No matter how many years humanity has to revise and perfect the idea, most criminal justice systems around this world are heavily flawed, to say the least. Innocent people go to jail while guilty ones run free, and that’s just the biggest problem with incarceration in general. There’s also the much-debated topic on how to properly sentence and punish criminals and whether or not executing the worst offenders for their crimes is truly “justice” in any sense of the word.
All of that said, the fact one of the most prolific serial killers in history, who claimed roughly 300 lives, strangling young girls throughout South America, only served little over a decade in prison should shock and disgust everyone who hears this fact. Pedro López, known the world over as “The Monster of the Andes,” spent a mere 14 years behind bars, barely a month for each innocent victim who fell at his hands. No, there wasn’t a jailbreak, stunning new evidence, or even an insanity plea he somehow worked his way out of—the system simply let him go after a short sentence and hoped for the best.
The more one reads and learns about López, the more horrifying this reality becomes. To put it shortly, the man is more than deserving of his dark moniker, and in fact, the word “monster” might not even cover the true terror he caused—monsters are fictional, while the horror of López was all too real. To learn the unsettling details and figure out how the legal system could let him free anyway, keep reading for 15 shocking facts about Pedro López, The Monster of the Andes.
15 His Mother Was A Physically Abusive Pr------te
Almost every serial killer suffered some sort of trauma that drove them to their madness, and Pedro López most certainly fits this bill. Pedro’s father, Medardo Reyes, was killed in La Violencia, a Colombian Civil War between Conservatives and Liberals while his mother Benilda was three months pregnant with him. Pedro had six older siblings from birth, and an additional six would follow. It isn’t clear who every last child’s father was, however, as Pedro claimed his mother was an actively working prostitute as she raised her dozen plus children, an issue that easily could've warped his views on women from a young age. In addition to her questionable career choice as a mother of 13, Pedro also claimed Benilda beat him and his many siblings, usually after clients would beat and degrade her, thus possibly as a form of revenge. The vicious cycle would continue through Pedro’s later actions.
14 He Was Thrown Out Of His House At 8 Years Old
Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with being a single mother, and the situation has produced countless normal boys and girls throughout history. Unfortunately, things get a little complicated when that single mother is abusive and raising 13 children, not to mention a prostitute who refuses to quit her job. Following this logic, one of the first good things to happen to Pedro López might've been when his mother kicked him out of the house at the young age of 8, though certain reports argue he simply ran away after getting punished for the umpteenth time. In either case, Pedro also groped his sister moments before the banishment/punishment took place, predicting that the damage had already been done and that it didn’t matter where he lived anymore; the kid was bound to turn into a pretty horrible person. That said, things would only get worse for young Pedro from there, causing his inner demon to intensify.
13 He Became A Drug Addict and Gang Member
Either abandoned by or having escaped from his family, Pedro López was on his own in the streets of Bogota, Columbia from an extremely young age. To first-world ears and eyes, this is a shocking tragedy in and of itself, yet one child alone barely explains the extent of Columbia’s problem with “gamines,” homeless street children who've long populated the city in massive numbers. Because there were so many kids like Pedro, it was easy for him to find friends, yet unsurprisingly, he chose the worst type around in a local gang. It was with his gang that López first began smoking “basuco,” an impure and very low grade of cocaine, usually laced with tobacco or marijuana. Plenty of people have used all three of those drugs without ever killing anyone, yet mix in López’s awful childhood up to that point, plus the fact he was still very young when warping his brain with these substances, and it was basically a concoction for a future murderer.
12 He Was Repeatedly Assaulted By Various Strangers
Thus far into this article, one might almost experience an inclination to feel bad for Pedro López. Before he became the preeminent “Monster of the Andes,” he found himself alone on the streets before he was even a teenager, with no one to turn to for help. Some might even wish they could’ve helped the boy, which is exactly what a seemingly kind stranger claimed he was doing when approaching López on the street one day. Promising room, board, and care, the man then lured Pedro into an abandoned building and sexually assaulted him repeatedly. Shortly thereafter, an elderly couple found him and actually took pity on him, or so they thought, by sending him to a school for orphans. Unfortunately, that school for orphans hired a teacher who continued the pattern in Pedro’s life by sexually molesting him after class, causing the boy to run away once more.
