Luis Garavito was a Colombian serial killer who murdered hundreds of boys in a 7 year period in the 90s. Police worked diligently to crack this case, and finally arrested Garavito in 1999 after an his attempt to a abduct a young boy failed.
This episode may be upsetting for some listeners, so listener discretion is advised.
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Hi Everyone, welcome back to Killer Astrology, the podcast. I’m your host, Laura, and it’s hard to believe that I’m already welcoming you back to episode 10! I appreciate you all so much for joining me from the very beginning of this journey that I hope will last for a long time. I’d like to extend an extra special thanks to everyone who has gone out of their way to rate the show and write a review. It means a lot to know that you’re enjoying the podcast, and your reviews are really helpful in keeping it going.
Before we move into the episode, I just want to let you know that after today, there will be two more episodes of season 1. The next episode will be a typical one, where I’ll share the story of a killer and then talk about their astrology. The following episode, episode 12, will be part season recap, where I’ll share my findings about what all these killers have in common, and part “about the host”, since I realized I never formally introduced myself. For episode 12, you’re welcome to send me a question that i’ll read and answer on the show. Just send your question to [email protected] with the word “ Question” in the subject line, and make sure you include your name if you want me to read it in the episode.
Alright, I’m done with my introduction. Let’s get into talking about today’s killer.
April 22nd, 1999 began as a typical day for young Ivan Sabogal and his family. Ivan left the house at his usual time and went about his business, selling lottery tickets on the streets of Villavicendio, Colombia. This was somewhat of a regular activity for Ivan, as selling these tickets was a way for him to collect money to send himself to school. Although life on the streets of Colombia can be chaotic, Ivan was typically home at around the same time every day...until this particular day, when he was late. At first it was just a few minutes, Surely he’d be back soon, but then it was more. As the minutes ticked by, Ivan’s parents began to worry, and it didn’t take long for them to do something about it. Ivan’s mother, Maria, went to the police station in-person and asked for help finding her missing child, and prosecutor Fernando Aya almost immediately jumped in to help her.
I imagine there is no feeling like the fear of missing a child, the fear that Maria was harboring on that night. There are hundreds of thousands of children who go missing around the world each year, and so many parents of those children are still searching, still living with that fear and dread for their children. But Maria got lucky.
At 7:15pm on April 22nd, police got a call from a local auto body shop, where a boy had just come from narrowly escaping assault by an older man. Police rushed to the scene, bringing Maria along with them. And when they got to the shop, they found Ivan, maybe a little shaken up, but safe. It turns out that while Ivan was out conducting his business, a man had approached him and lured him into a secluded area, where he began assaulting him, just as a homeless man walked by to see the scene and stopped the man in his tracks. It was this homeless friend that saved Ivan’s life kept him safe until they reached the auto body shop, where they were able to call for help. Police picked him up from the shop, reunited him with his mother, and began driving them both safely home...but it wasn’t long before they made a pit stop. Because Ivan had noticed something out the car window...it was him. The man who had attacked him in town.
Police stopped to confront the assailant, who very calmly denied involvement in this crime, but did not make a scene and went with the police willingly. He said his name was Bonofacio Liscado, but it wasn’t long before police discovered that that was a lie. The man was actually Luis Garavito, and he was wanted for dozens of murders over the past 7 years.
You may have wondered why one of the lead detectives in this Colombian precinct took on Maria’s missing persons case immediately and without a second thought. It was because he was already involved in a similar tragic case. You see, Detective Aya had spent the previous 6 months investigating the murders of 13 children between the ages of 8 and 14 who had all been found in a mass grave outside Villavicendio. And these murders weren’t isolated incidents. There had been other mass graves turning up all over the country, and it would turn out that one man, Luis Garavito, was responsible for them all.
The first mass grave was discovered in 1994 in a town called Tuluá, where 7 boys aged 8 - 13 had been buried. According to the Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo, another 10 graves were found that same year, but the case went unsolved. Even in 1996, when Luis was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a boy near Colombia’s capital, he wasn’t tied to the other murders. He actually wasn’t convicted of anything at all, since there was insufficient evidence to tie him to the case they were looking at at the time. It wasn’t until 4 years later in 1998, when 9 more mass graves were found that year, that authorities joined forces and through their research, began to suspect Luis. In the year that local all the authorities convened, 9 mass graves were discovered containing 42 bodies in total.
In some of these graves, authorities found in-tact bodies in various stages of decomposition. Alongside those bodies were torso-less skulls or skeletons missing heads. Some bodies still bore signs of being bound and tied, others showed evidence of lethal knife wounds.
