The Tragic Tale of Diogo Alves

Diogo Alves was Portugal's first serial killer.

Like many other people, true crime somewhat fascinates me. Every so often, I will research a particular killer, and study them anecdotally.

I stumbled upon this story, which was particularly chilling and unique.

What makes this ever the more bone quivering, is that you can still stare into his eyes.

Literally- his head is preserved in a jar.

Temporal illusions shield us from the reality of the past, but you cannot ignore the reality of a perfectly preserved human specimen staring back at you.

Born in Spain, he was ironically endeared with the nickname "Pancada" ironic- because the theme of his head, somehow coming into harm, would follow him throughout life, until his death.

You see, he was so wicked, that pseudoscientists [phrenologists] decided they'd keep his head after his execution, to study. Not so surprisingly, the study didn't yield too many results.

His head still remains, however, in the basement of the Lisbon Hospital- his name, relatively unknown, given the severity of his crimes. As my Portuguese friend describes it- "obscure." He knew of Diogo, but not quite as much as I do.

The most fascinating thing about him, to me, is in fact, his obscurity- and the hypocrisy of how he was finally caught.

Diogo purposely preyed on victims who'd either be a) easily forgotten b) were so poor, that no justice would come for them, or c) were from out of town. His method of operation: wait for someone on the Aquaduct, rob and attack them, blindfold them, and then well. . .

He'd literally throw them over.

At the time, and for quite a long time, the authorities assumed that these were suicides. The state of the economy had caused unrest and depression as of late, so this wasn't hard to believe.

However, eventually rumors of the "cursed aqueduct" circulated- forcing Diogo to find a new hunting ground.

With a group of guys, he robbed and murdered some rich people. He was caught the same night, and was executed not long after.

The tragedy for Alves' victims was twofold. First they were excited by Alves. Then, the government did worse than forget about them; they did nothing to protect them.

R.I.P. to those unnamed, but always loved and remembered.