"The Playing Card Killer" is a captivating Spanish documentary miniseries that explores the case of Spain's notorious serial killer. The series delves into the events of 2003 when a murderer terrorized Madrid, killing six people and attempting to kill three others. The killer's signature was leaving playing cards of the suit of cups at the crime scenes.
With three hour-long episodes, "The Playing Card Killer" provides an engaging watch, focusing on the killer's psyche, the victims and their families, as well as the shortcomings of the police and the media.
#1. What is "The Playing Card Killer" about?
The series revolves around the rise in violent crimes in Spain, particularly in Madrid, two decades ago. It starts with the discovery of a body at a bus stand, belonging to Juan Carlos Martin Estacio, an airport janitor. The murder scene featured a playing card—an ace of cups—drawing media attention and speculation about its significance. Another attack occurred soon after, where a man was shot in the face, leaving behind a two of cups playing card. This was followed by the murder of a Romanian couple, accompanied by three and four of cups playing cards.
As the media frenzy escalated, the police faced pressure to capture the killer. The theory emerged that the murderer might be a member of the Spanish army and a supporter of far-right ultras. Journalists speculated on a possible connection to the victims' immigrant and foreign national backgrounds. This led the police to investigate soldiers and officials who had received mental health treatment, hoping to find the culprit.
#2. Was Fichaje The Real Perpetrator?
Two survivors, Anahid and Teresa, helped provide facial sketches of the attacker. The police arrested a man called Fichaje based on Teresa's identification, but it was later revealed to be a political move to influence an upcoming election. The real breakthrough came when Alfredo Galan Sotillo walked into a police station in Puertollano and confessed to being the Playing Card Killer. Galan provided details about the crimes that only the perpetrator could know, confirming his involvement.
Galan, a former army member, had acquired the murder weapon, a Tokarev gun, during a mission in Bosnia. He confessed under the influence of alcohol but later changed his story, claiming he had sold the gun to skinheads who committed the murders and threatened him. However, the police and the court dismissed his alternative theory.
#3. Where Is Alfredo Now?
Throughout the investigation and trial, Galan displayed a lack of remorse and even appeared proud of his actions. He was ultimately sentenced to 142 years in prison for his crimes. While imprisoned, Galan wrote a letter offering help in solving a past murder case and changed his name, later publishing a novel reflecting his own experiences. Currently incarcerated, Galan is expected to be released in 2028, as the maximum imprisonment term in Spain is 25 years.
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