Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Revenge against the doctors who had surgery
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: July 28, 1934 / August 23, 1938
Date of arrest: August 23, 1938
Date of birth: November 21, 1908
Victims profile: Benjamín Garita Ramírez / Dr. Ricardo Moreno Cañas / Dr. Carlos Echandi Lahmann / Arthur Maynard
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Costa Rica
Status: Sentenced to 5 years in prison in 1934. Sentenced to life imprisonment on June 23, 1938. Released in 1970. Died on June 11, 1984

Beltrán Dalay Cortés Carvajal (21 November 1908 - 11 June 1984) was a convicted Costa Rican murderer, mostly known for the killings of Ricardo Moreno Cañas and Carlos Echandi. He is one of the most famous former prisoners of San Lucas Island.

Family and early years

Beltrán Cortés was born on November 12, 1908 as the youngest of his 18 siblings to his parents Rosendo Cortés Madrigal and Amelia Carvajal in Santa Bárbara, Heredia. By 1938 he was living with his mom and three sisters in Santa Bárbara. He finished the first levels of elementary school and then went to work as a farmer, never getting married or having children. A door accidentally fell on him as a kid in Heredia's market which resulted in a head wound that left him a permanent scar and a humerus fracture in his right arm that never aligned because it was not properly treated in time.

The surgeries by Dr. Moreno and Dr. Echandi

In 1928 at the age of 20 he had surgery three times by doctors Moreno and Echandi; on June 1 both doctors surgically wired his right humerus and then he had two follow up surgeries on July 23 by Dr. Echandi and August 3 by Dr. Moreno. On August 2, 1929, Dr. Moreno gave him metal plate implants, yet these were extracted on April 4, 1932. At this point his diagnosis was an unconsolidated humerus due to syphilis.

Criminal background

He then served as a police officer in San Rafael de Heredia. On July 28, 1934 while on duty he killed his partner Benjamín Garita Ramírez, for which he was convicted to a 5 year sentence in San Lucas Island however he got years taken off his sentence by performing manual labour. When he left prison he got a job at Chapuí Asylum, which he quickly quit to sell merchandise in the streets.

The doctors' murders

Cortés became obsessed with the failed surgeries over time. At least one doctor told him they had been the surgeons' fault while an attorney convinced him Dr. Moreno should compensate him for the hardship and pain suffered.

Cortés later stated that he had gone to the hospital to get treated for a pain in his leg and that Dr. Moreno took advantage of this to take a graft of bone from his healthy arm for a foreign patient. Even before the killings he had threatened several times with killing the two doctors, leading his mother to ask that he be admitted into Chapuí Asylum.

Cortés bought a gun from a police officer and on August 23, 1938 at 7:30 p.m (local time) he knocked on Dr. Moreno's door. When the maid opened the door he ran into the living room where Dr. Moreno was reading the newspaper and shot him three times. He escaped out of the place and immediately went to Dr. Echandi's house, even stopping along the way to ask for directions since he did not the location too well.

When he got there he once again knocked on the door and was received by the footman. Dr. Echandi was on his way out, as he had heard on the radio the news of Dr. Moreno's death and wanted to go to the crime scene. Cortés shot him twice from the front gate, although only one of the shots actually hit him as the other one bounced off the door. During his escape Cortés also killed a Canadian man called Arthur Maynard and severely injured two people by the names of Egérico Vargas Loría and Rodolfo Quirós Quirós before being caught.

San Lucas Island

On June 23, 1938 he was convicted to a sentence of undefined length at San Lucas Island. President León Cortés Castro ordered the construction of a 2 square metre cell for him that would allow all visitors to see him. During several years tourists were brought from Puntarenas up to the island to see him exhibited in this cell. José León Sánchez mentioned him in his book La isla de los hombres solos.

President Otilio Ulate Blanco ordered that he be taken out of that cell and placed with the other prisoners during a visit to the facility. During President José Figueres' administration the country's penal code was reformed limiting Costa Rica's maximum penalty to 30 years in prison. Since Cortés had already being incarcerated for 32 years at this point he was immediately released. He died of prostate cancer on June 11, 1984 at the age of 75 in his sister's house in Santa Bárbara.



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