Saturday, November 27

“What are you doing with that child?”

“Have you seen a child, have you seen a child?” A desperate woman runs into Chester’s bar in Lardero (La Rioja) shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night. All the patrons of the place, located in a corner of the Entrerríos park, run out to look for the little one. They don’t know him. Álex, nine years old, lives in Logroño. His family celebrates a birthday less than 100 meters away in a low, a place they call ‘el Merendero’ owned by some friends.

A few minutes before Alex, disguised as the exorcist’s girl, and his six-year-old brother, dressed as a clown, run with dozens of children through the immense esplanade where more than

sixty windows, open to the urbanization and just 200 meters from number 5 of Río Linares street. Almost no one knows that a monster lives in that block: Francisco Javier Almeida López de Castro, 54 years old. Almeida has chosen that refuge, a modern rental apartment where most are passing through and no one asks, to hide his past as a rapist and murderer.

“Come, I’m going to show you a puppy,” he tells the boy who, tired of playing and teasing, has sat on a bench with his friend while it is time for dinner. The other children have already gone home. The entire park begins to run and move, the mother calls 112 as soon as Alex’s friend tells her that gone with the man who lives across the street, so close you can almost touch it.

They call another child, Rebecca’s son, 12, who is already at home and this to all those who were with him. Another girl friend from the neighborhood gives them the clue: she has gone with the man who calls them sometimes and tells them that he is going to show them his birds.

The Civil Guard and the local Police take less than 15 minutes to beat all the bells in block 5, while dozens of people search the corridors of block 7. On the second floor a neighbor answers. Come down to open us up, immediately. The man runs downstairs, but the agents have already entered. “Get into your apartment,” they order. He goes back upstairs and in the second he meets Patxi, as the monster is called.

“What are you doing with that child?”

“What are you doing with that child?” She asks when she sees him compulsively calling the elevator one floor below hers. “A friend brought it to me and I fainted”, the individual lets go without flinching. «My husband saw that her head was hanging down and there was a woman’s wig, colored, lying on the ground. He didn’t have time for more because the guards already pounced on him, ”says Yamiliana, who had to block Almeida a few weeks ago when he began to insinuate that they stay alone.

Neither she nor her husband (she had invited them both to dinner at her house) had any idea who this “nice, polite” man was with whom they sometimes hung out. ‘You don’t know who you live with. We are terrified. It could have happened to me, ”says Yamiliana. She never saw him with anyone. He told them that I worked in a cleaning company in which disabled employees are employed and she asked him for help to see if she could get into that job.

«He approached to talk to you because is he deaf or so he told me», Says Joanna, a waitress at the bar where Patxi stocked herself with bottles of beer. “He wears a hearing aid, actually, but I never noticed a strange look. It was clear that he had not had a good life. In a slip, they say, the monster confessed to a parishioner that he had been in jail for killing a woman, but that it was a long time ago (he was released on parole 18 months ago after serving 22 years in prison).

Among flowers and candles, of the improvised altar that the neighbors have erected next to the small playground in the center of the square, the mothers twist their faces and assure that Alex’s death it could have been avoided. “The boys here didn’t go near him because they knew he was calling the girls and he would stay in the tunnel looking at them for a long time,” says Michelle, behind the Chester bar from which you can see the entire square. But that little boy must not have known.

Carlota’s seven-year-old daughter experienced how a marauder approached her. There is no agreement as to whether it was Almeida or another young man with a disability who frequents the area and who, apparently, had also molested little girls. There is a complaint from the past day 25 but the physical description does not match. The Civil Guard had no evidence that the monster lived there. There is an address in Logroño. And even if they had had that direction, beyond intensifying surveillance, they couldn’t have done much more. There was no follow-up action against him, who has a three-year sentence ahead of him.

It was the children themselves who suspected

It’s six in the afternoon and the children have left the Entrerríos park. No one wants to get close to the cursed place where Almeida hunted his victim. Only adults do it, enraged and with the image of Álex’s parents in their heads.

On the other side of the door in the third D you can hear the birds singing. The monster’s claim. He is in a dungeon, cold, undaunted, according to those who have seen him. He has spent more than half of his life behind bars and his horizon is to spend the rest. It was the children themselves who were suspicious. Two babies took a selfie under their balcony. An ugly and impersonal place. They didn’t want a souvenir. They wanted to have the image of the individual who watched them while they were playing leaning out of their window.

Here, I quit smoking, she said to Joanna, the waitress two weeks ago, as she set eight or ten lighters on the bar. “I’m going to save because I have a debt and some problems.” In the garage of number 5 there is a brand new car parked that they say is his. The suspicion is that he was calling the elevator to go down to the floor minus one and put Álex’s body in the trunk. Researchers believe that he discovered that the little boy was not a girl when he was already I had put him in his apartment with tricks. Nobody understands it because they say that the boy was afraid of dogs. And the monsters.

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