|“||I rape virgin girls because they cry.||”|
— Camargo's sadism
Camargo was born into a wealthy family living in Anolaima, a small town in the Colombian Andes, on January 22, 1930. His father was a local businessman named Daniel Camargo Briceño, and his mother, Teresa Barbosa, was his father's second wife. Camargo also had an older half-sister, born from his father's first marriage. When Camargo was two years old, his mother died and his father remarried to another woman shortly afterward. Camargo was very intelligent and did well in school (he would later be attributed an IQ of 116). However, whenever he tried to reach out to Briceño, regardless of the subject, he would cut him short and tell Camargo that he was useless and a lost cause. Eventually, Camargo lost any interest in interacting with his father, and he perfected his newfound ability to lie and manipulate people, using it as a means to get out of having conversations with him.
Since Briceño was emotionally distant and much more interested in his business than his family, Camargo's childhood was mostly influenced by his stepmother, Dioselina Fernández. Fernández was just an adolescent at the time of her marriage and she was obsessed with the idea of having a daughter of her own, which only became more pronounced when she found that she was unable to bear children. She doted on her stepdaughter while abusing her stepson, who she would punish by forcefully undressing him from the waist down and hitting him in the bare buttocks with a bullwhip. After Camargo developed violent tendencies and got in a fight at school, Fernández punished him by taking away his pants, forcing him to wear women's clothes, and inviting his schoolmates to come over and watch him. This abuse destroyed any popularity he had at school and made him a frequent victim of bullying. From then on, Camargo came to despise women and everything feminine.
In the early 1940s, Briceño sent him to a prestigious, all-male Catholic boarding school in Bogota. Camargo excelled academically again, but his plans to continue studying were truncated when his whole family was hit by economic hardship during La Violencia. Camargo was forced to drop out and get a job as a door-to-door salesman to support them, and found that it was easy to convince people in the capital to let him into their homes or make purchases. In 1957, he started a relationship with a young client, Alcira Castillo, and convinced her to rent a house together after a few dates. However, the expenses turned out to be greater than he expected, and he tried to make ends meet by robbing a shop owned by another client on May 24, 1958. He was arrested a few hours later and sent to a minimum-security prison for petty theft. Taking advantage of a distraction, Camargo took a clipboard from a desk and pretended to be busy as he walked out with departing officers at the end of their shift. He returned home and resumed his life as if nothing had happened. In 1962, Camargo met another woman, Esperanza, and he fell in love with her to the point of deciding to leave Castillo, even though they had two children. After becoming engaged to Esperanza, he found that she wasn't a virgin like he assumed, and later found her in their bed with another man.
Crimes, Arrest, and Death
"I hated [prostitutes]. They disgusted me. I feared venereal diseases and their ravages. I wanted pure, virgin women."
Camargo wanted to end the engagement at first, but found himself unable to do so. Using his skills at manipulation, he convinced her that she disappointed him and that she should make it up to him by providing virgin girls to him, so he could take their virginity in her place. Agreeing, Esperanza lured five young girls to their apartment and drugged them with barbiturates so Camargo could rape them while they were unconscious. This lasted until 1964, when their fifth victim realized what happened and identified them to police. The couple was arrested, and Camargo was initially sentenced to three years in prison. However, this was increased to eight years by another judge. Camargo considered himself a victim and resolved that when he raped a girl the next time, he would also murder her. After serving out his full sentence, he was released and moved to Brazil, but he was arrested for illegal immigration in 1973 and was deported to Colombia. In Colombia, Camargo began to work as a street vendor, selling television monitors.
On May 2, 1974, Camargo was walking in front of a school in Barranquilla when he saw a nine-year-old girl, who he found attractive. He lured her to a secluded area, raped her, and strangled her, leaving the body in the place along with the TV sets that he was transporting. The next day, Camargo returned to dispose of the body and retrieve the sets, but he was followed by a police officer who suspected him and he was arrested. He was convicted and sentenced to thirty years of seclusion in Gorgona, an island situated 35 kilometers off Colombia's Pacific coast. Ten years into his sentence, Camargo happened upon a rowboat in a beach. He immediately jumped in and didn't stop paddling until he reached the mainland, hours later. The prison reported him as a fugitive, but the authorities assumed he died at sea, since they believed that the currents were too treacherous to navigate through without experience. The press even ran stories about how Camargo had been eaten by sharks. In truth, Camargo spent the preceding years studying the sea currents, reading books about navigation and learning to orientate himself with precision. As soon as he landed, he ran south towards the Ecuadorian border. Camargo was the first prisoner to ever escape what had been dubbed "the Colombian version of Alcatraz."
Camargo first traveled to the capital of Quito, in the Andes, but during the cold night of December 5-6, 1984, on the open, he decided to move back to the coast. Days later, on December 18, Camargo abducted another nine-year-old girl in Quevedo, Ecuador, and killed her. He went on to commit at least 55 rapes and murders of both young girls and adult women between 1984 and 1986. Most of the murders happened in the Guayas province, but sometimes also in locations as far away as Quito, Machala, and Ambato (where another Colombian nomadic serial killer, Pedro López, had been active years earlier). During this period, Camargo survived by working as a porter in the markets of Guayaquil, or selling clothing and objects taken from the victims. Just like in López's case, the authorities initially believed the murders were the work of organized crime, and many rumors pointed to white slavery rings, Satanic cults, or powerful people who were being protected by the authorities. The most accurate rumor was one claiming that a new serial killer, nicknamed "The Beast of the Andes", had decided to beat the record set earlier by López's number of victims.
