The Disappearance of Rivalino Mafra da Silva: Alien Abduction or Foul Play?


Depiction of Rivalino Mafra da Silva’s abduction on an Italian magazine.

Rivalino Mafra da Silva was a Brazilian diamond prospector who lived in Diamantino, a town in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Rivalino’s wife had died in 1961, and he raised his three sons Raimundo (12-years-old), Fatimo (6-years-old), and Dirceu (2-years-old) by himself in a shack. On August 19, 1962, the family was woken up during the middle of the night by a shadow in their shared bedroom. According to Raimundo, the shadow was “half the size of a man and not shaped like a human being.” It quietly moved through the room, looked over the Mafras, and then left their house. 

After the shadow left, the Mafras heard voices and footsteps coming from outside. One of the voices said, “This seems to be Rivalino,” and then Rivalino jumped out of bed and went into the living-room. He asked the voices who they were, but they refused to identify themselves. They told Rivalino that they were going to kill him. Eventually, the voices stopped and seemed to have left, but the Mafras couldn’t sleep after this incident. They were so scared that they prayed all night.

In the morning, while fetching his dad’s horse, Raimundo saw two ball-like objects hovering in the air near the family shack. One of the objects was entirely black in color, the other was black and white. Both objects had antennae and tail-like appendages. They also made humming noises, and flashes of light or fire came out from their backs.

Raimundo shouted for his father, and when Rivalino came outside, the two objects combined into one ball and released a yellow smoke. The smoke covered Rivalino and filled the air with a terrible odor. When the smoke cleared a minute later, Rivalino and the ball-like object were gone. Raimundo looked all over for his father, but couldn’t find him. He ran to the local police station and reported what happened. When the police searched the Mafras’ shack, they found drops of human blood, although it couldn’t be determined whether it belonged to Rivalino.


Drawing by Raimundo of the objects he saw.

Naturally, the authorities didn’t buy Raimundo’s incredible story. They suspected that he killed his father, or perhaps was covering up for the murderer. Joao Antunes de Oliveira, a psychiatrist, thought that Raimundo was perfectly sane. He seemed to truly believe that he saw a ball-like object abduct his father. The police didn’t buy it though. In a cruel trick, they covered a (still living) volunteer with a sheet and told Raimundo that it was Rivalino’s dead body. Raimundo still refused to take back his account. In tears, he insisted that the story was true and that the ball must have returned his father.

While some believed the boy, other residents sided with the police. Elagmano Marques da Costa, a businessman in the area, thought Mafra ran off and abandoned his sons. One popular rumor suggested that he was murdered. Perhaps Raimundo saw the shadows and voices of the murderers, but hallucinated the rest of the incident due to shock. While he might have been deemed sane, Raimundo wasn’t in the best of health. He was badly malnourished, illiterate, and couldn’t even read a clock. Interestingly, Raimundo related the same story over and over. His account is said to have never changed, perhaps confirming the psychiatrists’ observation that he believed what he saw. (Or, if you will, the veracity of Raimundo’s testimony.)

Five days after his father’s disappearance, Raimundo gave an interview to the press. The next day, an article about the story appeared in the newspaper Diario de Minas. A Rio de Janiero-based paper, Tribuna da Imprensa, covered the case on August 29. In a September article for The A.P.R.O Bulletin entitled “Man Kidnapped by Globes,” Olavo T. Fontes translated Raimundo’s press interview, the first report of the case in English-speaking media. Many other articles and books, as listed here, have since covered Rivalino Mafra da Silva’s disappearance, but with distortions and inaccuracies.

One common piece of apocrypha, missing from the earliest sources, concerns alien dwarves.  Slightly before Rivalino’s disappearance, two of his co-workers are said to have seen a pair of three foot-tall beings while walking past his house. The dwarves were digging a hole, and when spotted, ran into the bushes. A red UFO then emerged from the hiding spot and took off into the sky. Others claim that it was Rivalino himself who saw the dwarves.

Many English sources also neglect the fact that Rivalino’s body might possibly have been found. In October 1963, A Estrela Polar reported that a group of hunters found bones near Rivalino’s house in “a place of difficult access.” Due to the belt that was found with the remains, along with the location, the body was identified as Rivalino’s. Of course, some have questioned whether the bones really were Rivalino’s, but this was enough to (partly) satisfy the foul play theory. To my knowledge, however, nobody could come up with the names of the murderers.  Whatever exactly happened to the Mafra boys after their father’s disappearance is also obscure; Raimundo is said to have died in 2001, and the whereabouts of Fatimo and Dirceu are unknown.





