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A.K.A.: "The Psychopath from Alto Hospicio"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist
Number of victims: 14
Date of murders: 1998 - 2001
Date of arrest: October 4, 2001
Date of birth: July 15, 1963
Victims profile: Graciela Saravia (17), Sara Gómez (18), Ornella Linares (14), Daysi Castro (16), Ivon Carrillo (15), Macarena Sánchez (14), Angélica Alcayata (24), Laura Zola (15), Catherine Arce (16), Patricia Palma (17), Macarena Montecinos (15), Viviana Garay (16), Angélica Palape (45) and Gisella Melgarejo (36)
Method of murder: Beating with rocks and other objects
Location: Alto Hospicio, Chile
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on February 26, 2004
photo gallery

Julio Pérez Silva

By Marta Morales

Pérez Silva Profile

He appeared to be kind and supportive, he didn't have any addictions and women liked him. He only seemed threatening when he played soccer: his strong way of playing helped him win the tshirt number "4" in the Iquique's Senior Team.

But due to his sad public crime records, Julio Pérez Silva, now called the psychopath from Alto Hospicio, turned into the most brutal serial killer in Chilean's modern history. In 1997, he lived in La Pampa, where nobody remembers a sign, not even a little one, that could have woken up mistrust. Not even his neighbor, Alicia Morena, who confirms that he was very loving with his couple, Nancy Duero, a municipal employee. They lived together.

"In April, my son got sick with hepatitis and the neighbor (Julio) gave him lunch while I was working. And when our TV got damaged, the kid went to watch television to his house." Alicia said.

He was always very quiet. Sometimes, Julio Pérez kneaded bread and shared some with people he knew. He liked talking about his three dogs: "el Nacho" a black dog that still walks around the neighborhood "la Duquesa" and the "Son", named by him like that because he loved him as one.

Raised in Puchuncaví

Alto Hospicio's murderer was seven when his father whipped his head against a wall for entering his room without asking. The boy was left there unconscious. His mother, paralyzed by fear, couldn't protect him. Elsa Silva used to get the worst part when alcohol produced violence outbursts in her husband. When his steps were heard in Puchuncaví's streets, everybody ran to hide in the tchochkes at the garden. They only returned when they heard the man snoring.

When they grew up, they didn't run away anymore but stayed there to protect their mother. But Julio little could do. He was the fifth out of six brothers, too small to face the alcoholic father. His dad was also called Julio Pérez. He worked for ENAMI in Ventanas for many years, but his constant absences due to drunkenness caused his dismissal. He had to search for work at the sown fields, as a day laborer.

He died of cancer. In North, his son Julio, had already started to kill.

Alto Hospicio's psychopath never really talked about personal matters, very few people knew he grew up in Puchuncaví (Quinta Región), where he studied until eighth grade. He also left a wife there, plus two children and rumors about flasher behaviors and rape attempts that were never reported.

Some of his limited topics of conversation were cars. After arriving in Alto Hospicio, he worked as a construction worker and bought a metallic grey Nissan. Subsequently, he worked in a salt processor, where he is remembered as a quiet man. After a while, he changed the Nissan for a white Toyota Corolla. Both vehicles are now confiscated. Lots of witnesses affirm that he had talked about his wish of buying a van, so it could be useful to transport himself during his irons and weldings sporadic works. But he was unemployed and since mid August his only earnings depended on his fake taxi car.

Besides his dogs, his only pastime was soccer, he always played as a right defender. He first played in "El Esfuerzo" club, and later in the Senior Team of Iquique. He was even nominated to represent the city in a championship during 1999. "He didn't speak much, but was good at kicking." An ex teammate said. "One day he appeared with his hair dyed and we all made jokes about it." Alexis Moreira said, another ex teammate in "El Esfuerzo".

Two sellers from a close fair remember he was always wearing jeans and white tight tshirts, his hair was neatly combed and impeccable. "We joked about his good looking but he was indifferent." One of them says. In other occasions, they saw him in his car, parked in a corner for hours, hidden, or driving to La Pampa, listening to ranchera music. None of his teammates suspected his hair changes were to hide his appearance. The tenants from the fair, neither supposed that his trips to the descampado (open space, freed of trees) had anything to do with the disappearance of six students and a young woman in Alto Hospicio.