11 He Killed At Least Three Men In Prison
Given his upbringing and life as described thus far, without any psychiatric help, it was only a matter of time before Pedro López's took a turn for the worse and snapped, so to speak. His first run in with the law wasn’t nearly as serious as the later incidents would become, as López was collared for car theft at 18 or 21 years old (reports vary). More important than his age or the details of the crime is the fact that for the third time in his life, López was sexually assaulted by his fellow inmates. This time, however, he was old enough to fight back, murdering all three of them with a shiv he had crafted in prison. It’s unclear whether or not this effected that particular jail stint, as the murders could've been ruled self-defense, but the end result was López knowing he could kill and finding satisfaction in doing so.
10 He Stalked His Victims Before Luring Them Away From Their Families
Almost immediately after his release from prison in the mid 1970s, Pedro López, then in his 20s, left his native Colombia and made his way to Peru. Upon arrival, Pedro started stalking young girls, usually in plain sight, watching them go to grocery stores with their mothers. López was particularly interested in girls of European descent, though he would later claim their parents were too watchful for him to kidnap or kill any of them. Instead, he focused on the indigenous Peruvian children with apparently less attentive parents, making it easier for him to plan and plot his actions against them without adult or police intervention. Once the girls noticed him, he would do whatever it took to get them alone, luring them with what he called “gifts and trinkets,” offering a hand mirror, for example. As soon as they got far enough away from where he had kidnapped them, López would methodically begin his horrible plan.
9 He Assaulted And Murdered Over 300 Girls
Whenever one person takes the life of another for no reason that anyone can understand, it’s a tragedy. For this reason, it’s hard to say who is worse between a murderer who took one life viciously and without remorse versus a serial killer who took a dozen or so in the same manner. Both examples are evil; it was just a manner of who was stopped first. Eventually, however, the numbers get so high we can definitely state one mass murderer was viler than the others, and with an alleged 350+ victims, Pedro López more than achieved that terrible status. Across three countries--his native Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador--López abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered literally hundreds of innocent young girls. In Ecuador alone, he pleaded guilty to 110 murders, half of which police were able to connect with bodies.
8 He Only Killed During The Daytime
Easily the most unsettling quality of Pedro López isn’t simply what he did, but rather the immense pleasure and satisfaction he felt in doing it. In fact, it wasn’t just killing people that gave López such a rush, as his victims were carefully chosen to ensure he’d enjoy the experience to its fullest. The Monster of the Andes always strangled his victims first thing in the morning, after kidnapping them and lulling them to sleep with him in an abandoned, faraway place. They would wake up with his hands around their throats in the middle of a sexual assault, and it was seeing their terrified and shocked reactions as the sun rose that López desired the most. Most killers commit their crimes in the dead of night to avoid suspicion and escape with ease, yet López frighteningly proved it’s shockingly easy to get away with murder in plain daylight as well.
7 He Had Sick, Twisted “Parties” With His Victims' Corpses
For most serial killers, luring a victim to their death has a pretty obvious ending: they kill the victim and move on to the next one. Pedro López had different ideas with what to do with his corpses, however, often burying them en masse in the same shallow graves so he could go back and “play” with them later. While it may be easy to assume López was doing so in a sexual manner as a necrophiliac, the real story may be even more disturbing. Essentially, López would have tea parties with his victims, propping up decaying corpses alongside his newest kills and having imaginary conversations with them. What exactly López talked about or what he pictured his victims saying to him is something we hope the world will never have to find out.
6 He Was Charged With Only 16 Years In Prison For His Crimes
No amount of retribution seems appropriate for a true monster like Pedro López, who delighted in violently robbing innocent victims of their lives, innocence, and futures in horrifically overwhelming numbers. Regardless of how people feel about the death penalty, they would probably expect it to be on the table when López was captured by Ecuadorian police and confessed to over 100 sexually charged murders. Instead, because Ecuador had apparently never anticipated a menace with López’s reach, the maximum sentence they could impose upon him was a mere 16 years in prison. That’s one year for every 19 victims, barely over one month each for the terrifying number of lives he took. That this was entirely served in solitary confinement in no way makes it more severe, especially considering the alone time is how he got released early--after a mere 14 years--for “good behavior.”
