12 Jan The Monsters of Ecatepec
Juan Carlos Hernandez and Patricia Martinez
In 2018, officers in Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico were met with a sight that was equal parts horrifying and bizarre. A couple was spotted walking down the street, pushing a baby stroller. This seemingly normal scene turned terrifying when it was found that the stroller did not contain an infant – instead, it was filled with the remains of the couple’s latest victim that they were attempting to dispose of. As the investigation progressed, it was discovered that this couple, Juan Carlos Hernandez and Patricia Martinez, had been raping, murdering, dismembering, and cannibalizing young women since 2012, and they are suspected of anywhere from 10 to 20 murders.
Both Juan Carlos Hernandez and Patricia Martinez were born in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan. Juan Carlos suffered a childhood that has bred many a serial killer before him – he was raised by a single mother that often dressed him up as a girl to humiliate him. He also says that she forced him to watch her sexual encounters with men that she brought home. At the age of 10, Juan Carlos fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a severe brain injury, yet another hallmark of a serial killer’s childhood. He also later alleged that he had suffered sexual abuse by his female caretaker in childhood.
Much less is known about Patricia Martinez’s early life – all we know is that she was born to a poor family in 1980 and that she was described as “manipulative” growing up. Later on, she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in relation to intellectual disability. She had a history of being a sex worker but managed to leave that life and began working as a waitress at a restaurant, where she met Juan Carlos Hernandez.
Though it doesn’t appear that the pair ever got married, they moved in together and had four children. They also opened a family business together that sold clothing, perfume, and cell phones.
According to Patricia, the couple’s first victim was a 22-year-old woman that Juan Carlos lured into their house with the promise of a job. When she entered the house, Juan Carlos took her into the bathroom where he raped, beheaded, and dismembered her. According to Patricia, she kept their children outside of the house while this murder occurred. Later, she says that she cooked parts of the body and ate them with her husband.
The second victim was the couple’s teenage neighbour, who suffered from an addiction to inhalants. Allegedly, they lured her into the house with the promise of money. She endured the same fate as their first victim; she was raped, beheaded, and dismembered in their bathroom. Patricia cooked this victim’s body into Carne con chile, according to her account. As the murders piled up, some reports say that the couple was keeping their victims’ remains in buckets in their refrigerator. The remains that they didn’t eat were discarded in an empty lot. Juan Carlos would later say that they also used parts of their victims to make fertilizer and pet food.
Later on, investigators would discover that it was actually Patricia who was responsible for luring the victims into the house, making her just as complicit in the murders as her partner.
Unfortunately, there is no awesome detective story in this one. Considering that this case is relatively fresh – the couple was apprehended in 2018 – there is very little information available about the investigation that led police to Juan Carlos and Patricia. The couple were suspects in the disappearance of three women, one of whom disappeared with her baby. The couple was apprehended with the stroller because police hoped that it would contain this missing baby, but they instead found a bag containing human body parts.
Police later searched the empty lot and found eight 20 litre plastic buckets; they had been filled with human remains and then filled with cement. Forensic experts are still trying to figure out who the victims are and how many there might be.
Upon questioning the couple about the missing baby girl, they admitted that they sold the two-month-old for 15 000 pesos (approximately $755 USD). The girl was later found safe and returned to her grandmother. The couple who had bought the baby was later arrested.
Juan Carlos revealed the names of three victims; Arleth Samanta, who had gone missing in April 2018, Evelyn Nohemi who went missing in June 2018, and Nancy Nohemi, who went missing in September 2018.
The couple’s total sentence for the murders was 327 years each in prison; these sentences built up as they were tried separately for each murder case. They were also charged with human trafficking for the sale of the two-month-old baby and received an extra four years each for that charge. The couple remains in custody in the Chiconautla State Prison. So far, they don’t appear to have given any interviews that would give us more insight into why they did this; their motives remain a mystery.