The Strange Death of Wilma Montesi

(No, I haven’t become the victim of an unsolved murder. I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had much time to write any new posts. If you’re getting very desperate (and impatient) for your Bizarre and Grotesque fix, you can always check out my two latest books: “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries” and “20 Unsolved Mysteries of Japan.” In case you prefer freer things, however,  here’s my sole post for June.)


Wilma Montesi was a 20-year-old Italian woman who was found dead on a beach near Rome under mysterious circumstances.

On April 11, 1953, a laborer having breakfast on Italy’s Torvaianica Beach found the body of a young woman lying lifeless on the shore. The body was identified as that of Wilma Montesi, a 20-year-old Roman woman who was last seen on April 9. Wilma’s clothes were soaked. She was also missing her shoes, garter belt, and stockings. Theories ranged from Wilma accidentally drowning to taking her own life.

The evening Wilma disappeared, her mother and sister Wanda had gone to see a movie. Wilma was invited to come along, but said she would probably go for a walk instead. Despite leaving behind a precious piece of jewelry that she always wore, Wilma never returned home that night. Witnesses claimed to see her riding a train from Rome to Ostia, while a man who sold postcards reported talking to a woman who looked like Wilma near a beach in Ostia. Wilma was engaged to be married soon, and the salesman said the woman bought a postcard for her boyfriend.

As the authorities pieced things together, it seemed that Wilma’s death was an accident. Wilma sometimes suffered from a pain in her heels, which she would try to ease by dipping her feet in water. While in the water, Wilma must have fallen unconscious and then drowned. Her body was carried by the currents to the beach in Torvaiancia, where she was eventually found by the laborer. The contents of her stomach showed nothing unusual in her body, and there were no signs indicating she had been the victim of violence either.


A picture of Wilma Montesi’s body. She was found lying in this position.

The police were satisfied with the accident theory, but the press insisted there was something more to the story. An article in the paper Roma, published in the May 4th edition, theorized that Wilma was murdered and the true cause of her death was being covered up. The next day, another newspaper article claimed that a man had turned Wilma’s missing clothes into the police. This unidentified man was eventually revealed to the public as Piero Piccioni, a jazz musician and son of Attilio Piccioni, the foreign minister and a big shot in the country’s Christian Democrats party.

Needless to say, Piero Piccioni was outraged by the accusation. He sued Marco Sforza, the journalist who leaked to the public that Piccioni was the unidentified man. Sforza agreed to take back the accusation, and the whole scandal eventually died down and was forgotten over the summer.

This was not, however, the end of the story. On October 6, 1953, a reporter named Silvano Muto revived interest in the case when he published an article that alleged Wilma Montesi had lived a secret double life. According to an actress named Andriana Concetta Bisaccia, Wilma took part in a wild drug-filled orgy with members of the Roman elite. When Wilma overdosed on some drugs, the party-goers dumped her body onto the beach in Torvaianica. The authorities came up with the accident theory to protect the orgy participants, one of whom was said to be Piero Piccioni.


Piero Piccioni, a man accused of being involved in Wilma Montesi’s death.

Like Marco Sforza before him, Muto was sued and eventually retracted his accusations. His source, the actress who attended the orgy with Wilma, denied everything in the article. Another actress, however, soon came forward and confirmed what Bisaccia said. Maria Augusta Moneta Caglio Bessier d’Istria reported that Wilma was an old mistress of Ugo Montagna, the man suing Sforza and the owner of the place where the orgy was alleged to have taken place. Maria wrote up a memorandum that confirmed the findings in Muto’s article, and this document was then given to an Italian official who suspended the trial against Muto.

On March 26, 1954, the investigation of Wilma’s death was re-opened. The Christian Democrats claimed the scandal was nothing but a conspiracy orchestrated by their political enemies, but the ensuing controversy eventually led to Attilio Piccioni’s resignation from his post. Piero Piccioni and Ugo Montagna were then arrested, and a Roman superintendent of the police was also taken into custody for his involvement in the cover-up. Piccioni went to trial for manslaughter and drug use, while Montagna was accused of helping him get rid of Wilma’s body.

While the press might have been calling for Piero Piccioni’s blood, the Montesis thought the man was innocent. They maintained that their daughter was a good middle-class girl, the last person in the world to be involved with drugs and casual sex. There was a side to Wilma, however, that her family didn’t want known to the public. She liked to smoke cigarettes and stay out late, behavior considered shocking for a young woman of the time. She also frequently fought with her mother, sometimes violently. As the case went on, the theory of Wilma dying from a drug overdose at an aristocratic orgy was not as far-fetched as it first seemed.

