done a couple of tours to Bosnia. He was also a known member of a local neo-Nazi group. Police were very excited and prioritised bringing in their prime suspect. But, as it turned out, he had a rock-solid alibi. On the day of the shooting at Rojas bar, he was in prison. There was no way that he could be at the bus stop or the bar on that day.


Although the man Teresa identified wasn’t their guy, police realised that his profile was exactly the same as the killer’s. Many Spanish troops who had been to Bosnia, lived in Madrid. The link to Bosnia could explain the Yugoslavian gun used in all the killings. Police were confused about Teresa’s eyewitness account and entertained the possibility that they were dealing with two killers who worked together, using the same gun. They may not have acted together at each crime, but perhaps they alternated.


Meanwhile Alfredo Galán appeared to be as unremarkable as ever. He kept up his work hours and lived a quiet life at home. He had no ties to any of the areas where he committed his murders, so he was almost invisible. People didn’t recognise him and because of his non-descript appearance, he didn’t stand out in a crowd.


After the deaths of the Romanian couple, the murders suddenly stopped. No more attacks with a Tokarev gun and no more playing cards… People in Madrid did not know if they were safe again or not.


In this time, Galán’s family were concerned about him and made him take his meds again. Once he was back on his meds, he did not kill again. He did keep a keen eye on the news, however. Composite drawings made from witness descriptions did not look like him at all and he wondered if they would ever catch up with him.


On the 3rd of July, 2003, four months after the last murders, Galán spent the day in Puertollano, with his brother Miguel Ángel, drinking beer all day. About three o'clock in the afternoon his brother left to run some errands. They agreed that his brother would pick him up later so they could rent a video for the evening.


When Miguel Ángel I returned, Alfredo was gone. His sister called and told him she had just spoken to their other brother, José Manuel who said that Galán had phoned him and told him that he was The Playing Card Killer and that he was going to turn himself in. That is when two police officers showed up at the home of Miguel Ángel and asked him to accompany them to the police station. They told him that his drunk brother was there making all sorts of claims. When Miguel Ángel arrived at the station Alfredo Galán was sitting in a chair and said: 


“Yes, it’s me, I’m the Playing Card Killer.”


Police found it hard to believe that Alfredo Galán could be the infamous serial killer. When asked why he decided to turn himself in, he said:


“I’m the Playing Card Killer – I am fed up with police inefficiency.”


Miguel Ángel refused to believe that his brother was a murderer. He explained that Galán had some mental health problems and that he had been drinking all day. Officers sent him away, thinking this man, with his slurred speech was nothing more than a babbling drunk with some issues. Also, they had nothing to do with the investigation, as none of the murders had occurred in their precinct. They found it out-of-place that the killer would choose to surrender at their station. To justify himself, he shouted as his brother led him out of the building:


"I have given myself up here, because that is where I was, in Puertollano." 


As soon as Galán sobered up he returned to the police station and insisted that he was the Playing Card Killer. When he gave details of each murder that only the killer and the police knew, they started listening.


His first confessions had many contradictions and police were not quite sure that he was the guy they’d been looking for. He later said that he did this, to prove to police that killing and getting away with murder was easy. It was all a game and he wanted to show them that he was smarter than them.


His interrogators asked him a simple question: why? Why did he kill innocent people on the streets of Madrid? He said:


“I wanted to experience the sensation that causes to end the life of a human being. I started with the doorman and when I didn't feel anything I kept killing.” 


He admitted that it was not originally his intention for playing cards to be his "signature". He only began leaving cards after it became a media scoop. 


When asked why he stopped the murders, he said it was getting too warm in summer. The leather gloves he used in the shootings were bothering him in the heat. He said that he was of the intention to start killing again the next winter, but that it wouldn’t be possible because he had turned himself in.


To convince police he was the killer, he was able to describe the positions of all of his victims, how he left them. He also said there was a blue dot, made by a ballpoint pen on the back of the playing cards he left at the crime scenes.


Puertollano police called the national police who were overseeing the investigation. When they were told that the man called Alfredo Galán knew about the small blue dot on the playing cards, they ordered Puertollano police to hold on to the suspect as they rushed over.

It was reported that in some of the murders, Galán had wished his victims good morning and ordered them to kneel before shooting them, execution style. “Good morning, kneel, boom, boom” Galán said during his confession. He said that he felt education and good manners were the two most important things in the world.


Police set out to verify his statement and find concrete, forensic evidence that would link him to the murders. He said that they wouldn’t find anything, as he got rid of all the evidence before he confessed. Under pressure, he admitted that he had discarded of the gun by throwing it into a trash can in Puertollano. Police searched Almódovar del Campo landfill for months but were not able to find it. 


