AP

Mexico man accused of slaying women he lured on Facebook

Jun 1, 2022, 10:30 PM | Updated: Jun 2, 2022, 1:11 pm

MEXICO CITY (AP) — State and federal authorities in Mexico said Thursday they have arrested a suspected serial killer accused of luring young women on Facebook with false job offers.

Authorities said they have surveillance camera footage from two states showing the man meeting with the victims in public places, and in one case driving a victim away on a motorbike.

The suspect “is a serial killer of women, and there are at least seven cases of women’s killings where this person could be involved,” said Assistant Public Safety Secretary Ricardo Mejia.

Mejia said the most recent case involved the killing a 31-year-old woman in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after she went for a job interview last month.

“Viridiana Moreno left her house in (the town of) Cardel, Veracruz, and went to the Bienvenido hotel to attend a supposed job interview she had obtained with someone on Facebook,” said Mejía. “After that she disappeared.”

Her name was made public by relatives who mounted protests after her disappearance. Her unrecognizable body was found days later, and was identified by an ID card found near the scene and by DNA testing.

Veracruz state prosecutors said Moreno was lured by a Facebook messenger post under an accounte registered to “Mary Madison” offering a $90 per week job as a receptionist.

“Duties include answering phones and making appointments,” according to a copy of the message distributed by prosecutors.

Prosecutors in the central state of Morelos said Thursday the same suspect had killed a 22-year-old student looking for work in April. Local activists said the student was lured into meeting the suspect at a cafeteria in late March by a Facebook listing for a job or articles for sale.

He then took her to a barber shop, where she was apparently killed.

Three days later, prosecutors said, her body was found: “The victim had been beaten, sexually abused and strangled.”

Protests also occurred after her disappearance. One chilling aspect was that both women disappeared after making contact with the suspect in public places with a lot of people around and had accompanied him willingly, apparently convinced by the job offers.

It was not clear if the victims’ bodies had been dismembered, but prosecutors in both states mentioned finding their remains in “several places” or in various plastic bags.

The Morelos prosecutors said the man had a long string of aliases and had been sought on rape charges in 2012. They listed Juan Carlos Gasperin and Greek Román Villalobos as the two most common aliases.

The man was arrested along with a female companion in the northern state of Queretaro. It was unclear if he had a lawyer.

Authorities said he may also have been involved in cases in the states of Queretaro and Puebla.

Activists posted evidence that a suspect using the same tactics may have been operating for a decade.

A 2013 article in the Veracruz newspaper El Buen Tono said that Greek Román Villalobos, then 28, had been arrested in 2012 “after he contacted young women to offer them jobs and when they showed up for the interview, he locked them in an office and raped them.”

The article listed some of the same aliases released by prosecutors Thursday.

Veracruz state prosecutors refused to comment Thursday on what the outcome of that 2012 case had been, or why he had been released.

“It is a sign of boldfaced impunity,” said Maria de la Luz Estrada of the activist group National Feminicide Observatory.

Estrada worked on the case of a suspect who raped a dozen women near a subway station in Mexico City; authorities were slow to bring charges against the man, and women found the legal process was stacked against them. The rapist was eventually arrested, but became ever more violent before he was caught.

“What we found was that each time he became more agressive” in the rapes, she said.

The vast majority of murder and rape cases in Mexico go unsolved.

The desperation of women needing work in small, provincial Mexican towns and Mexico’s largely under-the-table economy provides a fertile field for fake job offers.

On Thursday, authorities said they rescued two girls, ages 13 and 14, who had been lured away from home with offers of employment in the western state of Jalisco. They were found with a suspected abductor at a Mexico City bus station.

Drug cartels in Mexico have also been known to offer employment on social media sites.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

1 day ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

3 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

6 days ago

Mexico man accused of slaying women he lured on Facebook