On May 28, 1957, Piero Piccioni and Ugo Montagna were deemed innocent of their charges and acquitted. Montagna denied having ever known Wilma Montesi, while Alida Valli, a popular movie star, provided Piccioni with an alibi during the time of Wilma’s death. As far as the authorities were concerned, the accidental drowning theory was still correct. Yet what about the testimony of Bisaccia and Bessier d’Istria? Was there truly a cover-up that extended all the way to a leader of the Christian Democrats? Was Wilma Montesi really as clean as her family claimed she was? Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the young woman’s death will never properly be explained.


Did CIA Agents Kill Hollywood Screenwriter Gary DeVore?


Picture of Gary DeVore and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the early hours of June 28, 1997, Gary DeVore, a Hollywood screenwriter best-remembered for penning the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Raw Deal,” disappeared while driving home from his friend’s house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the time of his disappearance, DeVore was working on a remake of the 1949 movie “The Big Steal,” a film noir about the hunt for a thief who deliberately disappeared in Mexico. DeVore wasn’t aiming for a modernized update, but a complete overhaul involving the American invasion of Panama in 1989.

Officially, the American government’s justifications for the invasion was to protect American citizens, defend Panama’s democratic system from dictator Manuel Noriega,and crackdown on the country’s drug trafficking. The invasion lasted little more than a month, and Noriega was ultimately deposed and then convicted for drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the U.S.

While conducting research for his script, however, DeVore became convinced that there were more ulterior reasons for the invasion. According to one researcher, as reported by The Daily Mail, “… the film may have implied the invasion was nothing more than a diversion that would allow the US into Panama to steal back incriminating photos of senior US officials that Noriega could have used as blackmail.”


Mugshot of Panamanian General Manuel Noriega.

The embarrassing pictures the government was so anxious to retrieve were allegedly taken during wild booze and drug-filled sex parties organized by Noriega. These parties were said to have gone on for years, and were attended by CIA agents and Congress representatives. Noriega’s purpose in organizing the parties was to secretly film American officials and create sex tapes that could be used to blackmail them. (Note: This rumor about Noriega’s secret sex tapes first surfaced in the short-lived “Sunday Correspondent,” in an article that was published two months before the U.S. invaded Panama.)

The night he disappeared, DeVore last talked to his wife on the phone around 1:15 AM,  as he was driving to their home in Santa Barbara, California. Wendy tried calling her husband three times earlier, but his phone only rang and went unanswered. When DeVore called Wendy back 15 minutes later, he acted strangely and told his wife not to wait for him to come home. Despite being three or so hours away, near the town of Barstow, DeVore never made it home. The authorities searched all over his route, yet the screenwriter never materialized.

Worried by his behavior on the phone, Wendy was afraid that DeVore had been abducted. She strongly felt that somebody else was in the car when she talked to him at 1:15. DeVore’s publicist, on the other hand, thought that he left for Panama with the help of a CIA friend. Others suspected that DeVore committed suicide due to financial problems and dissatisfaction with his career. Over the next year, Wendy would organize many more searches and even put out a $100,000 reward to locate her husband, but it was eventually an amateur detective named Douglas Crawford who would find DeVore’s remains.

Crawford had nothing to do with Wendy DeVore or the investigation, but he believed Gary DeVore probably fell asleep at the wheel, drove off the road, and drowned in the California Aqueduct. Amazingly, Crawford’s theory was right, and DeVore’s Ford Explorer turned up submerged in the canal. His decomposed body was found in the driver’s seat, secured with the seat belt. The laptop DeVore had carried the night he drove off the road was never recovered. It contained the latest draft of “The Big Steal,” which he had worked on while in New Mexico. His gun, which he kept in his car, was also missing. DeVore’s autopsy came back inconclusive, but the authorities were convinced that Crawford’s accident theory was correct. Other people, like DeVore’s widow, suspected foul play or CIA involvement.


DeVore’s car being recovered from the California Aqueduct.

In recent years, thanks to the release of a 2014 documentary entitled “The Writer with No Hands,” public interest in DeVore’s bizarre death has resurfaced. The movie’s title is a reference to the claim that DeVore was missing his hands when he was found, a detail not mentioned in any of the newspaper articles I read from the time when DeVore’s body was discovered. According to The Daily Mail article I quoted earlier, the coroner who looked over DeVore concluded that the hands he was found with weren’t actually his. In fact, they were estimated to be over 200 years old!