Camargo was arrested on February 26, 1986, by two Quito policemen after he was found in possession of bloody clothes stolen from his last victim, Elizabeth Telpes. Incidentally, the suitcase where he was transporting the clothes also contained a copy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which he had acquired while incarcerated in Gorgona. Camargo was taken into custody and moved to Guayaquil after a local woman named María Alexandra Vélez announced that she survived an attack by a man matching his description. Camargo admitted to killing 71 victims in Ecuador following his escape from prison. In 1989, he was convicted and sentenced to sixteen years, the maximum sentence available for murder in Ecuador. He was imprisoned at Quito's García Moreno Prison, coincidentally the same penitentiary housing López. On November 13, 1994, Camargo was sitting in his cell when a new inmate, 29-year-old Giovanny Arcesio Noguera Jaramillo, entered and forced him on his knees. After saying "It is the hour of vengeance", Noguera shanked Camargo eight times, killing him, and cut off one of his ears as a trophy. Noguera showed the ear to the guards, claiming his aunt was one of Camargo's victims and that he avenged her. Because nobody claimed Camargo's body, he was buried in a mass grave located in Quito's El Batán cemetery. He was 64 years old when he died.
Camargo targeted females, willing to go after girls aged as young as nine, as long as he found them attractive. His favorite type of target was peasants, maids, and students transitioning from primary school to college. He would approach them, pretending he was a foreigner who needed to find a Protestant pastor in a church located on the outskirts of town, to whom he needed to deliver a large sum of money. His lie was supported by Camargo's educated vocabulary and fluency in English and Portuguese. He would then offer a reward to the girls if they would show him the way to the church, such as a small part of the money, candy, or pens; the older victims were offered jobs at the church. Most of the locations where the actual murders took place were remote and forested, and required a previous bus trip. Once in the woods, Camargo would walk some distance from the victim and conceal himself among the vegetation, claiming that he was now familiar with the area and had remembered a shortcut to their destination. If the victim got suspicious and refused to follow him, Camargo would make no attempt to stop them, simply changing location to find a new victim.
If his lure was successful, Camargo would threaten the victims with a blade and rape them in a secluded spot, before killing them in a variety of ways, such as strangulation, stabbing and hacking, slashing, or crushing with a machete. One adult woman who struck him in the head with a rock while he was raping her enraged him so much, that he decapitated her on the spot and threw the head away. Another victim was gutted, with her lungs, kidneys, and heart extracted. After killing his victims, Camargo would steal the clothes and any valuables on their bodies before leaving the bodies to be eaten by scavengers. He always carried a second shirt so he could change his bloody clothes, and whenever his hands got bloodied, he would wash the blood away by urinating on them. He memorized any details about the victims that he could remember, even trivial ones like scars, tattoos, and moles. Sometimes, he even got the phone numbers of their families and called them after a crime to taunt them.
- Unknown dates from 1962 to 1964, Bogota, Colombia: Five unnamed girls (all drugged by his accomplice and raped only)
- May 2, 1974, Barranquilla, Colombia: An unnamed nine-year-old girl (raped and strangled)
- Unknown dates and locations from 1984 to 1986, Ecuador: At least 55 unnamed victims (all raped and killed by various causes)
- 1984, Ecuador:
- December 18, Quevedo: An unnamed nine-year-old girl
- December 19, Quevedo: An unnamed ten-year-old girl
- 1986, Ecuador:
- Unspecified date: Unnamed woman (the aunt of Giovanny Arcesio Noguera Jaramillo; killed by unknown causes)
- February, Guayaquil: María Alexandra Vélez (raped and attempted to kill)
- February 26, Quito: Elizabeth Telpes (killed by unknown causes)
- Note: Camargo is also suspected of being responsible for the deaths of more than 80 girls in Colombia.
- Per Spanish naming customs, Colombian people have two last names. The first surname is the first of the father, and the second surname the first of the mother. In most cases, the paternal surname (Camargo in this case) is the only one used in daily life.
On Criminal Minds
Camargo is similar to prolific serial killer Thomas Yates. Both targeted women, had mothers who died when they were young, were bullied in school, were abused by maternal figures (Yates was abused by his grandmother; Camargo was abused by his stepmother), were forced to wear girl's clothing as part of the abuse, and committed crimes they were incarcerated for prior to their serial killings. His childhood abuse may have also provided some inspiration for Adam Jackson, while one of his signatures (calling victims' families to taunt them) was used for Claire Bates and Daniel Milworth.
- Wikipedia's article about Camargo
- Murderpedia's article about Camargo
- Prezi presentation of Camargo's life by Daniel English
- Criminalia's article about Camargo (IN SPANISH)
- Escrito con Sangre's article about Camargo (IN SPANISH)
- Los monstruos en Colombia sí existen (2014)
- ↑ Spanish for "The Violence"