Serial Killer Daniel Camargo Barbosa: 'The Sadist of Chanquito'
Somewhat overlooked in true crime conversations, Daniel Camargo Barbosa is still among the worst of the worst.
Daniel Camargo Barbosa murdered anywhere between 72 and 180 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s. Similar to serial killer Luis Garavito (known as "La Bestia" or "The Beast"), Daniel Camargo Barbosa seems to also often escape mention when it comes to lists of "the worst serial killers." However, make no mistake that he certainly would deserve to be on any such list.
Biographer Ann Rule described the much-more-famous Ted Bundy as "a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human's pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after." However, rather than appearing as some Bundy-esque yuppie, Barbosa had the look of an average, poor and aging man, which certainly would have helped him blend in (coincidentally, Barbosa had shared the same prison with another serial killer I have discussed, "the Monster of the Andes" Pedro Alonso López).
Daniel Camargo Barbosa definitely earned the nickname "The Sadist of Chanquito," once apparently boasting: “I rape virgin girls because they cry.” Police Col. Holguer Santana said of the sadist: ″According to investigations and, based on the psychoanalitical investigations done by professionals ... We have determined that Daniel Camargo Barbosa is a typical psycopathic-paranoic-sado-masochist.″
As with the aforementioned non-American serial killers, "The Sadist of El Charquito" is likely overlooked because his crimes took place in Colombia and Ecuador. How often does Western media pay attention to crimes committed in foreign countries? However, much like the average American serial killer, Daniel Camargo Barbosa's victims came from a narrow range of backgrounds, including poor children, based on his hatred and lust for his targets (in this case, typically women and girls).
Fortunately, he is no longer alive. In 1994, Barbosa died in prison (more on that later), and I could end the story there. However, despite the stigmas against true crime writers greedily exploiting deaths to make money, I honestly feel there is some value in looking at these people's origins, their crimes, and, to some degree, assessing what can be done to prevent such killers (plus, can it be denied that true crime is potentially fascinating, be it in a foreign land or in one's own neighborhood?).
More About the Maniac
Barbosa was born in Colombia, to a working-class family, and he received little formal education. Although he was apparently an excellent student while still in school, he was compelled to drop out to help his family earn money. According to every bio piece I have read, he eventually developed a relationship with a woman named Esperanza who helped him acquire girls to be his victims. This habit led to his first prison sentence which was for 8 years.
Upon release in 1973, he likely worked a variety of jobs to avoid becoming an absolute rag picker. However, the one that gets mentioned most is being a street vendor selling TV monitors in Barranquilla, the 4th-largest city in Colombia. Unfortunately, rather than turn his life completely around and end his violent, scheming ways, his prison experience put an additional chip on his shoulder and, like so many other serial killers, let his negative experiences self-rationalize his cruelty to others. Rather than stay as a street vendor or, let's say, seeking a new career elsewhere as a factory worker, he followed his passion as a full-time predator.
In the late 1970s, Barbosa was arrested and imprisoned for raping and killing a 9-year-old girl. Even though he was a repeat offender and his victim was a minor, Barbosa received a lenient sentence of 25 years, getting sent to the island prison of Gorgona, Colombia in 1977. To make his story even worse, Daniel Camargo Barbosa successfully escaped from this prison in 1984, using a self-made raft, and he made it to Ecuador where, especially without advanced warning, his violent rampage was able to be rekindled. He went on to rape, torture, and/or kill further girls, with the true amount ultimately unknown. In Ecuador, he was believed to occasionally earn money by selling items that belonged to his victims, to add insult to injury.
When police finally re-arrested him in 1986, it was initially based on his acting suspiciously. He had recently committed another murder and was acting nervously. Police found some bloody clothes on him belonging to his latest victim, and, perhaps oddly, a copy of "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Initially, and much like Ted Bundy, Daniel Camargo Barbosa gave a false name to conceal his identity. However, a rape victim who had escaped revealed his true name. Camargo is said to have calmly confessed to killing 72 girls in Ecuador.
Incredibly, Camargo was only sentenced to 16 years in prison. And yet again, much like Ted Bundy, Camargo also played up that he converted to Christianity, most likely as a cynical attempt to pretend he had changed. In 1994, Daniel Camargo Barbosa was stabbed to death by a nephew of one of his victims, who had coincidentally been incarcerated in the Garcia Moreno de Quito jail. Barbosa was 64 years old.
Like every serial killer you'll ever hear about, Daniel Camargo Barbosa threw away not only other people's lives but his own. Any good one might think of him will forever be overshadowed by his crimes, which is exactly what he deserves. Though he may live in infamy and may have driven fear into people's hearts, Barbosa was ultimately a pathetic waste of a human being.
However, there is that special question: What could be done to prevent another killer like him? What sort of wisdom can be drawn from his terrible story? Unfortunately, I can at best generalize about treating people with kindness to potentially reduce the odds of violent behavior. While that sounds naïve, it should nonetheless be remembered that some societies are less violent overall than others, and there are possible lessons to learn from those differences.
In this case, it is doubtful that any single thing led to Daniel Camargo Barbosa's career as a killer. However, let's recall that, oddly, it was partly a career also in a literal sense. Recall that Barbosa actually lived partly by selling items stolen by his victims.
I am not meaning to simply imply that Barbosa was a mere victim of poverty, but that it no doubt did inform and augment his situation, and he had learned to use and abuse others to his own perceived advantage. A person who feels cheated and wronged is a little more likely to commit violent crimes, using the perceived vengeance as justification for constantly taking a step further. It is said that Barbosa's mother was abusive to him, at least in some ways. Obviously, that does not justify his behavior to us, but no doubt would to himself.
What complicates this story is that, of course, not everyone with a criminal history quite turns out as Daniel Camargo Barbosa did. While many understandably argue the courts were far too lenient on him, it's nevertheless true that not literally every criminal (or accused criminal) is a repeat offender.
However, in this case, it is more than obvious that this one was never going to stop until something stopped him. He was stopped in 1994, but it was obviously too late. There is also the question of what we, as a society, should stop doing to create serial killers, and what we should do instead. My platitudes here obviously won't be enough, but I do hope they provide some food for thought.