Luis Garavito



Classicalcriminology asserts that individuals engage in crimes out of personalchoice or self-interest. Examining factors such as parenting, drugsabuse, peer influences, and gang affiliation can help understanddeviance or misbehavior. Social ineptitude, institutional breakdown,and status influence illegal behaviors among individuals. Behaviorinforms an individual on when and how to respond to certain deeds. Intrying to examine the matter, I will assess the family history,education, and life of the selected individual. The paper examinesthe life of a serial killer named . He is a Colombiannational who is currently serving jail sentence after admitting tohaving killed and tortured over 147 boys. Understanding Garavito’slife, education, and family history is essential to help ingenerating information on what could have influenced his obnoxiousbehaviors.


Bornin Colombia in 1957, Garavito is said to have raped, tortured andkilled over 147 boys. He is the oldest sibling in his family. It isindicated that his father mentally and physically abused him. He alsoexperienced sexual abuse when he was young which could havecontributed to his behavior later in life. Coming from adisintegrated nation, Garavito’s family was poor hence could notafford the essential services and needs that support growth anddevelopment of an individual. Additionally, Garavito was raised in apoor and large family of seven boys. Povertymeant that his

parentscould not provide for the basic needs of their kids. As such,Garavito and his brothers did not get enough education. Psychologistsargue that Garavito could have felt uneasy bearing the condition oftheir family and responsibilities at hand (Newton, 2006). The statusof the family was a contributor to a stressful situation thataffected his psychological well-being. Poor conditions could haveworsened his condition making him worry about life’s situations.This is likely to contribute to stressful situation and misbehaviors.The financial burden for the family was enormous, hence could notmeet all the essential needs. It is also evident that the family wasnot supportive.

Familysetting plays a significant role in shaping the life of anindividual. Family risk factors have an excellent relationship withthe tendency of an individual to engage in violent activities. Lane(2003) examines the various personal and family risk factors thatinfluence the offenders. The author notes that the personal riskfactors include physical assault, sexual abuse, poverty and droppingout of school. The family risk factors include education status ofthe parents, occupation, criminal history and marital status.Garavito was a victim of violence at a tender age where his fatherphysically abused him. It is notable such a situation can easilyinfluence an individual to participate in violent activities,including murder. Dependency aspects played a crucial role inelucidating the results realized for young people in the juvenilejustice framework. Parenting contributes to the adoption of anybehavior among the kids and extends to their teenage years. Childneglect is another factor that can influence misbehavior. Garavitodid not enjoy good parenting. There is little data about hisrelationship with the parents. In his testimony, he only highlightshow the father abused him (Philbin &amp Philbin, 2008).


Comingfrom a poor background, Garavito acquired limited education. He issaid to have schooled not more than five years. In fact, he droppedschool and started working as a peddler in the streets. Garavito hadlimited educational skills. Limited education can affect the behaviorof an individual. Such individuals have limited opportunities broughtby educational competence. Poverty affected Garavito’s educationthat led to his engagement in crimes. He did not even complete thebasic level of education. Material deficiency and the numerous socialdisadvantages associated with poverty makes it impossible for poorpeople to access good education. Garavito was a victim of socialdisintegration in Colombia. The social environment in the country wasnot conducive to educational activities.

Educationis essential to improve the social and economic status of anindividual. Garavito’s lack of education hindered any meaningfulprogress in his life. He could not seek for employment. His lack ofeducation also meant that he had no skills and knowledge to engage inbusiness. Education is known to have the potential to change anindividual’s thinking and standards. Garavito’s lack of educationmeant that he could mainly socialize with people who did not attendschool. In such groupings, one can be easily influenced into engagingin misbehaviors.

