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The real 'Hannibal Lecter': a murderous Mexican doctor who helped the poor


His name was Alfredo Ballí Treviño, but he was known as 'The werewolf of Nuevo León' or 'The vampire'. He was a young doctor sentenced to death for a heinous crime. His incredible story inspired one of the most sinister characters: the cannibal Lecter.

In 1963, the American journalist Thomas Harris went to the Topo Chico prison in Monterrey to interview his compatriot Dykes Askew Simmons, sentenced to death for triple homicide, but

when he got there he met another person

whose manner of being elegant and inquisitive caused him a deep impression.

Simmons, a man with a cleft lip and small scars on his head, had escaped from a mental asylum in the United States.

He sought refuge in Mexico, but ended up locked up again after murdering three brothers.

He tried to repeat the escape feat at Topo Chico, but the security guards shot him.

Had it not been for the intervention of a young doctor imprisoned in the same prison, he would have died

Harris was preparing a report on Simmons for Argos magazine and wanted to interview the doctor who had saved his life.

He was unaware then that

Alfredo Ballí Treviño

, whom he registered in his notes under the pseudonym

Dr. Salaza

r, had been convicted of a homicide that filled the pages of the main newspapers in the country.

[Victims of the Golden State Killer face him in court for the first time]

On the afternoon of October 8, 1959, Ballí Treviño, then 27, left his office in the Talleres neighborhood of the city of Monterrey.

She carried a cardboard box in her arms with the remains of her dismembered lover


They investigate the death of an American couple found in a well in Baja California


9, 202000: 55

Medical student

Jesús Castillo Rangel

, 20, had visited Treviño in his office that afternoon.

They had a disagreement and the situation turned violent.

Treviño submitted it.

He gave him an injection of sodium penton and cut his throat with a scalpel until he bled to death.

Then, with precise strokes of the same instrument, he separated the pieces of meat without cutting a single bone.

He placed the dismembered body in a box that he put in the trunk of his car and drove to a ranch on the outskirts of town.

There he buried the box with his lover's bones.

The owner, the uncle of an acquaintance, assured him that it was only medical waste.

[Most prolific serial killer: He confessed to killing more than 90 women and the FBI believed him.

They have already verified 50 cases]

The next day, a shepherd found the shallow grave where the remains were buried, according to some versions in the media he

made the discovery thanks to "a pint-sized cow"

that stood on the mound to sniff what was lying under the surface.

"I followed her to stop her and I saw a pile of stones at the foot of a bush of those so-called pincers," the pastor told the newspaper El Norte.

Alfredo Ballí Treviño during an interview with the newspaper Milenio in 2008 Courtesy Milenio

The police did not take long to locate Ballí Treviño and when the prosecutor Alejandro Garza Delgado questioned him, he did not keep the secret.

He carefully confessed the sequence of atrocious events, as assisted by the calm that years of study confer and even boasted of his ability to demembrane the body, according to the authorities' account.

In May 1961, a judge found him guilty of murder, clandestine burial and usurpation of profession.

He was sentenced to death 

and became the last Mexican to receive the death penalty.

Ballí Treviño's cold intelligence captured Harris's imagination during his interview in Topo Chico, and years later inspired the creation of the emblematic character of the psychiatrist and cannibal

Hannibal Lecter

, according to the author in the prologue to the 25th anniversary edition of his novel

The silence of the innocent





also includes the books

The Red Dragon, Hannibal


Hannibal, Dawn of Evil

, which were made into a movie.

"There was a certain elegance about him



Harris wrote, recalling the prison encounter.


Dr. Salazar

, who used the pseudonym writer not to

reveal the identity of the inmate, was "a small, agile man with thick dark red hair."

With a sign, the doctor invited him to take a seat.

Actor Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, in a scene from the 1991 film The Silence of the Innocents.AP

The roles were reversed.

It was the inmate sentenced to death who led the conversation with the journalist based on dark questions in an infamous dialogue that Harris recovered in

The Silence of the Innocents

and that was played in the cinema by actors Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling.

'The Clearfield Rapist' was also a serial killer - he smelled of alcohol and forced families to witness the attacks


Mr. Harris, how did you feel when you looked at Simmons?"


Do you have sunglasses with you, Mr. Harris?"




Because he could see his reflection in his ... But tell me, do you think that Simmons was abused by other children during recess because he is a man with a physical defect?


Probably that's common.


Yes, it is common.

Did you see photos of the victims: the two girls and their little brother?




Would you say they were attractive boys?


They were: handsome young men from a good family ... with a good education, I have been told.

But ... you're not implying that they caused it, are you?


No, of course.

But childhood afflictions make later afflictions easily recreated.

Actors Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Julianne Moore as FBI Agent Clarice Starling in the thriller Hannibal.Getty Images

Only after the interview did Harris learn that his interlocutor was not the prison doctor but a surgeon sentenced to death for a chilling homicide.

"The doctor is a murderer," the prison guard explained to Harris when asked how long he had been working there.

"As a surgeon he was able to package his victim in a surprisingly small box," he added, "he

will never leave this place, he is crazy


["Go to bed and don't fight."

This immigrant was a serial killer.

A box with a piece of paper betrayed him]

Harris himself did not remember the name of the doctor and had to ask Mexican journalist Diego Enrique Osorno for help to locate him, providing only a few clues.  

They kill the narcocorrido singer Luis Mendoza with bullets

July 8, 201901: 41

"I need information about a doctor known in the press as

El hombre lobo de Nuevo León

, who was incarcerated in the state prison of Nuevo León in the late 1950s and 1960s. I do not know his name," Harris wrote in a letter to Osorno, who told




his girlfriend discovered the identity of the murderer


In 1970, two years after the abolition of the death penalty in Nuevo León, a judge commuted Ballí Treviño's sentence to 27 years in prison and he was released in 1978, after serving his sentence.

[He hunted his sister's killer and discovered a serial killer of women]

The doctor spent his last years treating poor people in a modest office in Monterrey.

In a 2008 interview with the newspaper Milenio, the last one he granted, Ballí Treviño declined to speak about his crime.

“I don't want to relive my dark past.

I don't want to wake up my ghosts, it's very difficult.

The past is very heavy and the truth is that this anguish that I carry is unbearable ”, he said.

Ballí Treviño died the following year, aged 81.

People in the neighborhood where he had his practice still remember him: "He was a good person," said a neighbor interviewed by the British newspaper The Times


With information from

The Times








Milenio and El Norte


Source: telemundo

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