Now, authorities drilling into the ground beneath the house of a man they have only identified as “Andrés” say they have turned up thousands of human bone fragments, prosecutors told The Washington Post in a statement. In all, the bodies appear to belong to at least 17 victims — and authorities have said they could find more as they widen their search.
“Given the evidence and the findings in this place, the possibility of finding the remains of other victims is not excluded,” prosecutors said last month.
With other evidence in the man’s house indicating he targeted female victims, the case has been tied to Latin America’s ongoing crisis of femicides, the murder of women and girls because of their gender. Last year, Mexico recorded 969 femicides, an average of more than two per day. Last month, police in El Salvador found a mass grave in the backyard of a former police officer and said they suspect him of attacking women.
The case against Andrés began on May 15, when a local police commander, who knew him, suspected something was off when his wife never returned home from a shopping trip the man was supposed to accompany her on, according to El Universal. So, he obtained surveillance footage that showed his wife was last seen near Andrés’s home. The police commander knocked on the man’s door, confronted him and eventually found his wife’s dismembered body inside the home, El Universal reported. (Authorities have yet to disclose the woman’s name.)
Police say the woman was killed using a butcher’s hacksaw and knives and that her body was carved up into pieces.
Investigators said they found a trove of evidence in the home suggesting other women may have been killed, dismembered and buried inside. Among the evidence was multiple pairs of women’s shoes, clothing, bags, jewelry, makeup, nail polish, as well as a hair dryer.
Investigators also found a stack of voter IDs, notebooks containing people’s names, cellphones, and VHS tapes — suggesting he may have recorded his victims, prosecutors told The Post.
On May 17, police began excavating his home. Forensic experts sporting white hazmat suits, firefighters and police drilled into its concrete floors with the help of a jackhammer and a crane, while sniffing dogs patrolled the ground.
“I do not deny it. I blame myself as well,” he told the judge. “I’ve done it. Well, it’s done. There’s the husband, and well, he saw it.”
A judge tied him to the killing of the 34-year-old woman and ordered he remain in jail as a “preventive measure,” according to a May 20 statement. The judge also gave authorities three months to complete the investigation.
For weeks, the team excavating his home collected more and more bones and analyzed DNA samples to attempt to put a name to the fragments.
During the weekend, authorities revealed they have so far found 3,787 bone fragments, authorities told The Post.
“The bones fragments are being subjected to ‘lateralization’ studies, which include carefully cleaning each one, identifying what part of the body they are and then placing them in their anatomical position, providing a method for determining the approximate number of victims,” prosecutors told The Post.
Authorities said they would soon begin digging in other rooms that he rented out on the property in search of more bone fragments.