LA RIOJA – On Thursday, 9-year-old Alex was lured from a park, and murdered in the town of Lardero. An investigation into the alleged murderer, 54-year-old Francisco Javier Almeida is ongoing.
As more information becomes available on that tragic evening and the events leading up to it, locals are outraged.
Almeida had been released from prison on parole after being convicted of the rape and murder of a local estate agent he had become obsessed with. Prior to this, he was served 7 years in prison for sexual assault.
He watched from the window
According to local reports, the third-floor apartment he chose to live in was “strategically chosen”. Moreover, from his window, he had good views of the Villa Patro play park and school. Furthermore, he was often seen in the park on his own or looking out from his window. One of the parents told press that her daughter took a photo of him at his window on her mobile phone. The girl had told her parents that he tried to take her and a friend from the park. When it was discovered Alex had gone missing, the girl immediately suspected the man in the window who had tried to lure her away by asking her to “go up to his house to help him clean a cage of beautiful birds”.
Alone in the park
Parents in the area told local media they had suspected him of wrongdoing for several weeks. However, although they were suspicious of seeing him alone in the park, he wasn´t doing anything wrong simply by sitting on a park bench. Although sometimes he would get up and walk behind some girls as they left the park.
It could have been anyone´s child
People in the small town of just 11,000 inhabitants are shocked and saddened. It could have been anyone´s child!
On the evening of the disappearance, Alex had been dressed up for Hallowe’en as a girl from The Exorcist. The Guardia Civil took statements from the numerous witnesses there at the time.
Gonzalo, the uncle of Alex, told police, “everything happened in a matter of seconds”. A girl who the man had previously tried to lure away, alerted the adults.
The mother of one of the children, Susana Torres, told reporters that after this alert, her husband went up to the alleged murderer´s apartment and knocked on the door. But when it was opened, they saw a man with Alex in his arms. The man told him he had “fainted”. Once they realised he was still alive, they tried to revive him.
The Guardia Civil arrived and continued their efforts, but to no avail. Alex had died.
Prison does not rehabilitate
According to Spanish newspaper, El Independiente, Natalia Rodríguez, the social worker and professor of a postgraduate degree in Gender Violence at the UR advised “the system does not make people who commit crimes reinsert themselves”. She was referring to the fact that the detainee had already been convicted of the murder of a real estate agent in 1998. She continued, “I wonder what function the prison does.”
“Violence against children and women is atrocious, it is very serious and although there is now a national law with more protection, it is necessary that the police protection and judicial means act urgently and immediately because, in this case, there was already a warning.”
In memory of Alex
Parents and children have been laying white flowers at the Villa Patro park in memory of Alex.