Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos (born January 25, 1957), also known as La Bestia ("The Beast") or Tribilín (named after the Disney character "Goofy") is a Colombian rapist and serial killer. In 1999, he admitted to the rape, torture and murder of 138 children and teenagers. His victims, based on the locations of skeletons listed on maps that Garavito drew in prison, could exceed 300; Garavito continues to confess to more murders. He has been described by local media as "the world's worst serial killer." The Guinness Book of World Records lists another Colombian, Pedro Alonso López, known here as ''the Monster of the Andes,'' as the largest-scale serial killer of modern times; however, in terms of the number of confirmed victims Garavito tops the list followed by López. The judicial body ruled that all Garavito's sentences total 1,853 years and nine days in jail.
Though Garavito's mother is unknown, it had been speculated from the community of Génova that Garavito's mother had been a long-time prostitute. During the time of working as a prostitute, Garavito's mother had been brutally abused by Garavito's father, who was a heavy alcoholic and would also abuse Garavito's siblings - including Garavito himself. Around this time, Garavito's father would force Garavito to watch his mother conduct in sexual intercourse with her clients, letting his mother's clients sexually abuse and molest Garavito. Under the influence of drugs, Garavito's mother couldn't do anything due to the abuse and torture of Garavito's alcoholic father. Garavito eventually ran away from home and survived on the Colombian streets. At the age of eight, Garavito was found by a pedophile. The man promised Garavito a hot meal and a place to rest; reluctantly, Garavito accepted the offer, but instead of the hot meal and a place to sleep, the man led Garavito to an abandoned house where Garavito was sexually assaulted. A few days after, Garavito then joined a rebellious gang for protection. The gang often robbed the Colombian civilians for food, money, and cars, which they exchanged for money at local chop shops.
Garavito started working as soon as he "earned" enough money to survive on the streets,traveling a substantial amount to keep up with the job demands in Colombia. Although he frequently moved, Garavito had a girlfriend named Teresa. His girlfriend had a small child which she recalls him getting along with very well. Garavito was known by his friends to be kind, yet easily angered.
Victim type and killing patterns
Garavito's victims were clearly identified by their age, gender, and social status. Garavito targeted boys between the ages of 6 to 16 who were either homeless, peasants, or orphaned. He would approach the young boys, either on the crowded streets or alone in the countryside, and lure them away by bribing them with small gifts such as money, candy or odd jobs. He offered easy work for money and even disguised himself as different characters who could be seen as legitimately offering work to the boy, such as a priest, a farmer, a homeless man, a street vendor, a drug dealer, an elderly man, and a gambler. To prevent suspicions about his activities from developing, Garavito would change his disguise often.
Once he had the trust of a child, Garavito would walk with the boy until they were tired and vulnerable, which then made them easy to handle. First, their hands were bound. Then, Garavito would remove all their clothes, and proceed to torture, rape, and sometimes decapitate them. Usually, the boy would endure prolonged rape and torture by having his buttocks stabbed and sharpened objects inserted into his anus; his testicles were often severed and placed into his mouth. The bodies of the children were all found completely naked, and all bore bite marks and signs of anal penetration; bottles of lubricant were found near the bodies, along with empty liquor bottles. Most corpses showed signs of prolonged torture.
Beginning in 1992, boys between the ages of 6 through 16 began disappearing rapidly from the streets of Colombia. Due to the decades-long civil war, many children in Colombia were poor, homeless, or orphaned. For years, these murders had gone unnoticed because many of the victims had no police report filed on their disappearance. Clusters of bodies had begun popping up all over Colombia, yet authorities did not take much notice until 1997, when mass graves were uncovered.
