Pedro López is a serial killer, almost unheard of in the United States despite the fact that his enormous body count towers over the names we remember when talking about notorious killers. It is estimated that López killed over 300 people in South America before he was captured in 1980. The creepiest part of his story? López was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1998, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Like many serial killers, Pedro López had a horrific upbringing. López was born in 1948 in Colombia. His mother was a prostitute, and his father was shot and killed before López was born. When he was only eight years old, López's mother caught him molesting one of his sisters, and he was kicked out of the house. He ran away and lived on the streets of Bogota.
López's life was forever altered when, still just a child, he was raped in an abandoned house. He was taken in by an American couple that discovered him living on the street, but even in those improved circumstances, he was taken advantage of by an adult, this time at school. So the boy ran away again. Later in life, López would recall that it was these early abusive experiences that made him seek violent revenge on innocent people.
López committed his first murder not on the street, but in prison. While serving a jail term for car theft, López was gang-raped by a group of men. He responded by killing the men one-by-one with a homemade knife while still behind bars. This first taste of blood set López's fanatical obsession with murder into motion.
After his release from prison, López started to murder young girls in Peru. He would lure girls to remote areas, then rape and murder them. After committing dozens of murders in Peru, López was captured by members of a local indigenous community as he attempted to kidnap a nine-year-old girl.
The natives were furious at López and sentenced him to be buried alive. A missionary intervened in López's execution, and the tribesmen were convinced to hand the killer over to Peruvian police. López, his life spared, was quickly deported to his native Colombia.
López continued to murder; when he made his way to Ecuador, dozens of young girls disappeared. As in Peru, López was eventually apprehended by citizens when he attempted to kidnap a young girl. By 1980, he was finally in the hands of the police. Though the authorities had him in custody, they didn’t know the extent of his crimes: López simply refused to cooperate.
To solve the problem, a pastor went undercover, posing as an inmate. Detective Pastor Gonzales gained López's trust, and eventually the killer confessed where many of his victims were buried. López admitted that he killed three girls a week, saying: “I like the girls in Ecuador, they are more gentle and trusting, more innocent.” Authorities did not believe many of López's claims at first, but when a flash flood unearthed dozens of bodies, they quickly changed their minds.
López admitted to over 300 murders in various countries. He was charged with 110 murders in Ecuador, and in 1981 he was sentenced to 16 years in prison, the maximum sentence in the country at the time.
Related: 10 Fascinating Facts About Crime
After serving 14 years of his sentence in Ecuador, López was released and deported to his native Colombia in August 1994. Once there, he was declared insane and sent to a mental institution. In 1998, López was declared sane and was released for good behavior on only $50 bail. He promptly vanished, and today no one knows where the Monster of the Andes might be.
This story was first published on did you know?