Trivia Question: With a staggering death toll of over 300 victims, which killer struck fear into the hearts of people across multiple continents? Answer: Pedro López, the “Monster of the Andes.” What makes López one of modern history’s most gruesome and prolific serial killers?
Pedro López was born in Santa Isabel, Colombia, on October 8, 1948, and knew darkness from an early age. His father was murdered six months before he was born. Like other psychopathic killers, he was subjected to horrific abuse and violence at the hands of his mother and her boyfriends while growing up.
But young Pedro was also an abuser, as well as a victim of abuse. He was kicked out of his home at the age of eight for sexually abusing his sister, and later he himself was sexually assaulted on the street. These pivotal experiences would set the stage for his descent into madness, leading him to commit some of the most heinous crimes in history.
Like other notorious serial killers, López had a history of committing crimes and misdemeanors from a young age and was arrested for thefts and assaults. After attempting to steal a car, López was arrested. During his time in prison, he killed four inmates who had allegedly attacked him, claiming that his retaliation was self-defense.
For more on psychopaths, check out the MagellanTV documentary Psychopath: Redefining "Rational."
However, the crimes he committed later definitely weren’t justified. Upon his release from prison in 1978, López immediately set out on a killing spree that would span three countries and claim the lives of hundreds of young girls.
López's modus operandi was simple but effective. He would target girls between the ages of eight and 12, luring them away from their homes or schools with promises of food or money. Once he had his victims alone, he would rape and strangle them before disposing of their bodies in remote locations. It’s estimated that López killed over 300 girls, although the actual number may never be known.
López managed to evade capture for many years, moving from country to country, often posing as homeless or mentally ill to avoid suspicion. It wasn't until 1980, when López was apprehended in Ecuador, that the full magnitude of his crimes began to come to light.
During his trial, López would confess to over 110 murders in Ecuador alone. He would go on to admit to dozens more murders in Colombia and Peru, likely making him the most prolific serial killer in modern history. (Serial killers often become quite talkative when captured.) López was eventually sentenced to life in prison. Incredibly, however, he was released in 1998 for “good behavior” after serving just 18 years of his sentence. After his release, that so-called good behavior dissipated.
López is currently a wanted fugitive. As of 2023, his whereabouts remain unknown.