With this weird little tidbit in mind, conspiracy theorists have argued that DeVore was murdered by the CIA because his new movie was going to leak a bunch of classified information about the Panama invasion. Letting Hollywood shoot the movie, so the story goes, would have been a threat to national security. Before his death, DeVore was allegedly very close with some members of the CIA, and regularly received phone calls from them. He even allegedly traveled to Panama with CIA agents.

This is all very juicy stuff, but none of these last few details have ever been covered or verified by a reputable mainstream source. The CIA does, in fact, have some connections with Hollywood.  Since 1996, the agency’s “entertainment industry liaison” officers have worked to help and influence the movie industry. This influence might be limited to fact-checking or encouraging movie-makers to portray the CIA in a positive light, although some believe the agency’s scope goes far beyond just these activities. Interestingly, DeVore’s CIA friend, Chase Brandon, was an entertainment industry liaison officer.

As it stands, Gary DeVore’s death remains solved, and his CIA relationship flimsy. Currently, the police files that deal with his death are classified and unavailable even to Wendy DeVore. Perhaps, should they ever be released, the many rumors surrounding DeVore’s death will end up confirmed or debunked. For the time being, anybody interested in pursuing the conspiracy angle should check out “The Writer with No Hands” or its accompanying book.





Ochate: Aliens, Epidemics, and a Possible Hoaxer


The ruins of Ochate.

According to legend, the little Spanish village of Ochate was struck by three different epidemics in a period of only ten years. The village suffered a deadly outbreak of smallpox in 1860, and the population was further devastated after being hit by typhus in 1864. A final attack of cholera in 1870 encouraged the last few survivors to leave Ochate for good. Amazingly, none of the other villages in the area were touched by the epidemics. Only the people of Ochate were affected.

Ochate, a Basque word meaning “secret door,” has sat in ruins ever since. A variety of different paranormal activity is said to haunt the place, from ghostly voices that shout for visitors to leave and “close the door” to mysterious lights and passing UFOs. As infamous as the place is today, it was relatively obscure until the magazine “Unknown World” published a picture of a UFO taken above the village in 1981. The photographer, a bank employee named Prudencio Muguruza,  later wrote a popular article about Ochate and its legends three months later in the same magazine.


Prudencio Muguruza’s picture on the cover of “Unknown World.” (The article about the story translates to “UFO in Treviño.”)

Nobody’s quite sure about the meaning of Ochate’s name, but some paranormal enthusiasts believe the village is a “door” to another dimension.  In 1868, four years after the typhus epidemic, a local priest named Antonio Villegas vanished without a trace. About a century later, in the early 1970s, a farmer passing through the area also inexplicably disappeared. In August 1978, a man named Angel Resines saw a white light emerge from Ochate and break into three other lights. As he hid in his shed, Resines watched the lights fly into some mountains and disappear.

In 1987, a researcher pursuing the dimension gateway theory committed suicide while conducting a group investigation in Ochate. Why the researcher decided to do it here isn’t particularly clear, but he apparently killed himself in his car by carbon monoxide poisoning. The man’s ghost is now said to haunt the town. Later that year, another investigator named Mikel Colmenero claimed to have seen two human-like beings dressed in black suits and standing at least ten feet tall. Colmenero watched the creatures pass by in his car, so terribly frightened that he couldn’t bring himself to move.


Another picture of some ruins in Ochate.

Other paranormal researchers who have investigated Ochate have run into nothing out of the ordinary. Some believe there’s nothing supernatural about the town at all. There aren’t any historical records, for example, that can verify the mysterious epidemics that destroyed Ochate in the 19th century. One skeptic, Enrique Echazarra, traced an 80-year-old man who lived in the town before the Spanish Civil War. Echazarra said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC that the man “was very surprised at what was said about his town. He said that there had never been any witches, ghosts, or UFOs.”

It seems that Ochate was only abandoned during the first three or so decades of the 20th century. By the early 1930s, the population had fallen to only four inhabitants. Prudencio Muguruza, the man who popularized Ochate, has been accused of making stories up and faking his UFO picture. In 2014, Muguruza published a book about Ochate in which he claimed that aliens became stranded in the village in the 13th century. Some of the aliens died and were buried in an Ochate cemetery, while the survivors were eventually saved by a UFO that rescued them 34 years later. Alternatively, Muguruza also reported an even stranger second theory, in which the aliens fought the Templars.

