The World's Most Bizarre Murders

The World's Most Bizarre Murders

by James Marrison


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844549757
Publisher: John Blake Publishing, Limited
Publication date: 07/14/2010
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

James Marrison is a contributor to Bizarre magazine.

Read an Excerpt

The World's Most Bizarre Murders

True Stories that will Shock and Amaze You

By James Marrison

John Blake Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2010 James Marrison
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84454-975-7



Did child-killer Santos Godino's 'odd' features offer a clue about why he liked to torture toddlers and slaughter infants?

While there have been many cases of children who kill, perhaps none has been as instinctively savage and ferocious as that of Santos Godino. The sixth of seven children, Godino was born on 31 October 1896 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Deformed at birth, with saucer-sized ears, a short body and overly long arms and legs, he soon became known as the local neighbourhood freak, dubbed 'el Petisu Orejudo', or 'the short big-eared one'.

Godino grew up in the neighbourhood of Parque Patricios. Today, this is a pleasant enough locale of Buenos Aires; trees line the streets among the fairly modest high-rise tenements. A hundred years ago, however, it was a poverty-stricken slum and home to an enormous slaughterhouse; four whole blocks of it were cut off each day as the cattle were driven in and killed on the streets, in plain view of the local residents.

As if the sight of blood and the sound of screaming cattle weren't bad enough in the morning, at night the whole of the city's waste was brought to Parque Patricios, and then burned. Since most of the houses there were made out of salvaged junk, it went by the name of 'the city of tin' or 'the bonfire'; the neighbourhood stank of stale blood and burning rubbish. The majority of people who lived there were Spanish or Italian immigrants who had come to Argentina looking for a new life and found themselves working at starvation wages in the local slaughterhouse. In short, it was the kind of place that would swallow you whole in around five seconds flat if you didn't know your way around. Perhaps nobody would come to know the streets of Parque Patricios better than Argentina's first and most notorious serial killer.

As his home life was utterly dismal, Godino spent most of his time trying to avoid it. School didn't provide much escape: expelled almost instantly from every institution he ever attended, from the age of ten he took to wandering the streets, returning home only when hunger drove him to it. His father had been drunk for as long as Godino could remember and frequently beat his wife and kids senseless. But Godino, uncontrollable from the start, came in for special attention and his father frequently thrashed him around the head with a belt buckle. By the time he was 16, he had 27 scars on his head to prove it.

Most people regarded him as a slightly demented but harmless local pest; in fact, behind his somewhat vacant gaze, Godino was a fairly resourceful killer. At the age of seven, he was busy torturing to death every animal he could get his little hands on, and then keeping them under his bed in a box. What's more, on his daily jaunts about town, he was single-mindedly luring children to abandoned houses and wastelands and murdering them.

It took him a while to get it right.

When he was seven, he beat up 17-month-old Miguel de Paoli and then threw him into a razor-sharp thorn bush, but was spotted by a policeman who had seen the small boy crying and rushed over to see what was happening. The resourceful Santos began caressing the boy, told the policeman he had found him in the bush and insisted that he take him back to his mother. When he got back with the child, he was rewarded with some sweets.

Godino wasn't the brightest boy in the world, but he had a cunning streak. Of the 11 times he tried to kill, he was interrupted five times by nearby adults or police but managed to talk his way out of it every time. Even when he was taken to the police station (which happened three times), his age worked in his favour and he was released soon afterwards. Moreover, in most cases his victims were too young to even talk.

A year after trying to kill De Paoli, he hospitalised toddler Ana Neri for six months after trying to cave her head in with a rock. Believing the girl dead, he found the girl's father and told him that he had found her lying on the ground and that she had fallen over. Shortly after that, he claimed his first fatality. He was never able to remember her name properly and her body was never discovered but he did remember later that she was too young to walk so he had carried her to an abandoned patch of land – where he buried her alive in a ditch.

It was March 1906 and Santos Godino was nine years old.

In the same year, his father gave up on him and took him in to the local police station, complaining that his son was utterly indifferent to any kind of authority whatsoever. As well as hurling rocks at the neighbours and seriously injuring them, by now Godino was also attacking his brothers and sisters. His father told the police that, if they didn't take him into some kind of custody, he would 'kill the little bugger' himself. (He had, so legend has it, on that very morning found a dead bird in his boot – a present from Santos, no doubt.)

