The Terrassa Double Suicide

Terrassa

José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés

I’d like to think chasing UFOs is generally a harmless hobby. If any of the stories at Bizarre and Grotesque are to be believed (and they shouldn’t be), then an obsession with aliens usually leads to extraterrestrial lovers, intergalactic vacations, and maybe, just maybe, a chance to hang out with a Venusian dog. Unfortunately, every now and then, some enthusiasts’ interest in UFOs becomes a dangerous influence. Case in point: José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés, two Spanish men who bonded over their love of UFOs and committed suicide in 1972.

Rodríguez was a 47-year-old father and textile worker who had turned his back on traditional religion. He practiced meditation and yoga, and personally knew two of the wackiest figures of ’70s Spain: Clemente Dominguez y Gomez, a Catholic visionary who claimed to be the legitimate pope, and Father Enrique Lopez Guerrero, a “UFO priest” who promoted the long-running UMMO hoax. Among UFO circles, Rodríguez’s nickname was “The Venusian,” and he told others that he had astral projections and telepathic conversations with aliens.

Turu, the younger of the pair by 26 years, was an accountant for the same company Rodríguez worked for. Some places on the web say that Turu was a member of CEI, a UFO research group in Barcelona that the paranoid Franco regime kept a close eye on, but this doesn’t appear to be true. Regardless, Turu was an equally passionate believer, and liked to investigate UFOs in his spare time.

Despite the age gap, Turu and Rodríguez quickly became friends. They had met through an advertisement Turu placed in a magazine in May 1972, looking for other people interested in UFOs. Not even a month later, on the morning of June 20, Rodríguez’s and Turu’s bodies were found decapitated along a railway near the Spanish city of Terrassa. The bodies were three meters (nearly ten feet) apart and had been torn apart by a train. Authorities ruled out foul play, and concluded that the two men committed suicide. In a coat pocket, the police found a simple note that laid out the dead men’s motivation: “The extraterrestrials call us; we belong to infinity.” It was signed “WKTS 88.”

A few days later, the ufologist Màrius Lleget received letters written by Rodríguez and Turu before they committed suicide. One of the letters was meant for the United Nations, but another was addressed to Lleget himself. In this farewell note of sorts, Rodríguez and Turu declared that they had made contact with aliens, and the aliens understood “that we are strangers on this planet.” The folks from outer space counted the two outsiders as friends, and called for them to come to Jupiter, where the closest alien base was located.

Of course, the UFO community in Spain was as disturbed as it was embarrassed. The mysterious deaths of José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés caused a scandal, surrounded by a countless number of questions and rumors. What the heck, for example, did “WKTRS 88” and “WKTS 88” mean? Furthermore, were any of the men’s UFO-watching buddies aware of the plan? Theories have popped up casting doubt on the police investigation of the case, speculating that Rodríguez and Turu had help with their plan, or even that their suicides were part of a Heaven’s Gate-like cult.

In an article for the Spanish-language site El Ojo Critico, the researchers Josep Guijarro and Manuel Carballal suggest that a third-party was involved with Rodríguez and Turu. They believe Turu might have had second doubts, or was involuntarily killed. They point out that Turu was young and engaged, and that the police investigated the case hastily because Rodríguez and Turu were just seen as crazy. Perhaps, however, he legitimately believed that killing himself would send him to Jupiter? That’s the interpretation film director Oscar Aibar went with anyway, when he dramatized Rodríguez’s and Turu’s story as Platillos Volantes (Flying Saucers). I haven’t seen the movie, but Aibar gives the audience a happy ending: Rodríguez and Turu, after killing themselves, happily find themselves on an alien planet.

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A Haunting on Fuencarral Street

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Diego de Torres Villarroel

It would probably be easier to tell you what the 18th century Spanish writer Diego de Torres Villarroel didn’t do. According to his highly picaresque autobiography, Torres did all sorts of different jobs, including working as a bullfighter, dancer, soldier, lock picker, astrologer, and math professor. He was also said to be a prophet, although his apparent predictions of the death of the Spanish King Louis I and the French Revolution were more vague coincidences than actual prophecies.

In 1723, after moving to Madrid, a poverty-stricken Torres was forced to work as a smuggler to get by. One day, Torres’ fortunes changed when a messenger from Josepha de Figueroa, the Countess of Arcos, paid him a visit. The messenger looked pale and sick, and explained that the Countess wanted Torres to come stay at her house. For the past three nights, the Countess’ home had been knocked by loud, unexplained noises.

The Countess was afraid that her house, which was located on Fuencarral Street, was being haunted by a duende. In Spanish folklore, duendes are creatures similar to goblins, tricksters who come into people’s homes to harass them and drive them crazy with loud noises. (Our demented friends from The House of the Lions, the follets, are technically a Catalan variety of duende.)

Torres was skeptical about the story, but agreed to investigate the haunting. When he arrived at the Countess’ house, he found the servants pale and quiet, and the Countess terrified. That night, they all banded together and slept in the same bedroom, Torres included.

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A Brief History of a Satanic Armchair

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La sillon del Diablo, or “The Devil’s Armchair,” is a cursed chair that’s said to kill anybody who sits in it. 

The Museo de Valladolid is a museum in the Spanish city of Valladolid that divides its collection into two sections, archaeology and fine arts. Among the museum’s collection, which spans the history of the city, you can find Roman coins, Renaissance-era paintings, and a 16th century chair associated with the Devil. “The Devil’s Armchair,” as this wicked piece of furniture is known, is said to be cursed.

According to legend, the chair’s original owner was Andres de Proaza, a 22-year-old student of Portuguese (some say Jewish) heritage. In 1550, Proaza was studying at the University of Valladolid’s Faculty of Medicine. He was enrolled in Spain’s first ever anatomy course, which was taught by Alfonso Rodriguez de Guevara, a renown physician who’d just come back from studying the subject in Italy.

For a subject that was just formally introduced to Spain, Proaza had an unusually deep understanding of anatomy. Everybody was impressed with his knowledge, and he was considered Guevara’s best pupil. His neighbors, however, were more scared than fascinated by the young man.

At night, they heard crying and moaning coming from Proaza’s house, and the stream behind his home was sometimes soaked with blood. Soon, a rumor spread that the promising anatomist was practicing necromancy. When a 9-year-old boy disappeared in the city, Proaza’s neighbors only grew more suspicious. They contacted the authorities to search Proaza’s house.

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The Mysterious Montserrat Mountain of Spain

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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.

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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.

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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.