In September 16, 1998, he picked Graciela Saravia, 17 years old, at Iquique's coastal. In his confession, he said he offered her money for sex. Everything was fine until she tried to rob him. Infuriated, Julio hit her until she was dead. The corpse was left abandoned at the beach.

In November 24, 1999, Macarena Sánchez, 14 years old, walked out her house off to School Liceo Eleuterio Ramírez. She was in eighth grade. At that time a person, in a white car, probably a clandestine taxi, proposed her to drive her to school for a few coins. Since the bus routes were irregular in the town, the young girl was afraid of getting late to school and accepted.

She was never seen alive again.

The same happened to Laura Zola Henríquez, 15 years old, in March 23, 2000; Catherine Arce Rivera, 16, in April 5, later to Patricia Palma, 17, in May 22, in June 2 it happened to Macarena Montecinos, 15, and finally, in June 20, to Viviana Garay Moe, 16 years old.

Attacks acquainted later:

Sara Gómez Cuevas, in February 21, 2000; Angélica Lay Alcayata, in February 24, 2000; Ornella Linares Cepeda, in April, 1999; Angélica Palape Castro, in August 23, 2001; Daysi Castro Mamani, in May, 2001; Gisella Melgarejo Navarro, in February, 2000; and Ivon Carillo Lefno, in August, 1999.

The parents of the girls reported the disappearances in the Alto Hospicio police station. But months went by and nobody helped with clues about their possible whereabouts. The first hypothesis the authorities considered, as it is revealed in Carabineros' report in September 2000, was that they had escaped due to a bad relationship between parents and daughters, mainly motivated for possible domestic violence which would be added to extreme poverty families faced in the region of Alto Hospicio. But the hypothesis was dropped. Parents always denied that there were ill treatments at all, and they proved it after searching for their daughters, tirelessly, during two years.

The second hypothesis considered, consisted in a possible case of white slaves in neighbor countries such as Perú and Bolivia. The possibility of a prostitution ring that abducted underage teenagers led the Chilean police and some of the girls families to investigate many brothels near the area looking for some trace, but they got nowhere. The time was still pressing and in view of police investigations' lack of success, a direct intervention was solicited to the President Ricardo Lagos, so he could speed inquiries up. After the request, he assigned a Special Police Commission to exclusively take charge of the search for the missing girls, though the authorities refused to call a prosecutor that could investigate the case because they still considered it more like a social problem than a police matter.

It may be surprising that after all the coincidences they didn't think it could be a serial homicide case, or at least some sort of premeditated kidnappings. All of the missing teenagers were between 14 and 17 years old, all the girls went to the same school, all of them had long dark hair and they all disappeared in a period of seven months. At least those signs seemed to point out to somebody that picked their victims depending on some concrete characteristics. Only in September, 2001, one year and nine months after the first disappearance, Carabineros wrote a report saying that the disappearances could be linked with an assassination case:

"A criminal event it is possibly related to a psychopathic modus operandi, which acquires more vigor as the underage girls are yet not found and we have not received signs of any of them. It must be considered the participation of one or more persons and that the disappearances may belong to a series of assassinations."

Only two weeks later, the report was confirmed.

In Thursday 9, October, Bárbara Núñez Barrios, 13 years old, went to the Alto Hospicio's substation with symptoms of have been brutally hit. She reported to the police that a man in a white car had picked her up from her home to be drove to school, but in the middle of the road he had turned away, and drove her to the outskirts of town, threatening her with a knife. Then he raped her. Afterwards, he hit her until he thought she was dead. And later, he threw her into a fifty metres mine shaft, approximately 20 km away from Iquique. She laid there unconscious for about five hours, until she made her way out and reached the town by her own resources.


With the description the girl provided of her aggressor, Julio Pérez Silva, 38 years old, was arrested. He was the owner of a cross country white Toyota. He didn't have penal records. Since he was arrested there are neighbors who defended him saying they never observed a strange behavior, other said that they knew about his flasher actions and that he might have raped two students some years ago in his native town, Puchuncaví, but that was never proven.

