Pedro Lopez is a serial killer who is almost unheard of in the United States, but his enormous body count towers over the names we remember when talking about notorious killers. It is estimated that Lopez killed over 300 people in South America before he was captured in 1980. The creepiest part of this whole story? Lopez was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1998, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Like many serial killers, Pedro Lopez survived a horrific upbringing. Lopez was born in 1948 in Colombia. His mother was a prostitute, and his father was shot and killed before Lopez was born. When he was only 8 years old, Lopez’s mother caught him molesting one of his sisters, and he was kicked out of the house. He ran away and lived on the streets of Bogota. Lopez’s life was forever altered when, still just a child, he was raped in an abandoned house. He was taken in by an American couple that discovered him living on the street, but even in those improved circumstances, he was taken advantage of by an adult – this time at school. So Lopez ran away again. Later in life, Pedro Lopez would recall that it was these early abusive experiences that made him seek violent revenge on innocent people.

Lopez committed his first murder not on the street, but in prison. While serving a jail term for car theft, Lopez was gang raped by a group of men. He responded by killing the men one-by-one with a homemade knife while still behind bars. This first taste of blood set Lopez’s fanatical obsession with murder into motion.

Photo Credit: Alchetron

After his release from prison, Lopez started to murder young girls in Peru. He would lure girls to remote areas, then would subsequently rape and murder them. After committing dozens of murders in Peru, Lopez was captured by members of a local indigenous community as he attempted to kidnap a 9-year-old girl. The natives were furious at Lopez and sentenced him to be buried alive. A missionary intervened in Lopez’s execution, and the tribesmen were convinced to hand the killer over to Peruvian police. Lopez, his life spared, was quickly deported to his native Colombia.

Lopez continued to murder; when he made his way to Ecuador, dozens of young girls disappeared. Like in Peru, Lopez was eventually apprehended by citizens as he attempted to kidnap a young girl. In 1980, he was finally in the hands of the police. But though the authorities had him in custody, they didn’t know the extent of his crimes – Lopez simply refused to cooperate.

To solve the problem, a pastor went undercover, posing as an inmate. He gained Lopez’s trust, and eventually the killer confessed where many of his victims were buried. Lopez admitted that he killed 3 girls a week, saying: “I like the girls in Ecuador, they are more gentle and trusting, more innocent.” Authorities did not believe many of Lopez’s claims at first, but when a flash flood unearthed dozens of bodies, they quickly changed their minds.

Lopez admitted to over 300 murders in various countries. He was charged with 110 murders in Ecuador, and in 1981 he was sentenced to 16 years in prison, the maximum sentence in the country at the time.

Photo Credit: Wikinut

After serving 14 years of his sentence in Ecuador, Lopez was released and deported to his native Colombia in August 1994. Once there, he was declared insane and sent to a mental institution. In 1998, Lopez was declared sane and was released on only $50 bail. He promptly vanished, and today no one knows where the Monster of the Andes might be.

Want more? Check out the articles below:

The Irish Assassin: Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll

“Born to Raise Hell”: Richard Speck and the 1966 Chicago Nurse Murders