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Adolfo Constanzo was a serial killer in the 1980s, whose religious cult performed ritual murders. He evaded police until his 1989 assisted suicide.
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During this time, police believe Constanzo began to feed his cauldron with human offerings. According to their records, authorities say he and his cult were responsible for at least 23 ritual murders around Mexico City.
On April 30, 1987, Constanzo and his cult murdered seven members of the Calzada crime family after they denied the religious leader full partnership in their syndicate. The family was tortured and mutilated,
their body parts removed to feed Constanzo's cauldron. Police found the remains over the course of a week, but were unable to link the evidence to a suspect.
Buoyed by the killings, Constanzo expanded the cult's headquarters, moving 20 miles outside Matamoros to Rancho Santa Elena. At the ranch, Constanzo began a deeper involvement in the illegal drug trade, and pursued his ritualistic killings in earnest. That year, on May 28, 1988, Constanzo shot drug dealer Hector de la Fuente and a farmer named Moises Castillo. Dissatisfied with the sacrifices of the two men, he supervised the torture and dismemberment of Raul Paz Esquivel two months later, during a trip to Mexico City. The remains were dumped on a public street and found by local children.
A month later, after a two of his followers were kidnapped during a drug war, Constanzo sacrificed and tortured a stranger to death, chanting prayers for the safe release of his two cult members. In November of that same year, he sacrificed cult member Jorge Valente de Fierro Gomez after the man violated Constanzo's ban on drug use.
On Feburary 14, 1989, Constanzo had drug dealers Ezequiel Rodriguez Luna, Ruben Vela Garza, and Ernesto Rivas Diaz tortured to death at the ranch. Nine days later, the cult kidnapped another stranger, who they had to shoot in the ensuing struggle. Unable to complete their ritual, the cultists decided to find another victim. The group accidentally murdered the cousin of a cult member before realizing his identity.
Constanzo scheduled another ritual killing for March 13, 1989, in order to ensure the safe passage of a shipment of illegal drugs. The victim's suffering, however, wasn't sufficient for Constanzo. "They must die screaming," he insisted, telling the cult members that he wanted an American student for his next ritual. The group lured 21-year-old Mark Kilroy, an affluent American student, to their van. When the young man tried to escape, the group bludgeoned him in the back of the head with a machete. The group was elated by the sacrifice. Kilroy's death, however, would turn out to be a fatal error for Adolfo Constanzo.
The pressure on Mexican police to find Kilroy was immediate and intense. American officials kept a close eye on the case, and the victim's family offered a $15,000 reward for any information leading to their son's safe return. Matamoros police interrogated 127 known criminals about Kilroy's possible whereabouts. During their investigation, they stumbled onto drug dealer Serafin Hernandez Garcia, a frequent visitor to Constanza's ranch.
On April 1, 1989, after Garcia refused to stop at a police checkpoint, officers followed the petty criminal to Rancho Santa Elena.
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Combine a charismatic personality with fringe beliefs and an appetite for violence, and you get some of history's most notorious cult leaders. Charles Manson terrorized frightened Americans in the late 1960s, convincing his followers to commit heinous murders in his name. David Koresh led the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, leading to a standoff with the federal government in 1993 that resulted in the death of Koresh and 75 of his believers. Learn about these leaders, and many more, who inspired hundreds to follow their unconventional philosophies—often with tragic results.
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