The accused was immutable when he got arrested. Later, in the substation he kept the police officers who interrogated him, playing a psychological game that showed not only his coldness, but the security he had in his actions, very common attitude in a psychopath. In a first instance he denied the charges.

In the cell, however, the OS7 (Police Drug Department) decided to break his resistance with a technique of sleep's systematic interruptions, waking him up every thirty minutes. That way he would reach his point of stress and talk. Next day, after the insistence and the agents' hard method of questioning, his position changed and turned defiant. However, during the day he assumed the violation and homicide attempt of the 13 year old. Not yet satisfied, Carabineros continued the interrogation during the next two days until he revealed where the other dead bodies of the rest of the girls he had kidnapped remained. Actually, one of the strongest traits about the murderer that has captured policemen attention, is the extreme coldness in his recounts about the murder of the girls. "A la flacuchenta la dejé por allá" (The slender one is over there), "esa otra está en el pique" (the other one is in the mine shaft).

He never cried, nor he mentioned anything about having regrets. He never said he was sorry. And when police asked him why he had done it, he said he didn't know. "If nobody suspected about him, it's because he broke all parameters of criminal prototype." Policeman said.

A total of seven bodies, that turned out to be the missing girls, besides the corpse of Angelica Lay Alcayata, a 24 year old mother that was missing from her home since February 24, 2000, were found.

Murder method

In accordance with the first expert report and his own confession, Pérez Silva methodically chose his victims, based on sort of a repetitive pattern: they had to be skinny, brunette and, almost all of them, had long hair. He watched them for days before taking the decision and acted. His trap was to offer to take them home or school, as a fake taxi, for a few coins.

When the girls entered to his vehicle he threatened them with a knife and drove them to the surroundings of Alto Hospicio. Before raping the girls, he beat them. Then, once their feet and hands were tied up, he repeatedly knocked them in the head until death. Finally, he covered them with bags and threw them to clandestine rubbish dumps or abandoned mine shafts. Almost all of the girls showed an application of brutal violence orientated to cause them death. In fact, many bodies exhibited its skull damaged, as well as rib fractures. On the other hand, their extremities only showed less serious injuries, mostly caused by ties.


He confessed the murders, indicated the places where the bodies were and never alleged dementia.

He was incriminated for 14 first degree murders, 2 violations and a frustrated attempt of assassination.

His voice was recognized by Maritza Díaz and the DNA test was conclusive. Maritza, 16 years old, in April, 2001, had been raped by Julio Pérez but had escaped. She didn't get to see his face, but the biological tests taken after the violation were saved and registered. The DNA matched with Bárbara Núñez sample.

In February 26, 2004, he was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison that he would have to accomplish in Arica's high security jail.

The defense appealed, but the Court did not agree and he was finally sentenced to life imprisonment. (Equal to 40 uninterrupted years with no benefits, which is the maximum according to the Chilean Law.)

Suicide attempt

In January 19, 2005, Julio Pérez Silva almost died. He hanged himself with a shoelace coiled to his neck and used a toothbrush to tight the knot. Policemen reaction saved him after noticing what had happened fifteen minutes later, when he was hiding his face with a sheet, resting in his bunk. He was hospitalized for cerebral hypoxia (lack of air). From that day on, his therapies were intensified and his security increased. He even has cameras in his cell to prevent a second suicide attempt.

In January 12, 2011, he was transferred to jail Colina I, located in Santiago, where he is currently serving his sentence.

Victims summary

Between September 1998 and October, 2001, Pérez murdered:

Graciela Saravia (17), Sara Gómez (18), Ornella Linares (14), Daysi Castro (16), Ivon Carrillo (15), Macarena Sánchez (14), Angélica Alcayata (24), Laura Zola (15), Catherine Arce (16), Patricia Palma (17), Macarena Montecinos (15), Viviana Garay (16), Angélica Palape (45) and Gisella Melgarejo (36).


El Mercurio
La Tercera
Radio Cooperativa

Marta Morales -



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