5 There Was A $25,000 Bounty On His Head In Prison
No one likes someone who serially murders young children, and that includes other hardened prisoners in the joint for lesser crimes. Intensify the feeling by about a million for members of the victims' immediate families, and should these two groups converge on a warped Venn diagram, whoever killed those kids better sleep with one eye open to avoid meeting a similar fate himself. Pedro López and the authorities at the prison he was incarcerated in knew this--or at least feared what it meant--which is how they discovered a $25,000 bounty was placed on his head by some victims' relatives. Police never took action against whoever it was placing the bounty, simply moving Pedro to solitary confinement and hoping the plan wouldn’t be possible if they couldn’t reach him. They also may have understood that whoever offered the money wasn’t a threat to anyone except the monster behind bars and maybe even agreed he deserved to die, but they couldn’t do anything about it.
4 He Promised To Kill Again Once Released
Typically speaking, the only way a murderer can get released from prison is by exhibiting some sort of remorse. This is the key step in parole hearings that makes it so hard for criminals to get released, even with the alleged “good behavior” that shaved two years off of Pedro López’s already too-short sentence. Of course, that’s all just typical of America or other modern justice systems. In the early ‘90s, Ecuador’s law was so lax that a man could straight up say, “I will be happy to kill again; it's my mission” and his release would still go forward exactly as planned. That’s a direct quote from Pedro López during his incarceration, giving an idea of what he was thinking about during that brief vacation behind bars. Allegedly, his cell was covered in newspaper clippings about what he had done, and he simply couldn’t wait to get out there and do it all over again.
3 He Was Almost Tortured To Death Until Saved By A Nun
Long before the legal system in Ecuador failed the victims of Pedro López, the “Monster of the Andes” very nearly experienced a case of frontier justice before saved by an unlikely source. Sometime in the early ‘70s, still terrorizing Peru, López was captured by a tribe, Ayacucho, a group that also wasn’t entirely modern in how they sought justice against child killers. Rather than offer unsatisfyingly light sentences, however, the Ayacucho people took things in a different direction and may have even reached cruel and unusual proportions when they buried López in sand up to his head and covered him in honey, preparing a slow death by starvation while his face was eaten by insects. Feeling that was harsh no matter what he had done, a passing missionary convinced the tribe to deport López to Colombia rather than kill him in their violent manner. Unfortunately, the Colombians didn’t seem to care when he arrived--until more bodies started showing up.
2 He’s One Of The Most Prolific Serial Killers In History
Look deep enough in their vaults, and one can discover that Guinness has listed a World Record for just about everything. At some point in history, the record-keeping organization decided to do away with some of the more violent and terrifying designations on their list, though, worried some people might try and beat them by being even greater villains. This is why Pedro López no longer sits in their pages as the “most prolific serial killer,” yet he may well hold that title. Claiming over 300 victims across three countries-- and all in a span of less than a decade--López was killing as many as three girls per week, in greater numbers than any other menace to society ever has. This truly makes him one of the worst criminals in history and someone who deserved to stay behind bars for life, bringing up serious questions about how Ecuador handled his incarceration.
1 His Whereabouts Have Been Unknown Since 1998
The terror caused by the “Monster of the Andes” momentarily ceased in 1980 when he was captured and sent to prison, yet it came back in full force 14 years later upon his 1994 release--for a little while, anyway, as Ecuadorian authorities were instantly ready to deport him back to his native Colombia, where López was instantly put on trial for another of his many murders. Unfortunately, once again, the system failed spectacularly by sentencing López to a mental institution for a mere four years, hardly a fitting punishment for someone who took lives in the triple digits for pleasure. Arguably the scariest part of all is that since his release from the psychiatric hospital in 1998, the governments of Peru, Ecuador, and wherever else he might be traveling pretty much stopped keeping track of things. For all we know, López is dead, but he could also still be at large. No upsurge in bodies has been seen in any of his old haunting grounds, yet the world is a big place, and until a death notice is official, we can never be certain the Monster of the Andes won’t strike again.
Sources: , Scotland on Sunday, Scottish Daily Record
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