The Monsters Of Ecatepec
The Story of Two Of Mexico's Most Prolific Serial Killers
The gruesome story of the "Two Monsters of Ecatepec," also known as the "The Butchers of Ecatepec" shook Mexico to its core in 2018. Juan Carlos Hernández and Patricia Martínez, a couple in their 30s, were arrested on suspicion of murdering at least 20 women in the Ecatepec area over a period of six years. The investigation revealed a chilling pattern of kidnapping, sexual assault, torture, dismemberment, and cannibalism.
Backgrounds and Psychological Evaluations
Juan Carlos Hernández was born in 1985 in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, Mexico. He had a troubled childhood, being raised by a single mother who allegedly sexually abused him and dressed him as a girl. He suffered from a severe head injury when he fell from the second floor down the stairs at the age of ten.
He was severely abused by his mother as a child. She would dress him up as a girl, and he would watch her having sex with the men she brought home. She also also admitted to being sexually abused by a woman who was supposed to be babysitting him.
Throughout his life he was unable to hold find a career, holding jobs such as a waiter, garbage collector, and salesman. As a final attempt at work, he enlisted in the army for a brief period but soon deserted.
Patricia Martínez was born in 1980, also in Lázaro Cárdenas. She had a difficult childhood, at the age of 6, she was raped by her cousin and claimed she never felt loved as an adult. She would seek attention from men through submissive behavior and also resorted to prostitution at some point dropped out of school in the fifth grade and started working as a street vendor.
Psychological evaluations conducted on both suspects after their arrest revealed psychopathic traits. Hernández had a history of substance abuse and was diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder. Martínez was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder along with an IQ under 70, putting her as intellectually disabled.
The Unholy Alliance
The couple first crossed paths in 2008 at a restaurant in the State of Mexico, where Patricia worked as a waitress and Juan Carlos was a frequent patron known for his lavish spending. Despite Juan Carlos' claim of being a "hitman" for the local mafia, which may or may not have been true, Patricia chose to pursue a romantic relationship with him. They eventually moved in together to a neighborhood in Ecatepec and had four children. To make ends meet, they sold various items such as clothes, cell phones, and perfumes, as well as collected and sold aluminum to recycling centers. Despite their unusual means of income, they appeared to be a normal family to their neighbors.
Murders and Victims
Beginning in 2012 and continuing until their apprehension in 2018, the couple embarked on a murderous rampage. Their chosen targets were mostly young, vulnerable women who were either sex workers or struggling with drug addiction. They would entice these victims with offers of employment or housing, only to abduct and sexually assault them. The atrocities committed against the victims were unspeakable. Hernández and Martínez would torture and mutilate their captives before ultimately killing them. Their preferred method of murder involved the use of a hammer to bludgeon the victims to death. Once deceased, they would dismember the bodies and dispose of them in different areas around Ecatepec. Their horrific deeds extended beyond murder. The couple also partook in cannibalism, consuming the flesh of certain victims.
The couple's first victim was a 22-year-old woman who they lured to their home under the guise of a housekeeping job. Once inside, he led her to the bathroom, overpowered and raped her, and then proceeded to slit her throat while Patricia and their children waited outside. The killer then dismembered the body, stripped off the flesh, and cooked the meat which they consumed together.
Their second victim was a teenage neighbor who had a paint thinner addiction. They enticed her into their home with an offer of food and money. After Patricia tied her up, the killer brought her to the bathroom where he sexually assaulted and killed her by slitting her throat and cutting her body in half. Patricia waited in another room with their children while he committed the gruesome act. She even complained about the mess he made in the bathroom before making chili con carne with the flesh.
In 2015, the couple relocated to a different area and continued their killing spree
Their 3rd known victim was an elderly neighbor that they invited to the house. The proceeded to get the woman drunk, rape, slit her throat and dismembered as the previous victims. It’s even said that some of the victims were made into tamales.
Their 4th and 5th victims were a woman and her 10 year old daughter.
In their final known act, they targeted Nancy Noemí Huitrón, a 28-year-old mother who went missing with her 2-month-old baby on September 6, 2018. The couple lured her to their home under the guise of giving her clothes for her baby, but instead, they subjected her to the same brutal fate as their previous victims. They disposed of her remains in the freezer and shockingly sold the baby to a couple who were later arrested for a meager sum of $800.
In their twisted rituals, they would consume some of the flesh, occasionally sharing some with their pets. He would preserve certain hearts in alcohol to offer as sacrifices to Santa Muerte, the revered embodiment of death in Mexican folklore. The remains were kept in a freezer, strictly off-limits to their children, until they could dispose of them in empty plots of land, with the added possibility of selling bones and organs to fetishists and those involved in magic. Patricia admitted that he occasionally engaged in sexual activity with the corpses.
Investigation an Interrogation
The investigation into the multiple disappearances finally commenced after the police traced them to listings where women were promised baby clothes. After obtaining the location of their cellphones from records, a suspicious address where a couple who sold clothes lived was found. Following weeks of surveillance, they were arrested on the 4th of October, 2018 while walking down the street pushing a baby carriage. Shockingly, a human torso was found in the carriage. The couple was preventively detained, and on the 16th of October, the trial began.
A leaked video of Juan's interrogation caused brief outrage as family members feared it violated his human rights, which could lead to the trial's cancellation. However, the state prosecutor overruled the complaints, allowing the trial to continue. The situation was tense, and the public waited for justice to be served.
According to criminal psychologist Juan Pablo Ramírez Herrera, Hernandez suffered from a personality disorder and psychosis, likely stemming from a traumatic brain injury, past abuse, and drug use. Hernandez claimed to have an insatiable urge to kill, which caused him intense headaches until he satisfied the urge. He also claimed to have a demonic side and a need to drink human blood every three months.
Hernandez likened his relationship with Patricia to that of lions, where the female brings the male prey. He infamously stated, "Las maté por bonitas" ("I killed them because they were pretty"). However, the psychologist failed to mention that Hernandez had been married before and had a child. He loved his wife, but she left him and took the child. When Hernandez reported her disappearance to the police, they dismissed him and told him she probably left him for someone else. Hernandez was visibly emotional when he spoke about this during his interrogation, which was a rare moment of humanity from him. It is possible that this event triggered his killing spree, as he later stated, "If I can't be happy, no one else will be either."
According to the diagnosis, Patricia had a mental deficiency and the doctors believed that she participated in the crimes to keep Hernandez with her. The investigation revealed that she was an active participant in the crimes, and even chose some of the victims herself. At the time of her arrest, she had a list of 17 potential victims. Shockingly, she had killed at least two victims herself.
Despite her role in luring the victims to their deaths, Patricia claimed that the women had betrayed her by getting involved with her husband, justifying their murders.
She held the belief that single mothers were unfit and deserving of death due to their perceived tendency to neglect their children, arguing that it was immoral to deprive children of a father figure.
Conviction and Sentencing
On October 1, 2019, each of the murderers had been sentenced to 327 years in prison for eight counts of femicide, along with other crimes such as trafficking in persons for illegal adoptions and illegal burial of human remains. Two more sentences for femicide were later added, which increased their total sentences to over 400 years in prison.
The case of the "Two Monsters of Ecatepec" shook Mexico to its core and shed light on the epidemic of femicide and violence against women in the country. Even now, Ecatepec continues to have the highest rate of femicide in Mexico.