Pick Me Up! magazine asked for my professional opinion on Pedro Lopez, a Colombian serial killer, accused of raping and killing more than 300 girls across South America. Out in the 18th October 2012 edition, I supplied the following psychological insight.
Pedro was caught by his mother having sexual relations with his sister when he was only eight. What made him sexually aware at so young an age? And why would Pedro have wanted to commit incest and have sex with his sister?
It is documented that Pedro’s mother was a prostitute and that Pedro had witnessed her bringing men home and having sex with them. This is the likely reason as to why Pedro was so sexually aware at such a young age. In terms of why he chose his sister, this is likely to be due to opportunity more than a desire for incest.
Pedro was promised help by an older man when he became homeless. This man went on to rape him. What effect would this betrayal have had on Pedro?
Pedro was abused at a time when he was at his most vulnerable. At rock bottom, this event could have been a turning point for Pedro, influencing which direction his life was to go. Already lacking trust in adults, the kindness of a stranger could have turned Pedro’s struggle with the world into a realisation that life is not all bad and that there is hope. Instead, Pedro’s fears about the world being dangerous were supported further, as was his conviction that for his own safety he had to go it alone.
In prison, Pedro was gang raped. He swore revenge and managed to kill three of his four attackers. Why did Pedro react with this violence? And what role did revenge play in his subsequent murders of young girls?
Pedro was fed up of being the victim and this incident in prison made something click in Pedro’s brain – he would no longer be the victim. Although he was able to release a huge amount of rage when murdering three of the prisoners who raped him, Pedro had been through a lot prior to this incident – his anger would likely need further quenching and he had learnt one way to do that – through violence and murder. Outside the confines of the prison, however, Pedro’s victims would need to be people who were easy prey. Young girls who would go out of their way to help a stranger in need became his preferred victim. In addition to these young girls being easy to capture, it is also possible that these murders were somehow related to his early sexual experience with his sister, an event that his mother put an end to. It is possible that Pedro was rebelling against his mother, a woman who he clearly had a great deal of anger towards, as indicated via police interviews.
He stated in an interview after his arrest that he’d lost his innocence when he was eight, and that he intended to rid as many young girls of theirs as possible. How can we understand this?
The traumatised mind makes sense out of chaos as best as it can. Pedro, traumatised from a young age, learnt in prison that he could escape those who abused him by killing them. It is likely that Pedro began to believe that in order to prevent himself from becoming a victim again, he had to remain in power the only way he had learnt how – through rape and murder. Why he chose young girls as opposed to young boys or, indeed, grown men like those who had taken his innocence, remains unknown. However, it can be theorised that the only occasion Pedro was in control sexually, as opposed to being a victim, was when he was the instigator of sexual relations with his sister. Therefore, he sought this sexual control again and again through selecting young girls as victims.
Why was he so obsessed with innocence and why would he want to take it away from others, knowing the pain his own loss of innocence had caused him?
Pedro was so obsessed with innocence because he had lost his so young. It is likely that he longed for his own innocence back, whilst also envying the innocence of the young girls who became his victims. Why should they have the innocence he was denied?
While most people have empathy, which makes them not want others to feel the pain they have experienced, most serial killers tend to lack empathy – they cannot put themselves in another person’s shoes. Therefore, it is likely that Pedro didn’t think about the pain he would be causing these girls; his focus was on destroying the innocence that he could not have – these girls were merely ‘symbols’ of that innocence.
He never killed by night, only in the day when he could see his victims’ faces. What does this say about him?
This again highlights Pedro’s obsession with innocence. By watching their faces, he would be able to watch their innocence disappear as their faces filled with fear and pain.
Other interesting points:
It is important to note that it was after being chucked out of the house for fondling his sister that Pedro was picked up by a man on the street and raped. At 8-years old, young Pedro is likely to have linked his own rape with fondling his sister – drawing the conclusion that he was punished for what he had done to his sister. His choice of victim – young girls – could have been his expression of anger towards his sister, who the adult Pedro might blame for the events he had endured as a child.