“Because they cried”
Colombia-born Daniel Camargo Barbosa’s first offence occurred on 10 April 1964 when he learned that the woman he was in love with was not a virgin, so he raped her. Jailed, Camargo decided that any of his future victims would not live to tell their tale.
On 3 May 1974 Camargo was arrested at Barranquilla, Colombia as he tried to bury the body of a nine-year-old girl he had raped and murdered. He was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to 25 on appeal. He was sent to the prison on the volcanic island of Gorgona on 24 December 1977. No one had ever escaped from the island until Camargo did, in a canoe in November 1984. The press reported that sharks had eaten Camargo but, unfortunately, he had lived and appeared in Ecuador, where he began a new career of rape and murder.
He was nicknamed the Beast of The Andes and, when he was arrested, confessed to the murder of 71 girls. In the port of Guayaquil, 55 young girls disappeared in the space of just 14 months. When the bodies of many victims were found, they had been brutalized with a blunt instrument and a machete.
Sweet-wrappers were found at three of the murder scenes and police guessed that the killer was luring the children with sweets. In June 1988 the corpse of 12-year-old Gloria Andino was found on the edge of a mangrove swamp. Examination of the body led to the discovery of a sweet-wrapper in her hand. On the wrapper was a smudged fingerprint, which was identified as belonging to Camargo. A short time afterwards, a motorcycle policeman arrested a man behaving suspiciously in the vicinity of where Gloria Andino had lived. The man turned out to be Camargo and in his pocket was a picture of one of the missing girls.
Camargo admitted to the killings and took the police to the graves of his last victims. He told police that he had indeed lured the children with sweets and pens and chose children, as he wanted virgins “because they cried”.
He was tried in September 1989 and sentenced to 16 years in jail, the maximum under Ecuadorian law. It has been reported that on 13 November 1994 another prisoner, the cousin of one of his victims, murdered Camargo in jail although this has not been confirmed.