Born on November 1, 1962, Adolfo Constanzo was a serial killer in the 1980s, whose religious cult performed ritual murders. In 1983, Constanzo traveled to Mexico City, where recruited his first disciples. After multiple killings, he managed to evade police by hiding out at his Mexico City ranch until a 1989 raid, during which he asked his fellow cult member to shoot him dead.
Early Religious Beliefs
Serial Killer. Born Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo in Miami, Florida, on November 1, 1962, to 15-year-old Cuban immigrant Delia Aurora Gonzalez del Valle. Constanzo was the oldest of three children, all of whom had different fathers.
At six months old, Gonzalez had her son blessed by a Haitian priest who observed "palo mayombe," an offshoot of mainstream West African religions. The practice, which involves drinking a liquid in which human bones have been boiled, is often used for casting spells of wealth or power. Gonzalez and her first husband believed their son was "a chosen one" who was "destined for great power."
Constanzo was still an infant when his father died, and he and his widowed mother moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Gonzalez soon remarried and had Constanzo baptized in the Catholic Church to please her second husband. Adolfo even served briefly as an altar boy.
Gonzalez and Constanzo kept their true faith a secret, often traveling to San Juan and Haiti for Constanzo's religious education. In 1972, the family returned to Miami, Florida. His stepfather died soon after, leaving Gonzalez with some money. His mother married yet again, this time to a man involved with the local drug trade and the occult.
Free to worship as he wished, Adolfo started an apprenticeship with a Haitian priest, who taught him the skills he needed to "profit from evil." Constanzo, now in his teens, cruised gay bars committing petty crimes and robbing graves to stock his priest's cauldron. By 1976, Constanzo believed he was developing psychic powers, supposedly predicting the 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan.
In early 1983, Constanzo pledged himself to Kadiempembe, his religion's version of Satan. That same year, Constanzo traveled to Mexico City, where recruited his first disciples: Martin Quintana Rodriguez and Omar Orea Ochoa. Constanzo seduced both Quintana and Orea, and a year later he moved in with them.
Adolfo started offering his fortune telling and ritual cleansing services to the community, and word of his "abilities" began to spread. He claimed to harness magical powers that would make gangsters and their bodyguards invisible to police, and bulletproof against their enemies. He also helped drug dealers schedule their shipments based on his premonitions. At the height of his career, Constanzo had more than 30 devoted clients, including illegal narcotics dealers, organized crime bosses, and high-ranking law enforcement officials.
By 1986 Constanzo had amassed considerable wealth; he was able to buy a fleet of luxury cars and a $60,000 condominium in Mexico City. 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.
Investigation and Death
On April 1, 1989, after Garcia refused to stop at a police checkpoint, officers followed the petty criminal to Rancho Santa Elena. After a quick search of the property revealed illegal narcotics, the police arrested Hernandez and another drug dealer, David Serna Valdez. In custody, Hernandez freely admitted to Kilroy's abduction and murder. He also confessed to participation in 14 other murders over a nine-month period.
On April 11, 1989, Hernandez took police to the ranch, unearthing the remains of 15 victims. One of the bodies was Mark Kilroy's—his brain was missing, and his body dismembered. Garcia told law enforcement officials about the group's religious leader, Adolfo Constanzo, and proudly described his involvement in the ritual sacrifices.
Constanzo had disappeared by this time, hiding out in the houses of various cult members, and making plans to flee Mexico. More and more of the cult's members were arrested until May 6, 1989. While police were going door-to-door on an unrelated case, they stumbled on Constanzo and four of his followers, two of whom were his lovers. He panicked and began shooting at police. Within moments, 180 policemen surrounded the apartment. The shootout lasted 45 minutes, with only one officer wounded.
When Constanzo realized he would not be able to escape, he ordered a follower to shoot him and his lover, Martin Quintana. By the time police entered the apartment, Constanzo and Quintana were dead.
The survivors of the shootout, along with 12 other cult members, were indicted on various charges, including multiple murder, weapons and narcotics violations, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. American authorities stand ready to prosecute the convicted cult members for Mark Kilroy's murder, should they ever be released from Mexican custody.
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