On January 19, 1989, a farmer in the small town of Macastre, Spain went into his shed and found the corpse of a teenage girl lying in his bed. The girl was identified as 15-year-old Rosario Gayete Moedra, who had left her home five days earlier to go on a camping trip with her friend Pilar Ruiz Barriga (also 15) and boyfriend Francisco Valeriano Flores Sanchez (14). The three teens were from Valencia, and had a history of doing drugs and getting into trouble. Nobody had seen them since the day they went camping.
According to Rosario’s autopsy, she had died from cardiac arrest, probably triggered by a drug overdose of something. The authorities speculated that Rosario and her friends stayed in the shed to escape the cold weather. While resting in the shed, Rosario took an untraceable drug and overdosed. Francisco and Pilar then ran out of the cabin, either looking for help or fleeing the scene. The Civil Guard, Spain’s national police force, launched a search looking for them.
On January 27, a woman found an amputated foot in a waste container in Valencia. The police suspected it belonged to one of the missing Macastre teens. On April 8, Francisco’s body turned up in some bushes located less than a mile from where Rosario was found. His autopsy was inconclusive, but he might have died from the same untraceable drug Rosario took. (Note: Some sites claim that Francisco was badly beaten and shot, but I’m not sure whether that’s a rumor or not. I’ve also read that his body might have appeared after the Civil Guard searched the area. It’d be quite shocking if they missed Francisco during their initial search.)
On May 24, a group of children passing by a river in near-by Turis discovered the body of a mutilated young woman. The corpse, which seemed to be between 15 and 17 years of age, had its missing right hand and left foot cut off by a chainsaw. The face was too disfigured to tell who it was, but investigators eventually ruled that the body was Pilar’s. Pilar’s family, however, refused to accept that the body was hers. They pointed out that the body had a scar which Pilar didn’t have, and insisted that she was still missing.
In 1999, the case took another strange turn when some skeletal remains were found in Macastre. A DNA test of the remains with Pilar’s sister showed a match. Whether the body found in Turis was really Pilar’s is still up for debate, but the discovery in May 1989 shifted the focus of the case into a murder investigation. Francisco and Rosario might have been intentionally poisoned. A few days before Rosario’s body was found, witnesses reported seeing her and her friends at a local bar in Macastre.
Macastre, interestingly, is an hour away from where the teens planned to camp. It seems that somebody must have given them a ride. This person might have taken them to the bar, and then led them to the shed where Rosario was found. Whether voluntarily or by force, Francisco and Rosario died after ingesting something lethal or poisonous. Pilar presumably tried to escape, but was killed and dismembered. According to the teens’ autopsies, all three of them died between January 16-17, 1989.
There is still a lot of interest in this case today, but the authorities have yet to uncover any big leads or suspects. Some armchair sleuths have suggested a connection to the Alcasser Murders, an incident in 1992 in which three teenage girls were brutally raped and murdered near Valencia. While their murderers were officially caught, one of the men escaped and is still on the run. The investigation was filled with a countless number of problems and unanswered questions, however, and there are a bunch of conspiracy theories that claim the girls were killed for a snuff film or Satanic ritual.
Check out my book “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries: True Stories of Ghosts, Monsters, and UFOs from South of the Border” for more interesting mysteries of the Spanish-speaking world. You can buy the book on Kindle here.