This large number of missing children called for a widespread investigation, as these killings were not confined to a specific area. In February 1998, outside the town of Génova, Colombia, the bodies of two naked children were found lying next to each other on a hill. The next day, only meters away, another child's naked body was found. All three bodies had their hands bound and bore signs of sexual abuse. The victims' necks were severely cut, and bruises were on their backs, genitals, legs, and buttocks. The murder weapon was found in the same area as the bodies. A note that had been found at the crime scene had an address written on it; this information led them to Garavito's girlfriend.
She was contacted but told police that she had not seen Garavito in months. She did, however, give to the police a bag that he had left in her possession, which contained a number of Garavito's belongings. These items included pictures of young boys, detailed journals of his murders, tally marks of his victims, and bills. This new information led them to Garavito's residence, but the property was vacant. Detectives believed that Garavito was either traveling for work or away attempting to find his next victim. He was picked up by the local police just a few days later, on an unrelated charge of attempted rape against an adolescent boy. A homeless man had been close enough to observe the struggle between Garavito and the child and felt it necessary to rescue the adolescent. Garavito was arrested and, unbeknownst to them, the police had in their custody the man who was the most wanted killer in Colombia.
Arrest, confession, and sentencing
Garavito was arrested on April 22, 1999, on separate charges of attempted rape. Garavito was questioned about the local killings and his attempted rape charges. Police speculated that Garavito had planned on killing the young boy if the bystander had not intervened. After a short interrogation, detectives suspected Garavito of being La Bestia, although Garavito had insisted on his innocence. The detailed description of his killings brought Garavito to tears.
For Colombia's Justice Department, Garavito's confession was not enough. Garavito had an eye condition that was rare and only found in men in a particular age group. His glasses were specifically designed for his unique condition. These particular glasses were found at the site of a mass grave. Garavito also left behind empty liquor bottles, his underwear, and occasionally his shoes. DNA was found on the victims, along with the other items left behind. Police scheduled the entire jail where Garavito was being detained to get an eye exam; the outcome of his eye exam would help police pair the glasses to Garavito. By making it mandatory for all the prisoners, it reduced Garavito's suspicion and kept him from lying about his eyesight.
While Garavito was out of his cell, detectives took DNA samples from his pillow and living area. The DNA found on the victims was a match to the DNA found in Garavito's cell. Garavito confessed to murdering 140 children and was charged with killing 172 altogether throughout Colombia. He was found guilty on 138 of the 172 accounts; the others are ongoing. Garavito was sentenced to 1,853 years and 9 days in prison, the lengthiest sentence in Colombian history. However, Colombian law limits imprisonment to 40 years—and because Garavito helped police find the victims' bodies, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years.
Garavito is serving his sentence in a Colombian prison, the exact location of which is unavailable to the public. He is held separately from all other prisoners because it is feared that he would be killed immediately. He is scheduled to be released in 2021. Colombian law, however, says that those who have committed crimes against children are not eligible to receive any "benefits with ( i.e. from) justice" and are required to spend at least 60 years of their sentence in prison — in Garavito's case this would mean that the national maximum 40-year imprisonment limit, and especially the reduction to 22 years for helping police find victims' bodies, both considered "justice benefits", would not be applicable, and the number of years Garavito will spend in jail could be as high as 80.
Many Colombians criticized the possibility of Garavito's early release. In recent years, Colombians have increasingly felt that Garavito's sentence was not sufficient punishment for his crimes. Some have argued he deserves either life in prison or the death penalty, neither of which exist in Colombia. Colombian law had no provision or method to impose a sentence longer than what Garavito received, which was seen as a deficiency in the law caused by the failure to address the possibility of a serial killer in Colombian society. The law has since increased the maximum penalty for such crimes to 60 years in prison.
The TV host and journalist Guillermo Prieto La Rotta, popularly known as Perry, interviewed Garavito for a show which aired on June 11, 2006. Perry mentioned that, during the interview, Garavito tried to minimize his actions and expressed intent to start a political career in order to help abused children. Perry also described Garavito's conditions in prison and commented that due to good behavior, he could probably apply for early release within three years.