One of most prolific serial killers of all time who ‘murdered 350’ still missing
The location of one of the world's most prolific serial killers remains a mystery – 43 years after his horrific crimes were committed.
Child murderer and rapist Pedro Lopez, known as "The Monster of the Andes", targeted young girls between the ages of 8 and 12 in Colombia in the 1970s.
He was arrested in 1980 and convicted of killing 110 people, but confessed to the murder of as many as 350 – and has been linked to at least one other killing following his release.
Lopez said he was killing three young girls a week in his native country, Preu and Ecuador at the height of his depraved spree of serial killings.
He had started his murderous spree in 1969 following a stint in prison for car theft.
His first attack was on two men who he claimed had raped him while he was in prison.
Lopez killed his attackers with a makeshift knife, getting a taste for blood which would see him take hundreds more victims.
But following his first killing, Lopez began seeking out young girls, usually from poor backgrounds.
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Devious Lopez would pose as a salesman who was lost and needed help, then lure away unsuspecting children
He abducted and raped them, then strangled them to death.
In 1980 he confessed his crimes to the police who refused to believe him until a flash flood unearthed a mass grave of many of his victims.
Following his arrest, he admitted Ecuadorian youngsters were his favourites because they were "more gentle and trusting, more innocent".
The University of New Mexico's Dirk Gibson, who wrote about Lopez in his book Serial Killers Around the World: The Global Dimensions of Serial Murder, told 9News: "It was believed those children were human trafficked, stolen or sold on the market, or that they ran away.
"Often local law enforcement suspected serial killers last."
Witnesses say depraved Lopez seemed to think what he’d done was "normal".
Officer Rothman Rios said: "It was weird, he remembered everything. And descriptions of all the girls.
"He knew where their bodies were. He was satisfied showing us the bodies. He felt no remorse, no guilt, no nothing."
During his trial, he told the judge he "felt like God" when he killed people.
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"When one dies, one totally loses his emotions, his vision, his ability to see," he said.
"In death, you can forget who you are, everything you did is now darkness."
The sick killer then told police that he wanted to be remembered in the history books for his gruesome crimes, admitting: "I am the worst of the worst – maybe a complete animal. But I’m too young to die."
"He’d never had any recognition in this world," a psychiatrist who worked on the case explains.
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"This was his way to get noticed. And part of him thought he was saving the girls from a life of poverty. He called them his 'dolls' and felt he was saving them.
"He did not consciously know right from wrong, and he did not feel guilty."
The judge found Lopez guilty but declared he was clinically insane and he was sentenced to spend 16 years in a psychiatric hospital – the maximum sentence for murder in Ecuador at the time.
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Even though he was believed to be one of the most prolific serial killers of the 20th century, he was released for "good behaviour" in 1998.
According to the BBC, Lopez was "freed by the government in Ecuador at the end of ".
The outlet says: "In an interview from his prison cell, he described himself as 'the man of the century' and said he was being released for 'good behaviour'.
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Lopez is still free and is believed to be connected to a murder in 2002.
A warrant was issued in 2002 for Lopez's arrest in connection with the brutal killing that police linked him to, but he remains at large.
And even his mother believes he is still alive.
Speaking in 2019, she said: "When someone dies, you feel a shock. And I still haven’t felt it."
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