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South America’s 8 Scariest Serial Killers

From a man who killed for God to a child predator who dismembered more than 150 girls, gruesome tales from below the equator

While the United States has more serial killers than any other nation, some of the most brutal murderers the world has ever seen came from the Southern Hemisphere. They've left hundreds of bodies of children, women and men in their wake, along the way earning grim nicknames like "monster," "beast," and "sadist" as the public grappled with their repulsive crimes. Some of these killers targeted poor, indigenous women and children who lived on the margins of society, police making a horrifying situation even worse by failing to properly investigate the deaths of the victims. While citizens were outraged by the grisly crimes, many of the country's judicial systems were not structured in a way to handle such gruesome acts, with maximum sentences that did not come close to letting the punishment fit the crime – like a child murderer who went free after just 14 years. Here, eight of the most terrifying serial killers from South America. 

Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch serial killer

Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch

Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch, Argentina

In a stretch of just 11 months starting in March, 1971, Carlos Eduardo Robledo Puch committed a string of armed robberies, raped two women, assaulted several women and killed 11 people, becoming Argentina's most prolific serial killer. While he occasionally worked with an accomplice, at least one of whom died under suspicious circumstances, Robledo Puch never fit the profile of a killer. He was young, attractive, intelligent and from a wealthy family, but he turned his back on his privileged life. He never gave a motive for his crimes, seemingly killing indiscriminately, as two of his victims were asleep at the time of their deaths. These nighttime visitations helped earn him the nickname of the "Angel of Death." A judge eventually deemed him a psychopath, to which he replied, "Someday I'm going to get out and kill you all." He was sentenced to life in prison in 1980 and has never been granted parole. 

Daniel Camargo Barbosa serial killer

Daniel Camargo Barbosa

Daniel Camargo Barbosa, Colombia

It is believed that between 1970s and 1980s, Daniel Camargo Barbosa raped, murdered and dismembered over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador. He earned the name of "The Sadist of El Charquito" for the brutal treatment of his victims, hacking them to pieces with a machete. While Camargo was suspected in the deaths of 80 women and girls, he was eventually arrested in Colombia for the rape and murder of a nine-year old girl. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He managed to escape from the island prison where he was held, though, making his way through shark-infested water to Ecuador, where he continued his gruesome crimes, raping and killing at least 70 more victims. He was captured again and charged with more deaths – and was suspected in the deaths of up to 50 more women. He was sentenced to a mere 16 years in prison in 1989 for his crimes, then the maximum penalty in Ecuador. Carmago never made it out of prison, though, as he was killed by another prisoner in 1994.

Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha serial killer

Alleged serial killer Tiago Gomes da Rocha (C), suspected of killing 39 people, is escorted by police officers at the Department of Security, a day after his arrest, in Goiania, state of Goias, Brazil, on October 16, 2014.

Evaristo SA/Getty

Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha, Brazil

Over the course of four years, Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha killed 39 people. Gomes da Rocha worked as a security guard in Goiania, a small city in central Brazil. In his off hours he rode the streets of the city on his motorbike robbing shops, pharmacies and lottery outlets. He would pretend to mug people, shouting "robbery" at them before simply shooting them dead instead. Gomes da Rocha targeted women and sex workers –  his victims included a 14-year old girl, young women, homeless people, prostitutes, and transvestites. As police were investigating the string of ghastly deaths, Gomes da Rocha swiped a license plate off a motorbike in a supermarket parking lot and put it on his own bike. That small crime put Gomes da Rocha on the police radar and they soon realized he was a suspect in the murders. He was taken into custody a few days later in October, 2014, and confessed to the murders, telling police that he killed to release the "fury" inside of him. Police found the .38 revolver he used in the crimes in his grandmother's house where he lived. They also found knives, handcuffs, a hammer and more stolen license plates. After his capture, he attempted suicide by smashing a light bulb in his cell and slitting his wrists. He did not succeed and is still behind bars.