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Investigate: Is This Jacqueline Bernard’s Killer?

Ricardo Caputo is a serial killer and Bernard's former lover. And her best friend, investigative journalist Linda Wolfe, is convinced he did it.


Jacqueline Bernard was found strangled in her apartment in 1983. But before the 62-year-old was killed, her suspected killer—Ricardo Caputo—had murdered at least four other women.

On the run for more than 20 years, Caputo turned himself into police in 1994; but, unfortunately for Jacqui Bernard’s friends and family, was never charged for her murder.

Unlike the other victims, though, Jacqui’s team had a secret weapon: Her best friend, true crime journalist Linda Wolfe—who maintains that Caputo is the killer.

Determined to bring Caputo to justice, Wolfe embarked on a full-scale investigation of his crimes, learning the gruesome details about the women he seduced, tortured, and murdered in cold blood—including Laura Gomez in Mexico City.

Wolfe’s search for the truth is detailed in her personal true crime account, Love Me to Death: A Journalist’s Memoir of the Hunt for Her Friend’s Killer. The author’s chilling look at each of Caputo’s victims brings us a little closer to the truth about Jacqui.

Read on for an excerpt and then download the book on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.


jacqueline bernard love me to death

Why would so attractive and worldly a woman become involved with a Ricardo Caputo? Ricardo would explain it by saying that despite her beauty, wealth, and sophistication, Laura held herself in low esteem and feared that her parents preferred her sister. “In this, we were like twins,” Ricardo would say.

But back to the police reports: they revealed that Laura was, like so many of Ricardo’s victims, a nurturer, a giver. Soon after she met Ricardo, who was working at the time at his Time-Life job, he mentioned to her that he had higher ambitions than to be a mere book salesman, but that as a foreigner he was having trouble getting better work; Laura used her influence to win him a higher-paying position at a Mexican subsidiary of the Atlas steel company. And around that time, they became lovers.

Laura never told her parents that she and Ricardo had a sexual relationship. Nor did she ever introduce him to them. But they knew she was dating him and, or so they told the police, they weren’t particularly worried about it. Their reason was that their home was full of housemaids who reported to them whenever this new friend of Laura’s came to visit and said he and Laura always sat properly in the living room, looking at and talking about drawings he had penciled.

He was a friend from school, her parents told the police they had assumed. She had many of those, but no doubt she particularly liked this new young man because, like her, he was artistic.

But there was, of course, far more to Laura’s relationship with Ricardo than a homebound mutual appreciation of art. Laura was seeing Ricardo outside the parental nest, was sleeping with him in the apartment he had once shared with Maria. And although Laura’s parents would eventually say they were ignorant of the fact, Laura, like Natalie and Judith before her, became pregnant.

On a Friday afternoon in September 1977, she mentioned casually to her parents that her friend Ricardo had invited her to attend a karate exhibition in the evening and asked their permission to join him. They themselves were going out to a conference and dinner that night, and they agreeably said yes.

Laura spent the afternoon at home, then toward evening got dressed. She put on a skirt, a white blouse with a mandarin collar, and a gold ring studded with three diamonds. Ricardo arrived for her in a taxi around 8:00 P.M. Her parents had already left, but the housekeeper answered the doorbell. Laura, bidding the housekeeper good-bye, told her she and Ricardo were going directly to the exhibition and got into the taxi.

That was the last time she was seen alive. She and Ricardo didn’t go to a karate exhibition but went instead to his apartment, and there he killed her.

I read the details with dismay. Ricardo ripped off Laura’s clothes, dragged her from room to room throughout the apartment, burned her body in several places with cigarettes, and beat her about the head and face with his fists. Then he picked up a steel bar and smashed it down on her skull no fewer than 10 times, bashing in her forehead and jaw so that her teeth went rocketing from their cradle of bone. The disbursement of her teeth had prompted the Mexican press to report initially that before Ricardo killed Gomez, he had tortured her, pulled her teeth. Gordon McEwan had read those first accounts, which was why he’d told me about the teeth. But the Mexican police report suggested that Ricardo hadn’t pulled them out, just knocked them out.

jacqueline bernard ricardo caputo victims

Ricardo Caputo’s Victims (counter clockwise from top left) Nathalie Brown, Judith Becker, Barbara Ann Taylor, and Laura Gomez. Photo Via Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

It makes little difference. Just as I had imagined when McEwan told me about Laura’s death, those teeth, little pearls encrusted with blood, lay scattered across the floor.

Reading, I wished the reports said less about Laura’s destruction and more about her relationship with Ricardo. Had she, like Natalie, Judith, and Barbara, become disillusioned with her handsome lover? Had she, like them, been planning to break up with him? Had she hidden from him the fact that she was pregnant, as Judith had done? Had she told him she was pregnant, as Natalie had done and later denied? Or had she perhaps told him she was pregnant but said that the father was someone else, thereby arousing Ricardo’s jealous fury?

There was no information that could help me answer those questions. But something indicated a surprising similarity between Ricardo’s movements on the day he killed Laura Gomez and his movements on the day he killed Judith Becker. The similarity was that, just as he had closed down his bank account before murdering Judith, he had taken out some loans immediately before murdering Laura.

To me, that information suggested that Ricardo was getting ready to leave town, just as he had before murdering Judith, and that on the eve of his departure he had asked Laura, just as he appears to have asked Judith, for something she hadn’t wanted to grant him, a refusal that triggered his rage. As with Judith, I surmised, it could have been something material. But what? One of her cars? Her diamond ring? And then, buried in the Mexican police reports, I saw a little statement about that ring. It was missing when they found her body. The only thing on or in her hands were ripped-out clumps of Ricardo’s hair.

He had made no effort to disentangle them from her fingers. Nor had he attempted to retrieve his possessions from the apartment. He had simply cleared out and, once again, totally and effectively vanished.

Want to keep reading? Download Love Me To Death on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

Feature Photo of Ricardo Caputo Via Criminalia