Mexico City seeks to downplay the case of a serial killer suspect who kept women’s bones in his room

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City prosecutors sought Thursday to downplay the case of a suspected serial killer who kept women’s bones and a saw in his room, apparently having targeted women over the course of more than a decade.

The city’s head prosecutor said the remains of six women were found in the suspect’s rented room, “not 20 as some unfounded reports have suggested.”

City prosecutor Ulises Lara stressed that only three of the man’s alleged crimes occurred during the present administration, which took office in late 2018. He said the others apparently occurred in 2012, 2015 and 2018, meaning the killer went uncaught for at least 12 years.

Lara slammed reports that all the crimes took place in 2023 and 2024, during the term of former Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who is now running for president. He called those reports “absolutely false and unfounded.”

The prosecutor contended the killer was essentially unstoppable because “he showed no signs of violent or aggressive behavior in his daily life.”

Under Mexican law, the suspect can be identified only by his first name, Miguel. Local media reported he worked as a chemist.

Lara did not specify the nature of the remains found in a search of the suspect’s rented rooms last week, but local media reported they were skulls.

Investigators also said they found blood stains, bones, a saw, cellphones and missing women’s ID cards, as well as other “biological material” in the rooms. Lara said five of the IDs belonged to women who have been located alive, but did not say how many belonged to women who are still missing or among the dead.

Last week, Lara said investigators also found “a series of notebooks that may well be narrations of the acts that Miguel carried out against his victims.”

The prosecutor rejected criticisms that Mexico City authorities do little to investigate the cases of missing women until their bodies pile up, saying the number of reported women’s killings has declined.

The suspect in this case was caught when he allegedly broke into a neighbor’s apartment seeking to kill his seventh victim last week, was interrupted and left a surviving witness.

According to prosecutors, the man apparently waited for a woman to leave her apartment last week and then rushed in and sexually abused and strangled her 17-year-old daughter.

The mother returned and saw the man leaving, but he slashed her in the neck and fled, authorities said. The mother survived but her daughter did not.

The suspect lived near the scene of the crime, and he was quickly identified and arrested. He has been ordered held over for trial on charges of murder and attempted murder, both related to the most recent victims.

Without proper funding, training or professionalism, prosecutors in Mexico’s capital have routinely failed to stop serial killers until the number of victims reaches a point that can’t be ignored.

For example, Lara said his office has contacted the families of four missing women because there is reason to believe they may be among the victims of the current suspect.

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, a lawyer who represents the family of one of those women, questioned why authorities didn’t investigate her disappearance earlier — acting only when evidence linked to her case showed up at the suspect’s apartment.

“Why was there never an investigation, why were people never interviewed, despite missing person reports being filed starting in 2015?” Gutiérrez said.

In 2021, a serial killer in a Mexico City suburb was only caught after years of alleged crimes — 19 bodies were found hacked up and buried at his house — because his final victim was the wife of a police commander.

In 2018, a serial killer in Mexico City responsible for the deaths of at least 10 women was caught only when he was found pushing a dismembered body down the street in a baby carriage. He had dumped most of the bodies of his victims in vacant lots.

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