Lifebefore Killing

Garavitoexperienced a form of social insecurity due to the lack of resources.Having little education, Garavito lacked skills that could haveallowed him to engage in meaningful employment. Before he startedkilling, Garavito was alcoholic. He used much of his time on thestreets as a peddler. His indulgence in drugs affected hispsychological welfare. Drugs are known to influence the normalfunctioning of the body. Psychological impacts arising from takingdrugs include anxiety, depression, grief and behavioral effects.There are social concerns such as stigmatization and victimizationthat directly influence the youths into taking drugs. Additionally,the effects of drugs on the kids take up a lot of a young person’stime. This is in turn makes a child lose attention and becomedisinterested in education. This negatively affects their emotionaland social development, eventually dropping out of school. Garavitowas both a victim of drug abuse and peddling (Larson, 2008).

Povertyhas the potential to lure individuals into engaging in misbehaviors.Poor people have limited access to essential needs and services. Assuch, the majority tend to engage in activities that are eitherunlawful or unwarranted in the society. Garavito was a victim of suchsituations as seen in his activities before he started killing. Atsome point, he would engage in drug-peddling to support his youngerbrothers. The matter aggravated his situation hence could not readilyavoid the stressful situations. He stopped going to school hencelacked friends who he could share his grievances. This isolation andlack of social attachment is what makes people depressive and invokesmurder thoughts. This situation explains that sometimes guilt isstronger than any other feelings and that these people would ratherbe dead than be feeling guilty (Siegel, 2011).


Factorssuch family factors, mental health, peer influence and drug abuse canlead to misbehaviors. Garavito developed his behavior due to the poorstate and ill-treatment he experienced when he was young. Usage ofdrugs and lack of education are also critical factors thatcontributed to his misbehavior. Social and economic factors haveconsiderable influence on the daily performance of an individual.Psychologists attribute the day-to-day challenges he faced whengrowing to extreme stress that prevented him his psychological healthfrom developing healthily.


Larson,E. (2008). TheDevil in the White City.Perfection Learning Prebound.

Lane,E. C. (2003). Correlates of Female Juvenile Delinquency. TheInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy,23(11), 1-14.

Newton,M. (2006). Theencyclopedia of serial killers.New York: Facts on File.

Philbin,T., &amp Philbin, M. (2008). Killerbook of serial killers: Incredible stories, facts, and trivia fromthe world of serial killers.Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks.

Siegel,L. J. (2011). Criminology:The core.Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Luis Garavito




LuisGaravito is the eldest child in his family and has six siblings. Heis said to have been physically assaulted by his father when he wasyoung. He was born in the month of January in the year 1957 inQuindio Colombia. He grew up in an atmosphere of violence with hisviolent father and neighbors who sexually assaulted him in his youth.Garavito left home at the age of 16, possibly due to the violence(Benecke et al., 2001).


LuisGaravito went to school for less than five years before he ran awayfrom home (Benecke et al., 2001).

Lifebefore killing

Beforehe became a serial killer, as an adult worked many jobsand was aggressive to other people and he migrated to different townsbecause the public did not like his behavior of violence. He isreported by the police to have tried suicide at some point in hislife before the life of killing began. Police report further saysthat Garavito had been under psychiatric observation for at leastfive years in his life before he started killing. He was also analcoholic.In his testimony in court, Garavito said that he had been raped byhis father and neighbours at some point as a child, an aspect thatpsychologists now believe was the triggering factor for his crimes.

Backgroundof the case

Garavitois one of the world`s worst murderers according to Columbian media.He is believed to have killed and raped at least 300 children between1991 and 1996 most of whom were boys from poor neighbouring andstreet children. The children he killed were between the age of eightand thirteen. Garavito was confirmed to have killed 144 of hisvictims and was initially sentenced 22 years in prison (Beneckeet al., 2001).His signature of the killing method was usually stabbing using aknife and beheading of victims after tying their hands and rapingthem. Garavito always buried his victims in shallow graves where hecarelessly left bottles of alcohol or sank their bodies in waterusing a rock. The killer committed the murders when he was drunkaspect psychologists say contributed to his violence.