It was very hard for authorities to identify these bodies. They were all the bodies of poor children who had received very little routine medical care in their lives, so there were no dental records for most of them. This made it impossible for the forensic team to identify them based on dental impressions. As a result, some forensic experts looked for DNA evidence they could tie to the families of missing children. Others attempted facial reconstruction, which is notoriously difficult to do for children, whose heads are constantly growing and changing with age.
While authorities began the painstaking work of identifying the victims, investigators were gathering evidence that would ultimately tie Luis Garavito to the deaths of all of these missing children.
And there was actually quite a lot of evidence. Investigators had found similar fibers from rope at multiple crime scenes, liquor bottles of the same brand, and shoes, which they tested for wear. Based on the wear pattern of the shoes, experts determined that the perpetrator walked with a limp. All of this evidence actually helped lead them to the wrong person at first. Their suspect had been selling honey out of the same brand of bottles that Luis left at the scene, was the same height as Luis, and walked with a limp. But this other man was only in jail for a short time before police realized that he couldn’t be the killer, since bodies continued to turn up around the country.
But police soon found other evidence they could test. At one grave site, Luis had left money, which authorities could trace, as well as his glasses. Experts were able to determine the prescription of his lenses and what he would have used that description for, and they determined that they were looking for a man in his 40s or 50s. They also knew they were looking for a man with burns down one side of his body, since the glasses and other evidence at the crime scene had been charred by some kind of accident. It was these glasses that helped implicate Luis once he was in jail. Investigators made the clever decision to have all of the prisoners at the time undergo an eye exam, as not to make Luis suspicious. During this exam, they were not only able to match Luis’s affliction with his prescription, but also to gather DNA evidence from his cell, and ultimately tie him to many of the deaths they uncovered.
In addition to all the forensic evidence police uncovered, they also tracked down Luis's sister and in her home found a bag that her brother had given to her for safekeeping. This bag contained papers and journals that described his killings, along with evidence that connected police to another bag of records. At the end of their investigation, police had DNA evidence, the evidence from Luis's eye exam, a confession, and three of these record bags that tied Luis to the killings.
Even with all this evidence, Luis vehemently denied his involvement in these crimes for months. It wasn’t until the lead investigator recounted to Luis just how he completed many of these crimes that he finally gave in. He was in jail for 6 months before he finally confessed on October 29th, 1999. After his confession, his trial ensued and Luis was sentenced to over 1000 years in prison, but that sentence was diminished to just 22 because of a sentencing law in Colombia. Thankfully, it seems that Colomian authorities making sure he is not released anytime soon. And even if he is released, he may have to go to Ecuador because he killed other people there.
So, how did Luis get this way? Well, his early life was traumatic, to say the least. He was a child from a small town called Genova, which was right in the center of the lengthy Colombian civil war. On top of the societal unrest of the time, Luis and his 7 siblings lived in a poor household with an abusive father. It is estimated that Luis was physically and sexually abused from the ages of 6 to 16, when he finally decided he’d had enough and left home to find work. He wandered around the country for years, taking odd jobs here and there, but ultimately picking up his father’s drinking habit and emulating his bad temper. His alcoholism and bouts of anger infuriated locals and he was run out of town on more than one occasion. Amazingly, he managed to maintain a relationship with a woman when he was a young adult, and there is no account of him abusing her or her small child while they were together. It seems the violence against children happened later, and against strangers. But it happened so frequently and so brutally that it’s impossible not to wonder how the man who had killed children in at least 54 Colombian towns and 2 towns in Ecuador didn’t get caught. An article by Vice provides some explanation.
The article explains that violence has been prevalent in Colombia since it gained independence from Spain in 1810. Political battles and civil wars have plagued the nation for years, and drug violence is incredibly high, since the country is famous for growing the plant used to make cocaine. With all the political unrest, drug activity, and lack of financial security throughout the population, police have a lot on their plates. An average of 20,000 people are killed per year in Colombia, and the country’s total population is about 50 million. Just for comparison...the same amount of homicides occur each year in the US, but our population is upwards of 320 million. In addition to the high murder rate in Colombia, there is a high population of homeless children. At the time when Luis was active, Political unrest had separated many children from their families, and many of them were living on the streets. Without families, there was no one to report these children missing when they disappeared. Because of this, it wasn’t just Luis who roamed free killing children for years and years. There are two other Colombian killers, Pedro Lopez and Daniel Barbosa, who are on the top of the list for most prolific killers in the world.
Even in a notoriously violent nation, it takes a particular kind of evil to commit the crimes that Luis did. Let’s take a look at his astrology to better understand what fueled him.
