"All men wish to rape their mother at some point."
Rodríguez Vega was born in a dysfunctional family of Santander, Spain in 1957. His grandfather was rumored to have poisoned his grandmother; his father and elder brother were violent alcoholics; and his mother was aggressive, dominant, and violent as well. When Rodríguez Vega was eight years old, he was molested by a 50-year-old widow who he had considered a friend. Afterwards, he would compulsively masturbate. From the age of twelve, he began to develop sexual impulses towards his mother, impulses that he found disconcerting and kept secret. When he turned eighteen, Rodríguez Vega had also become violent and was thrown out of the family home after throwing his wheelchair-bound father down the stairs. He married a high-school classmate despite the disapproval of both families and fathered a son with her, but the marriage turned sour because of his jealousy and constant arguments about their sex life.
At the age of twenty, Rodríguez Vega was arrested for raping two women and attempting to rape three others. He was subsequently sentenced to 27 years in prison. During his imprisonment, he showed no remorse and claimed that he did it because he was bored. Since the Spanish penal code of the time allowed the nullification of a sentence in some cases where the victim pardoned their aggressor, Rodríguez Vega wrote to his victims, asking them for forgiveness, and his mother also talked to them on his behalf. All but one agreed, and his sentence was reduced to eight years. The year before his release, his wife divorced him and moved out of town. Freed in 1986, Rodríguez Vega began a relationship with another woman and attempted to move back into the family home with her. However, his mother refused to let him do so because she didn't approve of her son living with a woman he wasn't married to. Rodríguez Vega never forgave his mother for this and considered it the reason behind his killings of elderly women.
Murders, Arrest and Incarceration
Rodríguez Vega's first victim was Victoria Rodríguez, a 61-year-old prostitute he slept with regularly. They were talking after sex when he suddenly had a desire to put his hands over her nose and mouth until she suffocated to death, which he enacted. All of his other victims, all raped and killed the same way, were planned and selected beforehand. All of them were lone women who had hired him to do construction work in their homes, or who he convinced to let him in with a ruse. In many cases, their bodies were not discovered until several days after they died. Despite the concerns of some families and the victims being found bruised and with no underwear, the deaths were attributed to natural causes and not investigated, even after a morgue employee told police and the press that three of the deceased women had vaginal injuries. On April 19, 1988, Rodríguez Vega murdered Julia Paz Fernández in Muriedas, and jurisdiction subsequently fell to the Spanish Civil Guard rather than the police. Midway into the investigation, the Civil Guard learned that Paz had just hired a worker to reinforce her entry door, Rodríguez Vega, and that he had been in prison for rape.
They shared their suspicions with the police, who realized that two other recently deceased women had also had their doors reinforced just before their death. Rodríguez Vega was arrested, and he nonchalantly admitted to have killed nine women because he saw them as surrogates of his mother and mother-in-law. Meanwhile, a search of his rented home found a room painted red, where 30 to 40 items were displayed. Some were recognized by relatives of the aforementioned nine women, and seven more families recognized others when said items were shown on TV. Around 10% of the objects remained unclaimed, implying the existence of other victims. In 1991, Rodríguez Vega was sentenced to 440 years in prison, though he could not serve more than 30 by law. Delusional and narcissistic, he conceded several interviews while incarcerated, always stating his belief that he would be pardoned soon and make millions of money from his memories. Along with his proximity to the guards, this made him unpopular with other inmates, causing him to change prison frequently. On October 24, 2002, he was seized by two inmates who accused him of being a snitch and fatally stabbed 113 times.
Rodríguez Vega's early crimes were opportunistic. He would drive around on his scooter, assault a young woman walking alone using his own strength only, and flee using the same vehicle.
