Over the weekend, we had house guests. And in a strange turn of events, got into a discussion about serial killers. Specifically, prolific serial killers. One of them brought up Daniel Camargo Barbosa, except none of us could remember his name. This was particularly weird for me, since Eric from D&R is sort of modeled off Barbosa.
To start with, let’s get the surprising details about Barbosa out of the way. He isn’t American, which is unusual since nearly 90% of all the world’s serial killers are American. He’s South American. Barbosa was born in Colombia, South America in 1930. Also, his first confirmed victim came in 1974, when he was 44… not the more common 25-40 year old age range when most serial killers get started. Could he have killed before 1974? I would say there is little doubt about it (it isn’t like he suffered a traumatic brain injury at 44 and woke up a serial killer – which has happened once that we know of).
I’ll also say, that Barbosa is a monster. He is definitely not as clean cut and “moral” as Eric. Barbosa liked little girls, and had been arrested for rape and child molestation (as well as tons of other crimes) long before he was arrested for murder. At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what Eric has in common with Barbosa… but, bear with me, we’ll get there. There’s some more you need to know about the justice systems in South American countries and Barbosa himself.
In 1974, Barbosa was arrested in Colombia for the murder of a teen girl. He was basically caught red-handed when he returned to the scene of the crime. He was suspected of having killed more than 80 females in Colombia at that time. However, he was only convicted of raping and killing a 9-year-old girl. And he was sentenced to the maximum term allowable in Colombia – 30 years. His sentence was eventually lowered to 25 years. In 1977, he escaped from the island prison of Gorgona, Colombia. He immediately fled to Ecuador.
It took 3 days for him to return to killing. In 1984, he was arrested in Ecuador on suspicion of raping and murdering another 9-year-old girl. After Barbosa was imprisoned in Ecuador, he turned his murderous impulses away from young girls and towards his fellow inmates. Between 1986 and his own murder in 1994, Barbosa would kill at least 30 inmates.
The maximum allowable sentence for Barbosa’s crimes, in Ecuador was life or 25 years, whichever came first (meaning if he lived more than 25 years, he would have been released). There was evidence to link him to 75 murders, including the prison murders. And his own killer was related to his crimes. Barbosa was killed by a relative of one his victims. However, his preference when murdering inmates, was to kill other murderers.