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
"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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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
He was incriminated for 14 first degree
murders, 2 violations and a frustrated attempt of
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.)
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
Between September 1998 and October, 2001, Pérez
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).
Marta Morales - firstname.lastname@example.org