Murder in the Cine Oriente

Back in 1950’s Ruzafa, a gruesome crime took place which has become known as the Murder of the Cine Oriente. The cinema on Calle Sueca no longer exists, but it captured the headlines of Valencia for an entire summer.

For days, the patrons of the cinema had been complaining about a terrible odor. The owner explained it as dead rats, owing to the poison he’d recently spread around. But the stench was truly atrocious and didn’t go away, even after the rat cadavers where cleaned up.

Meanwhile, a bag had been found at the nearby train tracks, holding the extremities of an adult human. The legs and arms were cleanly shaven, with freshly painted nails. Shocking, but not nearly as horrific as the decapitated, armless and legless body that soon appeared locked in trunk, in an empty lot on Calle Sueca.

With these discoveries, the rancid odor at the Cine Oriente took on a more ominous tinge. Despite thorough searches of the premises, the police could find nothing. They began interrogating the cinema’s employees… but the janitor was strangely nowhere to be found. He lived with his mistress, María López, who explained that urgent business had called him away to Barcelona. Her story, though, seemed a little suspect. The janitor may have been a useless drunk, but at least would have informed his boss about a sudden departure.

A more thorough search of the cinema was immediately undertaken and finally, battling through the overwhelming stink, behind the cinema screen inside a box of cookies filled with dirt and manure, they found the partly decomposed head of the janitor.

María López confessed immediately. The janitor had been drunk, and they had been fighting when he fell backwards down the stairs and smacked his head on the ground, dying immediately. Panicked, she decided to chop up his body and hide the pieces, using a handsaw and knives. She painted the nails and shaved the limbs to confuse police. After her original hiding place inside the cinema began to stink and draw suspicion, she started removing the pieces one by one to various locations, but ran out of time before she got to the head.

A good story, but a little difficult to believe in its entirety… there was no contusion in the back of the janitor’s skull, nor did this version explain the crowbar stained with blood and hair, which was found in her apartment.

María López would serve 6 years for homicide, and another 5 months for the mutilation of the corpse.

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