Luis Alfonso Gámez, a journalist and blogger, has accused Muguruza of making a living off exploiting believers’ naivety. After popularizing his UFO picture, Muguruza sold the negative and quit his job. He opened a bookstore, made media appearances as a ufologist, and later dabbled in parapsychology. Of course, other people have reported seeing strange things in Ochate, and they haven’t made a living off it. Perhaps these witnesses really do believe they encountered ghosts, lights, and UFOs. Personally, I’d say they misunderstood natural phenomena and tried reapplying local legends to make sense of what they saw. (Muguruza’s picture, for the record, is believed to be a cloud.)

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. 

The Macastre Murders


In January 1989, Rosario Gayete Moedra, her boyfriend Francisco Valeriano Flores Sanchez and their friend Pilar Ruiz Barriga were murdered under mysterious circumstances in Macastre, Spain.

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. 


The Murder of Mark Kilroy


Mark Kilroy was an American college student who disappeared in Mexico during spring break in 1989.

Today’s post is a guest article by Andrew Orillion.

In Texas, many universities celebrate Spring Break at the same time, a tradition known as “Texas Week”. Mark Kilroy, a pre-med student from the University of Texas, was just one of thousands of college students from across the state to take part in the annual tradition. On Friday, March 10, 1989, Mark and three friends; Bradley Moore, Bill Huddelston and Brent Martin, piled into Bradley’s Mustang to begin the nine hour drive to South Padre Island, Texas.

They arrived at the popular Spring Break destination Saturday morning and wasted no time joining in the festivities. They sunned themselves on the beach, drank heavily and partied. Mark even chatted up one of the contestants of the Miss Tan Line competition.

The next night the three friends headed for Matamoros, a popular Mexican tourist destination just across the border from Brownsville. They spent the next two days traveling back and forth, always parking on the American side of the border. Monday night the streets of Matamoros was jammed with an estimated 15,000 Spring Break revelers.

Mark, Bradley, Bill and Brent partied and drank until around 2 a.m. when the group decided to head back across the bridge to Brownsville. As they approached a local bar called Garcia’s, Bradley ran ahead to relieve himself behind a tree. When Bradley finished, he looked around for Mark, but his friend was gone.

Bradley, Bill and Brent spent the next few hours searching for Mark, but he was nowhere to be found. They returned to South Padre Island, expecting Mark to show up with a bad hangover, a missing wallet and no memory of the previous night. But, Mark never returned and for the next month police on both sides of the border chased down multiple leads to no avail. It was as if Mark Kilroy had vanished into thin air.

Mark Kilroy, and the gruesome circumstances of his death, might never have come to light had it not been for a careless drug runner named Serafin Hernandez Garcia. On the night of April 9th, Serafin, a nephew of local gangster and drug smuggler Elio Hernandez Rivera, ran a police road block and was arrested.


Elio Hernandez Rivera.

A few days later Mexican Authorities raided Rancho Santa Elena, a property owned by the Hernandez family and discovered about 30 kilos of marijuana. But, it’s what was found in shed out back that chilled the Federal Authorities to their bones and finally answered the mystery of what happened to Mark Kilroy.

Inside the shed was an altar straight out a horror film; white and black candles, strings of garlic, a blood splattered machete and four iron cauldrons filled with blood and viscera from animals and humans.

The Hernandez family and their smugglers had been practicing a form of Palo Mayombe an Afro-Caribbean religion similar to Santeria. But, instead of using animal parts and bones, Palo Mayombe required human body parts and in some cases human sacrifice. Mark Kilroy had been one of these sacrifices.

A care taker at the Ranch identified Mark from a photo and remembered seeing him hand cuffed in the back of an SUV. The care taker showed police Kilroy’s burial site. In all, 14 bodies were dug up on the Ranch. Most had been mutilated, some had been burned and one had had its heart removed.


Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the leader of the cult.

The cult was led by Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a fugitive from Cuba. Constanzo had been a practitioner of “black magic” for years and was called “El Padrino“, Godfather, by the members of the cult. The cult included Serafin, his uncle Elio, Elio’s girlfriend Sara Aldrete and various members of the smuggling operation. Elio had been ordained an executioner priest by Constanzo.

Most of the victims were killed by either strangulation or having their throats slit. Internal organs, including testicles, were then boiled in one of the cauldrons. The brew was consumed by men of the smuggling operation in the belief that it would give them supernatural powers that would help them elude the authorities which is why Serafin had run the police roadblock leading to his arrest.


