The Disappearance of David Guerrero Guevara, A Child Artist

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David Guerrero Guevara was a 13-year-old child painter who disappeared after leaving his house in Malaga, Spain in April 1987.

Although only 13-years-old, David Guerrero Guevara was already a particularly skilled painter. He lived in Malaga, Spain with his parents and two brothers. David was a shy and introverted boy; he didn’t like going outside, and only ever went to school and his art academy.  According to his mother Antonia, David had no friends, didn’t like going to places alone, and always rode the bus with his brother to the academy.

On April 3, 1987, David took part in a religious art exhibition at the prestigious La Maison art gallery. David’s painting, a portrait of Jesus entitled “Christ of the Good Death,” attracted a good amount of publicity because of his young age. On April 6, David was scheduled to meet a local radio host for an interview at La Maison after he got out of school. David was very nervous about the interview, and according to a classmate, complained about having stomach pain and a headache. 

At 6:00 PM, David came home from school, changed his clothes, and left for his interview a half-hour later. David’s father José originally planned to drive him to the gallery, but something came up at his job and David was forced to take the bus by himself instead. After the interview was over, David would go to his art academy and then get picked up by his dad. He left home that evening carrying his bus card and a bag of art supplies.

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David and his painting, “Christ of the Good Death.”

Three hours later, at 9 PM, José arrived at the art academy to take David home. David wasn’t at the academy, however, and José discovered at La Maison that his son never showed up for the interview. When José found that David wasn’t at home either, he drove to the police station and reported his son missing.

The police found David’s disappearance baffling. The bus station was only 10-15 minutes away from his house, yet none of the bus drivers in the area picked him up. Queen Sofia, the wife of the then-current Spanish king, was also in Malaga that day for a special visit, so there were tons of people on the street during the time. Yet nobody reported seeing David at the bus station, and the authorities were skeptical that a stranger could have forced the boy into a car unnoticed.

So where did the “Boy Artist,” as the media nicknamed him, go? The police wondered if he might have run away from home, but David’s family was very skeptical of the idea. After all, David was very close to his family, and he had little connections outside of it. Still, investigators pursed the runaway theory, speculating that David might have left for Portugal to become a bohemian artist. Eventually, a pair of Spanish policemen who searched in Lisbon found no trace of David there. Although there were some sightings of David in the country, including by a pair of Spanish teachers, the police believed the eyewitnesses were mistaken.

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One of the last pictures David drew before his disappearance. The police believed it bore a resemblance to a Swiss suspect.

In 1988, more than a year after David’s disappearance, a Malaga hotel maid approached the authorities and claimed to have found a strange clue in one of the hotel rooms she cleaned. Somebody had written David’s full name on a napkin. When the police reviewed the room’s guests, they found that a 70-year-old Swiss citizen had been the man who rented it during the time of David’s disappearance. This man has never been named in the media, but he was wealthy and interested in photography. He had stayed in several different local hotels between March and April 1987, and he also owned an apartment in a near-by beach town.

By the time the authorities began to investigate this man, he was already dead. In 1990, the man’s widow gave the Spanish police permission to search the deceased’s photography studio. They found plenty of pictures taken in Malaga, but none of them contained David. Some have doubted whether this Swiss man had anything to do with David’s disappearance, yet one of the last drawings David had done was of an old man who bore a strong resemblance to the suspect. Over the years, David Guerrero Guevara has been spotted everywhere from Ireland to Morocco. His case is still open, and authorities are keeping a DNA sample from his family in case they can ever match it to any unidentified bodies that are found.

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. 

 

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