However, his murders displayed more organization. Rodríguez Vega targeted women that lived alone, were between 65 and 93 years of age (although he had trouble telling ages and described the victims as being in their 50s and 60s, closer to the age of his own mother), and that he came across during his time working as a freelance construction worker. If the victim was a client, he would return after completing the assigned work with the excuse of checking to see if he had done it correctly. If the victim was not a client, he would introduce himself as a handyman looking for work or an insurance salesman. Once inside the house, he would converse with his victims, fondle them, and proceed to rape them when they screamed at him to stop. When he killed them, Rodríguez Vega would suffocate them by placing his hand over their nose and mouth. He killed his victims while in the process of raping them, although he insisted that they were alive and only unconscious. Sometimes, he would penetrate the victims himself, but on occasion, he would use an object. Having obtained a thrill from the kill, he would return home and have sex with his girlfriend. Before leaving, Rodríguez Vega would carry his victims to bed, cross their arms over their heart, and tuck them in. He would also take one or more objects, mostly jewelry, and place them in his "red room" to relive the crimes.
"That son of a bitch made a report on me without knowing me nor talking to me. This is why I'm going after that bastard when I get out."
The forensic psychiatrist team that examined Rodríguez Vega before his trial declared that "he is a heartless psychopath and a sexual pervert with capacity to distinguish between what is licit and what is not. He has no sense of guilt and lacks compassion and shame. He may repeat similar acts in the future." Crime psychiatrist José Antonio García-Andrade added that "[t]he subject experiences great anxiety before sex, which results in enormous insecurity, with a reduced theshold for frustration. The neurotic traits of the subject are related to his sexual anomalies" and that "the incest element was an unconscious trigger determinant to the succession of events."
- Unspecified dates in 1977: At least five unnamed women (all assaulted only)
- April 15: Victoria Rodríguez Morales, 61
- June 13: Simona Salas Menéndez, 84
- August 6: Margarita González Sánchez, 82
- September 17: Josefina López Gutiérrez del Anillo, 86
- September 30: Manuela González Fernández, 80
- October 6: Josefina Martínez, 84
- October 31: Natividad Robledo Espinosa, 86
- December 18: Catalina Fernández, 93
- December 29: María Isabel Fernández, 82
- January 6: María Landazábal, 72
- January 30: Carmen Martínez González, 65
- February 11: Engracia González Aranada, 65
- February 23: Josefa Quirós Llano, 82
- March 16: Florinda Fernández Valliciervo, 84
- April 2: Serena Soto Arguelles, 85
- April 19: Julia Paz Fernández, 71
- Per Spanish naming customs, Spanish people have two last names. The first surname is the first of the father, and the second surname the first of the mother. Hispanics may also have more than one first name and choose to use all or only one. Though Rodríguez Vega could be called "José Rodríguez" in theory - since most people use only the first first name and first surname in daily life - he is always referred to by his two first names or two last names because both "José" and "Rodríguez" are extremely common.
- After his arrest, Rodríguez Vega was nicknamed El Mataviejas and El Asesino de Ancianas. Both terms translate to "The Old Lady Killer" in English, but the second is considered more respectful to his victims.
On Criminal Minds
Though Rodríguez Vega has not been mentioned or referenced in Criminal Minds, he might have provided some inspiration for Pablo Vargas, the unsub in Machismo. Both Pablo and Rodríguez Vega were active in Spanish-speaking countries, were serial rapists targeting younger women before switching to raping and killing elderly women (though Pablo was unable to consummate during his second spree), took mementos from their victims, had difficult relationships with their mothers, and remained active for longer periods of time because law enforcement initially did not recognize the presence of a serial killer despite the outward signs. Pablo's murder of his mother may have also been a reference to Rodríguez Vega wishing he did the same to his own mother.
Rodríguez Vega also shares similarities with Robert Johnson. Both were pathological narcissists who entered the homes of their victims by peddling their services door to door, strangled them manually, and became killers after serving time in jail for a different offense.
- Wikipedia's article of Rodríguez Vega
- Murderpedia's article of Rodríguez Vega
- Criminalia's article of Rodríguez Vega (IN SPANISH, NOT TRANSLATED)
- El Mundo article on Rodríguez Vega's murder (IN SPANISH, NOT TRANSLATED)