The “educated psychopath”: the first criminal profile in Spain

Joaquín Ferràndiz, during the trial for the murder of five women, in 1999.EFE

“This was the first psycho I ever faced. And the worst, because this one does not warn. The danger of him is the kindness of him and the education of him. I don’t think there is anyone worse than him in Spain”. The second lieutenant of the Civil Guard Tomás Calviño left his work in homicides when the case of Joaquin Ferrandiz, the man who, in the mid-90s, murdered five women in Castellón. “He was a hunter. He would go out with her girlfriend, leave her at home and that’s when she would go to the premises to watch while she drank vodka with orange. Always vodka with orange”, recalls the veteran agent.

The Ferràndiz case marked a turning point in Spanish criminology, because it is considered the first in which the criminal profiling technique was used. Build a portrait of the author through his construction site: the victims, the scene and the modus operandi. The psychiatrist from the University of Valencia, Vicente Garrido, was in charge of carrying out the profile. “In the case of Ferràndiz, the ritual was very revealing: tying her hands, gagging, covering her head… It was clear that she was expressing a hatred towards women that demanded that she depersonalize them… She did not rape them, she suffocated them and then The fantasy culminated with the adequate preparation of the corpse”, details the specialist. The first step was to determine that all the deaths came from the same perpetrator. He was smart enough to change his objective: he went from girls with families and a stable environment, to prostitutes whom he thought no one would miss.

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Her first homicide occurred in 1995, her name was Sonia Rubio. It was not possible to arrest him until 1998. “He told me that when that victim stopped breathing, he felt tremendous peace. You can’t even imagine what it’s like to see a person telling you this,” says Calviño. Ferrándiz fell due to several errors. The most decisive, that he attacked a girl who managed to escape and give a description of him and her car. On another occasion when the police forces were already sure of his guilt, the monitoring team managed to observe his technique: he deflated the tires of his victim’s car to help her when she had an accident and then attack her. But what sentenced him was the duct tape he used at his crime scenes, a very rare and hard-to-find one.

The second lieutenant had several conversations with the predator, the first of them, in the search that they carried out in the apartment where he lived with his mother. “It was July, an oven, no air conditioning. We were at least 10 hours. He did not drink a drop of water. When we walked in, the dog didn’t even look at him, and any dog ​​that hasn’t seen his owner for a month goes crazy. That was the first thing that caught my attention ”, he revives. Calviño also recounts that he got “angry” when he touched a box that belonged to his mother, but that he did not flinch when the judge told him he had been jailed for five murders. “In the reconstruction of the events, I stayed behind with him to ask him why he had destroyed the fingers of one of the women one by one. He said that he had not. He didn’t mind looking like a murderer, but never like a macabre,” explains the agent.

The first steps

“To go back to the beginnings of this technique, we have to go back to the 50s. The New York police asked the psychiatrist Brussel to carry out a psychological description, through photos and evidence, of an individual who terrorized the city for years with the planting of bombs”, explains Jorge Jiménez, general director of the Behavior and Law University Foundation, which specializes in behavioral sciences. Shortly after, the Mad Bomber was arrested, an irate subject against an unfair dismissal. “In the 1970s, the Behavior Analysis Unit was created at the FBI to advise on certain cases with a psychological component,” Jiménez points out. The first profilers toured the prisons of the United States to meet with the worst criminals and try to understand them. A story that inspired the Netflix series mindhunter.

“Our work is not like in the series. There are no crystal balls, no mind hunters, we handle data from an empirical point of view and we work with the evidence to generate hypotheses,” stresses Civil Guard sergeant Manuel Ramos, a member of the criminal behavior analysis section, in a virtual chat organized by Behavior and Law three months ago. In 1994, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Luis González laid the foundations of this department in the armed institute, which in this time has participated in a thousand cases and is made up of six experts in criminology and psychiatry. Ramos highlights the importance of academic collaboration to establish clear protocols. “The placement of an object at the scene, the fact that the victim appears in a specific position, that his face has been covered, the way of addressing the victim in the case of an assault… All of this is evidence that there is to analyze,” he says.

Portrait of Joaquín Ferràndiz Ventura.
Portrait of Joaquín Ferràndiz Ventura.

“The profiles are only carried out in certain cases: when there is physical evidence that points you to a suspect, or the witnesses exist and are reliable, the profiling it will not contribute anything ”, Garrido points out. “Another thing is when there are no indications that allow you to follow a promising line of research. In such a case, a profile can be helpful in directing the investigation towards groups of people or places. That is why it is preferably used in serial murderers and rapists ”, he argues. “It has been used, for example, in the murder of Diana Quer, or that of the boy Gabriel. In the case of Linear City Predator there were hundreds of suspects, on that occasion the National Police used this technique to try to reduce the number,” Jiménez points out. Behavior analysis is also used in interrogations or interviews with particularly vulnerable victims.

Joaquín Ferràndiz ended up confessing his crimes. “Of course I remember the day they arrested him, we were all there with our shirts not reaching our bodies,” summarizes Garrido. “Everyone in Castellón was worried, if at that time you had a daughter and you went out at night…”, recalls Calviño. The agent, who has not seen Ferràndiz for years, does remember a chance meeting with his former boss at the insurance company. “He told me that for the work he did, he had to hire two people, and even then they didn’t reach half of what Ferràndiz did.” His mother has never stopped believing in him. Calviño defines him in one sentence: “He was the perfect son.”

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The “educated psychopath”: the first criminal profile in Spain