They could also not find the newspaper clippings he claimed to have saved, not the deck of cards from which the playing cards were taken so he could leave them at the crime scenes. 


A shell casing matching the bullet fired at doorman Juan Francisco was found hidden in a vase in Galán’s sister’s home.


According to the officers who interrogated Alfredo Galán… 


"…his only concern has been to make it clear that he is responsible for all the murders, but in no case has he been sorry."


Two months after walking into the Puertollano police station, Galán retracted his confession and claimed that he was innocent after all. He said that he sold his gun to an acquaintance in January, a month before the first murder.


At the end of March, after all the murders, the acquaintance and another man in his thirties visited him. Both were neo-Nazi’s and they forced him to keep his mouth shut about the gun. They told Galán that the weapon still had his prints on, so if he went to police, they would deny having had anything to do with the murders and pin it all on Galán.


At the end of April, he met with the men again and that is when they revealed some details about the murders. That was how he knew what to say during his first confession. They held the gun to his head and ordered him to turn himself in and take all the blame.


At the end of May, they gave him a deadline: he had two months to turn himself in, or his sisters would pay the price. Also, they would hire someone for 5 or 6 thousand Euro to kill him.


The presiding judge threw the second confession out and said it would not be considered during his trial, as he believed it to be a fabrication of the truth. The Tokarev pistol was later discovered at his father’s home, so the story that he had sold the gun did not quite ring true.


Although he was shy, Alfredo Galán seemed to be a likeable person on the surface. Ironically, the fact that he had a rather unremarkable persona, made it more difficult for police to catch him. But one of the investigators admitted that up close, you could see his eyes were void of any emotion or empathy. 


Psychologists concluded that Galán killed for pleasure. He wanted to experience the feeling of taking someone’s life. He was an antisocial narcissist who had a blinding desire for notoriety. He acted like a predator in the way he chose, humiliated and killed his victims. Killing someone in Bosnia would not have made him infamous. It would go unnoticed in the atrocity of war. The murder would not by attributed to him personally.


He knew exactly what he was doing, his actions were pre-meditated and executed with presence of mind. It was ruled that he knew right from wrong and that he was good to stand trial. 


To classify Galán as a killer was quite tricky. His attacks were as erratic as his state of mind. 

There were ferocious attacks followed by calm intervals. Serial killers usually have a specific pattern, it also starts slowly then become more frequent as they become more confident. But Galán performed an assassination in the morning and a mass shooting in the afternoon. Then attacked a month later. Then the attacks stopped for four months. 


He was quite unique in that he was a hybrid serial killer-slash-rampage killer. Serial killers follow a pattern over an extended period, while spree killers commit a series of murders in a short amount of time without a cooling off period.


At his trial, surviving victims were able to identify him. But the identification process was far from perfect. Ecuadorian Eduardo Salas and bar owner Teresa Sanchez were both unsure, and could not pick him out of a photo line-up. Both later changed their minds, saying that it was Galán’s nose that gave him away – his distinctive ‘aquiline’ nose.


Anahid Castillo could not give a definitive description and only based her identification on his gaze. She said that she would recognise it anywhere. On a previous occasion, she said his gaze was like that of a shark. 


Alfredo Galán was sentenced to 142 years and three months in prison for killing six people and attempting to kill three more. He was also ordered to pay more than 600,000 Euros restitution to the families of his victims. 


When Galán’s father heard about his confession, he was so shocked that he had a heart attack and had to be rushed to hospital. He survived.


Before Anahid Castillo passed away from cancer, she asked her mother, Grace, to reach out to Galán and told him that she had forgiven him. When Grace reached out to Galán, he agreed to a meeting. Grace travelled to Spain from Ecuador to fulfil her daughter’s dying wish, but minutes before she was supposed to meet with Galán, he refused to see her. Even from behind bars Galán was trying to be in control. 


His senseless need to kill innocent people ruined so many lives. Throughout his life, all he wanted was to be recognised. Being kicked out of the army and not being accepted into the police force made him chose infamy above honour. But he was such an unremarkable person, that even though he committed his murders without hiding his identity, his victims could not even remember what he looked like. 


One police officer said: 


"We haven't caught him before because he was doing things in such a simple and silly way that he confused us." 


Even as a serial killer, he failed to measure up. He was not brave or clever, he was an unassuming man, on a power trip, who happened to own a gun. He sought out easy situations, where he could play God and the victims could not do much to defend themselves. 


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