Luis Alfredo Garavito was born in Genova Colombia on January 25th, 1957. He has an Aquarius sun and a Sagittarius moon, and we don’t know his ascendant.
The first thing I noticed when I looked at this chart is an almost exact opposition between his Aquarius sun and his natal Uranus, the ruler of Aquarius. I’ve described Uranus before as an explosive and unpredictable planet. In fact, when I think of Uranus I imagine a big ball of lightning going off in various directions at unexpected times. Now that kind of unruly energy can craft a truly creative genius if the energy is channeled productively. But when it’s channeled unproductively, it creates chaos. I think of oppositions in the birth chart as invitations to integrate seemingly different energies into one’s being, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. With oppositions, there tends to be a lot of projection, or a tendency to demonstrate the qualities of the opposing planets outside of oneself and onto other people. Luis was living, breathing chaos, and he pushed that chaos onto other people through pain and torture, just as his father did to him. One thing we see in his chart is that his sun is conjunct Chiron, which is also opposite Uranus. This is a wounded person, wounded by chaos, who is unable to heal this this pain and so perpetuates the cycle outwardly.
The Sun-Uranus aspect is not the only exact aspect in Luis’s chart. There are a lot more aspects within 1 or 2 degrees, and many of them are minor stress aspects, like quincunxes and sesquiquadrates. Quincunxes are 150 degree relationships between two planets and signify a disconnect between two areas of life, the emotional effects of this are often subconscious. They can make a person feel like one area of their life is stopping them from living fully in another. They may have secret affairs going on to satisfy their needs in both areas, or they may shut one need out completely.
Luis has a quincunx between his mars, the planet that indicates his survival instinct and fighting impulse, and his north node, which indicates the path he can take to find self-fulfillment. Now, because he grew up in a highly abusive household where he was constantly being beaten and molested, Luis’s stress response was likely always activated. This is a martian issue of self-defense: when you’re being attacked, instincts take over and you do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. When you’re trained for over a decade to keep yourself alive, fulfilling other spiritual needs may fall to the wayside. It seems like Luis got stuck in his mars energy to the extent that his north node disappeared from view, and once that happened, he couldn’t leave mars behind. That energy was comfortable for him; it was all he knew. So he just transformed it, using that fighting energy in the offensive against so many innocent children. With Pluto, the planet of taboos trine to his mars and square the north node, acting out these violent impulses was made a bit easier.
While Quincunxes are not so similar to other major aspects, Sesquiquadrates, or 135 degree separations between planets, produce a similar tension to squares. But both can be subconscious. With squares, this tension is very obvious and typically causes enough discomfort that people want to work out their difficulties. But sesquiquadrates are more like annoyances; they’re easier to squash down into the background to work on later, or not at all. Luis has a sesquiquadrate between his Lilith and his Jupiter, creating a tension between his sexual fantasies and his moral obligations as a human being. This is an aspect where cultivating a bit of empathy and self awareness could have come in handy, but we don’t need to look very deep into Luis’s story to recognize that that never happened. This is yet another instance of Luis’s reliance on his mars energy blocked his better judgement and kept him on the road to destruction. We know this happened here because he has a quintile between Lilith and mars within an orb of 10 minutes, which is 1/6th of a degree…basically nothing. A quintile can be thought of as a talent, a thought pattern, or even an underlying propensity toward some life theme. In this scenario, mars and Lilith are working so closely together under the surface that they’re basically inseparable.
Lilith has proven to be a central placement in the charts of almost all the killers I’ve covered so far, and I think it’s interesting that at the time that Luis was apprehended, Uranus was in exact conjunction to his Lilith almost to the minute. When I say exact conjunction, I typically mean within 1 degree, which spans 60 minutes. Luis’s Lilith is in 16 degrees 25 minutes of Aquarius, and Uranus was in 16 degrees 27 minutes of Aquarius. That’s almost as close as two planets can get. Uranus moves really slowly, so it’s conjunction with this point on Luis’s natal chart was hanging around for a while, but it demonstrates that it was only a matter of time before an unexpected change brought on by Uranus would shake up how Luis was living out his fantasies as shown by Lilith’s placement. Another interesting transit occurred on the day that Luis confessed. Jupiter, the planet of morals was within 1 degree of Luis’s mars...it was almost like the societal ethics were finally coming to override his martian affliction. And thank god they did, because this is a man who will probably never be rehabilitated.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll be back next week for another episode of Killer Astrology. In the meantime, send me your questions if you’d like me to answer them in Episode 12, and as always, remember: people may lie, but the stars never do.
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