The song of the birds on the third floor of number 5 Río Linares de Lardero street (La Rioja) is so powerful that it can sometimes be heard from the landing. The 54-year-old man who lived there is a deaf man. Inside his house the bed is unmade, there are several liters of beer on the living room table and the floor is not swept, as can be seen in the video of the police arrest last Thursday, as this man is the suspect of having killed a neighborhood child after kidnapping him in a park. The tenant of this apartment will not live here again. He bought the beer that he took home at Súper Trébol, a neighborhood grocery store that is across from his house and is run by Óscar (“he took a lot, and only occasionally bread”). He drank bottles of Alhambra in the Anayet bar, where Eduardo and Joana attended him: “One day he decided to quit smoking and left all the lighters he had on the bar,” they say. “He had the appearance of a poor man, a bit ragged and abandoned,” says Óscar of him. “The first impression he gave was one of pity, of a pitiful, marginal man,” says María, a neighbor on his street whom he came across from time to time.
He also had an IQ of 122 (medium high) – this was revealed in the murder trial in which he was convicted in 2000 – he studied music theory and wore glasses, and his ragged and lanky appearance earned him at some point the nickname of Mortadelo, although in prison he was simply Almeida or El Sordo. Before entering prison, where he has spent half of his life, he was a guard for a security company (now he counted, the few people he related to, that he worked in a cleaning company that had a disability quota) . He was surly and distant in long distances, talkative and deceitful in short distances, say those who treated him on a day-to-day basis. When he was a sworn guard he met a boy who remembers him “weird, clever, the kind of guy who you suspect that something is not going well, very borderline”; One day he told him – he did not know whether to believe it – that his father used to beat him when he was little.
It is known about that father – it has been published in the local press – that he ended up committing suicide; the mother died about 15 years ago. It is known that they had two children. And that one of them, Francisco Javier Almeida, has birds at home not because he hears their song but because, according to some parents in the neighborhood, he invites the girls he observes obsessively in the park and at the school gate to know them.
Last Thursday at dusk, when it got dark, he changed tactics and approached Alex, a nine-year-old boy wearing a Halloween costume wig whom he mistook for a girl, and took him home, where he allegedly suffocated him , with another tetra: he invited him to meet his pet, a puppy. Everything happened so fast that a crowd began to search for him in a rush until they crowded into portal number 5, where the adult and the child had entered. Two days later, devastated in front of a café con leche, Alejandra, a resident of Lardero, says: “We were outside the portal while the boy, that man and the police were inside. We saw the mobile ICU arrive and how they took out a stretcher to put it in the building, we saw the empty stretcher return. And people exploded ”. They tried to tear down the police cordon to lynch him. They desperately asked for justice with their own hands.
What was happening inside? Carlota Marín is Carmen’s mother and Susana is Yanire’s mother, two seven-year-old girls who were approached by Almeida two weeks ago. “I wanted to show him his colorful birds that he had at home,” says Marín. Susana’s husband, a man named Héctor, was one of those who set out on Thursday night to search for the alleged murderer. He entered number 5 and found, on a landing, Almeida with the child in her arms calling the elevator. “Are you looking for this child? I found him passed out, ”Almeida said. The Local Police were already there, and Héctor pointed to Almeida, according to Carlota Marín told this newspaper: “I shit on God, and isn’t that the murderer?” The agents, to avoid the lynching of Almeida right there, dissuaded him: “It’s not him, it’s a roommate.” But neither did anyone know who exactly he was, nor what he had done in the past.
“What I’m about to tell is very unpleasant, I say it for the women here, whom I respect a lot.” Thus, on March 27, 2000, Francisco Javier Almeida, when he was 33 years old, pleaded guilty to the murder of the real estate agent María del Carmen López, 26. The newspaper gave a detailed account of the trial. The Rioja. On August 17, 1998, the two had arranged a second visit to a flat on Vélez de Guevara street in Logroño (the first had the objective, for Almeida, of preparing the crime). When they got to the bedroom, the defendant said at trial, “I wanted to do something with her and even more wearing a miniskirt.” According to the sentence, upon entering, he threw her violently on the bed and began to make superficial cuts on her neck, back and face, and two seriously, one of them severing her windpipe. Then he removed, still struggling, her underwear to force her sexually. He made a few more cuts and then plunged the razor into his heart. “I have a conscience,” he declared. “An instinct that I cannot control, something superior, takes hold of me.” A study on his personality clarified: “He is a normal person who knows what he does and when he does it is because he wants to.”
Nine years earlier, on October 5, 1989, Francisco Javier Almeida, then 24, met a 13-year-old neighbor of hers on the street and told her that her mother was ill to get her to accompany him home. Once inside, he tied the girl on a chair while uttering obscene expressions and wrapped a rope around her neck until she lost consciousness while he, according to the sentence, ejaculated. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Shortly after leaving he committed the so-called ‘crime of the real estate’, the murder of María del Carmen López. He was granted conditional freedom in April 2020, and a year and a half later he has been arrested for the alleged murder of a child in this quiet and peaceful neighborhood on the outskirts of Logroño, an old mountain and wasteland, in which there are barely three bars. , a beauty salon, a park, a school, two small shops and a civic center.
Early on Friday morning, under a violent rain, a white van appeared in Lardero and a man got out with four pots full of white flowers. He left them in the center of the Entrerríos square, which has a few games in which Álex had fun with other children on Thursday. Throughout Saturday people have been approaching in silence and in tears with their children to leave those flowers in the park and in the portal where the child was strangled. Those flowers are confused between bouquets, messages and children’s drawings of Alex’s friends and schoolmates that make the hair stand on end. The boy did not live in Lardero but in Logroño, where he studied at the Sagrado Corazón school, but he came a lot because a friendly family has a picnic area here where they usually celebrate parties like this week, to which Alex arrived disguised as a girl from the movie The Exorcist. And that, looking like a girl, attracted – according to the researchers’ hypothesis – the lethal presence of a predator convicted in recent decades of sexual violence and murder.
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