Police in El Salvador investigating the double homicide of a mother and daughter have made a gruesome discovery, unearthing a mass grave of mostly women in a former cop’s backyard. Authorities are said to have found the clandestine cemetery this week when investigating former police officer Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, who is suspected of murdering a 57-year-old woman and her 26-year-old daughter, which the former cop reportedly admitted to.
Chavez, 51, had a rap sheet that included allegations of sex crimes.
Osorio Chavez’s home in Chalchuapa, about 50 miles from San Salvador, was being searched as part of the investigation when police said they found what appeared to be uneven, soft ground. They found eight separate pits with they believe could be more than a dozen bodies in each. Local media say police say sexual violence was involved in the demise of the women. “The central axis of the investigation is sexual violence,” Graciela Sagastume, the prosecutor leading the investigation, told reporters.
The former cop and 10 others have been arrested in what police believe was a violent sex and murder ring in which women, and perhaps some young men, were snuffed out. Justice Minister Gustavo Villatoro suggested that the depth and complexity of the secret burial site pointed to the complicity of more than one person. None of the suspects in custody have so far shed light on the matter.
By Friday, a number of people with missing relatives gathered at the cop’s home with pictures of loved ones in hopes of identifying a corpse. Many of the grave sites are thought to be at least two or more years old.
Osorio Chavez was dismissed from the local police force in 2005 after admitting to being a sexual predator.
“He told us that he found victims on social media and sought them out, luring them with the American dream,” Police Chief Mauricio Arriaza Chicas told reporters. “This psychopath has been detained and I believe that 99 percent of the people who assisted him have been detained.”
As of Friday, two dozen bodies had been exhumed but police believe there could be 40 or more. Authorities say it could take a month to dig up all the dead.