According to a statement signed by Francisco Laguarda, the head of the local police station, Godino's father Fiore walked into the station and filed official charges against his own son. The statement reads as follows: 'In the city of Buenos Aires on April 5 1906, a person appeared before me and identified himself as Fiore Godino, a 42-year-old Italian immigrant who has been living in Argentina for 18 years. During his testimony, Fiore Godino said that he had a son called Cayetano Santos who is an Argentine citizen by birth and who is nine years and five months old. Fiore Godino contends that his son is uncontrollable and rebellious and does not respond in any way at all to any discipline of any kind and so he formally requests that the police take charge of his son and place him in whatever institution they see fit and for as long as they see appropriate.'

Godino spent two months in the reform school but was soon back to his usual tricks – and some new ones. At the age of ten, he discovered the wonders of masturbation and started masturbating three times a day. Meanwhile, he continued to attack children.

In 1908, now 12 years old, he tried to burn a girl's eyes out of her sockets by setting light to her eyelashes and also tried to drown 22-month-old Severino González Caló in a water trough. Luckily, the farmer heard screaming and came to her aid. Santos blamed the crime on a short woman dressed in black, explaining that he had actually come to the little girl's assistance and – luckily – arrived just in time to save her.

After another two months had elapsed, his parents simply couldn't stand him any longer and put him into another, much tougher reform school; he would stay there for the next three years, until he was 15. It was on his release that his true reign of terror began.

Reform school had only made Godino worse. He had been able to escape out of there most nights anyway and, along with his only friend, had begun stealing watches and selling them to buy alcohol. He was soon drinking almost as much as his old man and had also discovered another new hobby.

Maybe it was the sight of the rubbish burning constantly on the horizon at night, but Godino was now unable to resist setting fire to something if it looked like it would go up in flames fast enough. Thief, murderer and now pyromaniac, he set alight a wine cellar – creating a conflagration that took firemen three hours to put out – a lumber mill, a shop, a tramway station and two warehouses.

By this time, even the tough residents of Parque Patricios were giving him a wide berth, but children, he soon discovered, could be easily lured away from their protective gaze with sweets. He had also begun carrying a homemade garrotte.

In 1912, he committed three murders. In January, he tempted 13-year-old Arturo Laurora to an empty house, tied him to the floor, removed his trousers and underpants and then strangled him to death. A month later, he crept up behind a five-year-old girl as she was looking in a shoe-shop window and set light to her dress, leaving her to die.

Just before Christmas, he encountered 18-month-year-old Jesualdo Giordano, asked the boy where the nearest sweetshop was; when the boy told him, Godino said he wanted to reward him for showing him the way. They went together to the sweetshop and Godino told the boy that he would walk him home. He then led him to an abandoned house.

As the boy didn't want to go into the house, Godino dragged him by his leg, stretched the boy out on the floor and tried to strangle him with a rope. But the boy kept on struggling, so Godino tied him up then decided to drive a nail through his skull. While looking for a nail, he left the building and ran into the boy's father who asked him if he had seen his son.

Godino told him that he had not, then helpfully suggested that he should go to the police station. He then went back into the house, finished the job and went home.

The boy's father, meanwhile, carried on looking. He looked all over the area until he entered an abandoned building and there, among the rubble and rubbish, was his son. At first, he thought he had found him hiding, and called his name but received no reply. He moved closer to the toddler, then, according to a report in Argentine tabloid La Razón, 'He took him in his arms and with desperation and grief started running with the boy to his house that was a short distance away. To begin with Giordano didn't realise that he was carrying a corpse in his arms, as the body was still warm but once inside his house and surrounded by his wife and neighbours it was confirmed that his son had been horribly murdered.'

That night, the boy's father held a wake for his son. Among those who attended it was Santos Godino, who approached the coffin and touched the skull, curious to know if the nail, which he had driven into the toddler's skull that morning, was still there. He didn't know it, but he was already under police surveillance. A girl who had been playing with Jesualdo when he had been abducted had clearly remembered his murderer and described him to police.

After the wake, Godino returned home for a while then went out to buy the evening edition of the local paper. As he was illiterate, he went to his friend's house and got him to read aloud an article about the murder, then tore it out and put it in his pocket. The press, who were having an absolute field day with the crime, were already hinting that an arrest was imminent, but that didn't bother Godino; he simply went home. He was drinking tea when police arrested him and took him in for questioning.