Whenhe was committing his crimes, Garavito usually pretended to be asalesperson, a priest or a public speaker and persuaded children tofollow him by promising those who were drug addicts’ drugs and foodto those poor, hungry children. Authorities say that one of thereasons why Garavito managed to kill so many children unnoticed wasdue to the poverty of living in streets the cases of disappearingwere ignored.

Discoveryof the killer’s activity

Twonaked bodies of children with tied hands were found next to eachother in the outskirts of a Columbian town called Genua. A day later,another body was found several meters away. Many blood stains werediscovered with a knife next to the bodies. The external genitaliahad been mutilated. There were also bite marks and evidence of analpenetration. Next to the bodies was also a bottle of lubricationfluid that investigators conclude had been using in sodomy. DNAanalysis could not be carried out because of insufficiency of fundsand the organizational factors of the police force of Columbia(Beneckeet al., 2001).It was later discovered that all the boys had been from a nearby townbetween the age of 11 and 13, and all of them had been friends beforedeath. The boys usually worked selling fruits to supplement theirfamilies’ income. According to explanations from locals, Garavitohad usually bought the boys soft drinks from a shop nearby and askedthem for help in carrying oranges or walk him around. Also paidtickets for those children who liked watching games. Due to theexistence of several serial killers in Colombia at the time ofdiscovering the bodies, it was hard to find the killer. However, thesignature of the murders was different from those of other killerssuch as PedroAlonso Lopez, who had killed seventy children, but only specializedin girls. A team of four investigators investigated similar casesaround Colombia and found many, although identification was notpossible (Beneckeet al., 2001).However, even with the investigations about the murders going on,Garavito could not stop killing children. In 1996, Garavito lured aboy with sweets and the boy followed him to where he was killed andhis penis stuck in the mouth of after his death. The mother of theboy had started looking for him immediately he disappeared. It wasreported to the police and during the investigation, it wasdiscovered that Garavito had bought he boy and his friends setsbefore he lured the victim to follow him to the site of the murder.Only four days later, a thirteen-year-old boy was killed by Garavito.The boy was from a close by town (Beneckeet al., 2001).

Thearrest of Garavito

Garavitowas arrested in 1999 when he matched the description given by a boywhom he had tried to sexually assault. The descriptions of taxidrivers who had seen him also matched his appearance. When he wasasked for identification, he gave the identification number and nameof someone else but was put in prison nevertheless for not havingidentification documents (Sanmartin,2001).The identification could not be confirmed because no network wouldprovide the identification detail through computers. Investigatorsdiscovered his real name after they found out telephone numbers inhis pocket. Garavito was also implicated by the photos that werefound in a box that he had given to his relative. The policeinterviewed him after uncovering his identity as he was already asuspect in the serial killings. He admitted to the crimes and askedfor forgiveness. However, Garavito did not show remorse as headmitted to having killed one of the boys even after he shared withhim about abuses at home. Psychologists are not sure whether Garavitoadmitted to the crimes and even directed the police to where he hadburied the bodies to show power or to get a shorter prison term(Sanmartin,2001).


Untilnow, the case put forth against Garavito has not been closed yet thisis because he still confesses to more killings as time passes(Benecke,2001).By 2001, he was found guilty of 160 murders. Garavito was not provenpsychologically ill. Therefore, he was sentenced to prison. However,as a result of his good conduct in jail, he may benefit from earlierrelease according to some reports(Benecke, 2001).Garavito was not presented to court when the judgement was made as aresult of confessing his crimes to the police. He stays in solitaryconfinement because police fear that he may be killed by otherinmates if he is mixed with them.


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Benecke,M. (2001). [Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos: criminal and legalaspects of serial homicide with over 200 victims]. Archivfur Kriminologie,210(3-4),83-94.

Sanmartin,J. (2001). Concept and History of the Serial Killer. In Violenceand Psychopathy(pp. 91-104). Springer US.

Newton,M. (2008). SerialKillers.Infobase Publish