One of the cauldrons used by the cult.

Mark was specifically abducted because Constanzo wanted to execute an American college student. Three men from the cult confessed to kidnapping Mark in Matamoras and taking him to the ranch. They also revealed that Mark was able to briefly escape before being recaptured. Mark had been killed only 12 hours after the kidnapping. Unlike most of the other sacrifices, Mark had been killed by a blow to the back of the neck from a machete. His brain and spine had been removed and some of his vertebra had been used as talismans by the drug smugglers.

Three weeks after the raid on Rancho Santa Elena, Constanzo was killed by one of his own followers in order to avoid capture during a police raid in Mexico City. The members of the cult talked openly of what they had done and showed no remorse for the 14 men, women and children they had slaughtered to gain their supposed supernatural powers.

While Constanzo’s cult is long gone, whispers persist that the cult was far more wide spread than just the members of the Hernandez family and their drug smugglers. High ranking Mexican government officials were rumored to have also been involved, though nothing has ever been proven.

Shortly after the case was closed the murder shack and its blood-soaked altar on Rancho Santa Elena was ritually cleansed by a native shaman before police burned it to the ground.

Andrew Orillion is a former journalist and photographer for the U.S. Army. He is currently working on an MFA in Screenwriting and was a writer on the comedy web series L.A. Beer

The Mysterious Montserrat Mountain of Spain


Montserrat Mountain.

Montserrat is a mountain near Barcelona, Spain that’s long been regarded a sacred and magical place. In 880, it was said that a light floated down the mountains for six Saturdays in a row. When a search party headed by a bishop went to investigate, they found that the light fell on a previously undiscovered cave. Inside the cave, completely intact, was a statue of the Virgin Mary allegedly made in 50 AD. The statue soon attracted pilgrims and monks, and a monastery was eventually established in the mountain. Nicknamed “The Black Madonna,” the figure is venerated as the patron saint of Catalonia.

During the Nazi-era, German occultists believed that the holy grail rested somewhere inside Montserrat. In October 1940, Heinrich Himmler was sent to Spain to meet with Francisco Franco. Aside from being the commander of the SS, Himmler was also a founder of the Ahnenerbe, a pseudoscientific organization that launched expeditions across the world to find holy artifacts and evidence of ancient Aryan civilizations. Before meeting Franco, Himmler made a trip to the monastery in Montserrat. Himmler suspected that the holy grail was in the mountain, but the monastery received him coldly, and he returned to Germany empty-handed.


The Black Madonna. The current statue might actually be a copy made in the late 12th century.

In recent decades, Montserrat has become a hotspot for seeing UFOs and strange lights in the sky. The mountain’s also been the site of some pretty strange disappearances over the years, some of which involved paranormal and UFO enthusiasts. In 1973, the Civil Guard (Spain’s national police force) found the body of a badly decomposed woman in the area. In a note in her pocket, the woman had written that she was going to meet with the supreme being. Her death was ruled a suicide.

In 1980, a month after a man and his dog vanished in the Montserrat, an 18-year-old girl named Gloria went missing in the near-by municipality of Olesa de Montserrat. Two days after her disappearance, Gloria was found walking in the woods, confused and disoriented. She had never shown such behavior before, but was apparently interested in UFOs and communicating with aliens. After being rescued, Gloria disappeared for a second time and was never seen again.


Inside of the Montserrat monastery.

Another woman, Amparo Vielda Puig, went missing in Montserrat in 1985. Puig had gone to the mountain several times before, and complained of getting dizzy in certain spots of the area. In December 1990, a man named Carlos Teixidor told his family that he had “a decisive judgement with God and the Devil” and left for Montserrat. Teixidor was also interested in UFOs, and might have gone to the mountain in the hope of seeing one. Three weeks after he left, Teixidor’s body showed up near the Santa Cueva, the hillside cave where The Black Madonna was found.

In a case with a happier ending, a search helicopter was sent to look for a lost hiker. The helicopter was able to locate the hiker, but the man it found actually turned out to be a completely different person. The man said that he had been lost for three days, but was also with a “black woman” he had slept with. The only woman in the area the rescuers ended up finding was the corpse of a lady who had gone missing years earlier.

Nobody has gone missing in Montserrat since 1998, but UFOs are still seen in its skies. Luis Jose Grifol, a contactee who’s claimed to have communicated with aliens for almost 40 years, goes to the mountain to watch for UFOs on the 11th day of every month.

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.