Using a very limited vocabulary, and with a soft, childlike way of expressing himself, Godino initially gave the impression of being utterly harmless and even vulnerable. Then he confessed to the murder.

As La Razón reported at the time, 'The subject said that the boy went with him to the store on Progreso and Jujuy where he bought two cents worth of sweets two of which he gave to the minor ... as the boy started to ask for his father he gave the boy three more sweets and so managed to get him as far as the corner of Catamarca and 15 November where he approached a deserted house.'

Then, with an empty expression, he calmly told police that he had killed another three children and tried to kill another seven. He complained to his interrogators that he suffered from terrible headaches and said that, while being in the grip of an overpowering urge to kill, besides the three murders he had committed that year, he had also lured two other girls from their homes and tried beating them to death – in the last week. He also confessed that he had tried to strangle two-year-old Roberto Russo to death in an abandoned house in November. According to police records, 'Godino confesses that he did all of it for fun and for entertainment, that it was purely the desire to kill that was the motivation to carry out his acts due to the fact that it gave him pleasure.'

And why not? He had been acting well within his rights, he told police. After all, plenty of other people did it too and, he added, 'It would really cheer me up to kill kids from the local hospital.' As well as confessing to all of his crimes against children and his frequent arson attacks, police records reveal that Godino also confessed to having stabbed a horse to death. 'As he recounts these incidents,' the official report reads, 'he does so with the utmost indifference affirming that he found pleasure in harming and killing animals. Indeed he shows not the slightest remorse for his acts, talks lucidly and shows satisfaction while recounting them. He says that he masturbates frequently and that he has had no dealings at all with women but that the sight of them he finds quite agreeable. He drinks strong alcohol on a regular basis and has done so ever since he was 12 when he started drinking four glasses of whisky per day. He has had little or no formal schooling. He is illiterate but is capable of signing his own name. He has a good memory. He has many interesting physical characteristics and would be an interesting subject for further study.'

La Razón also managed to interview Godino, shortly after his confession. 'Many mornings,' he told them 'after the usual moaning from my father and brothers and sisters I would leave my house with the idea of finding work and as I never found any I found myself feeling that I wanted to kill someone. So I would look for someone to kill. If I found some kid I would take him somewhere and strangle him.'

The journalist asked if he felt any remorse for his crimes. 'I felt some regret but only for a moment. Last night I went to Jesualdo's house and when I saw the boy in the box I felt like crying then I ran out of there because I was afraid.'

As Godino awaited trial, some of the most eminent doctors and physiatrists in the country examined him. One of their conclusions was that Godino was driven by an almost primeval animal instinct to kill. They declared that he felt absolutely no remorse for his crimes, was extremely dangerous and should spend the rest of his days in a lunatic asylum.

Some argued that his crimes were the result of systematic abuse, while others pointed to numerous physical and mental anomalies about the boy and argued that he was in fact mentally retarded. The two judges overseeing the case agreed that he had not been responsible for his actions and he was therefore transferred to the high-security wing of Las Mercedes hospital. There, his antics continued. Not only did Godino try to escape, but he also attacked a paralytic, tried to strangle one patient in his bed and put poison in another patient's tea.

Meanwhile, the police were trying to find the body of his first victim – the girl he told them that he had buried alive. Godino pointed out exactly where he had killed her, but by that time a two-storey building had been built on top of the site; neither the architect nor any of the builders had found any traces of a body. One detective took it upon himself to investigate all the reports of missing children in the area from March to April 1906, in his free time. He discovered that a three-year-old girl had been reported missing to authorities and had never been found. Her name was Maria Roca Face and she is now officially believed to have been Godino's first victim.

While at the insane asylum, Godino found himself adopted by one of the doctors as his pet project. The doctor was busy developing a crackpot theory – later to be resurrected by the Nazis – that certain physical characteristics could be linked to inborn moral depravity. And what better proof of this than Godino? (See Chapter Twenty-one: How to Spot a Natural Born Killer.) He paraded Godino in front of his students and the story goes that, as he recounted the despicable crimes carried out by the horror now standing before them, he pointed at his subject's big ears. Godino is reported to have said, 'Please excuse me, Doctor, for interrupting, but would you be so kind as to go fuck yourself.'


Excerpted from The World's Most Bizarre Murders by James Marrison. Copyright © 2010 James Marrison. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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