The Face Of A 200-Year-Old Serial Killer.

Graham Charles Lear
3 min readMay 14, 2021

Diogo Alves was a 31-year-old man Spanish man who was executed in 1841. He was born in 1810 into a peasant family, he received a head injury at a young age after falling from his house. When Diogo was 19 years old he was sent off to work in Lisbon, Portugal. He frequently changed jobs and was known to enjoy drinking and gambling.

A few years later he decided to become a serial killer in Lisbon where he murdered 70 people between the span of 1836–1840. His modus operandi included robbing poor and less fortunate people he came across on the streets, then he would blindfold them and force them to the top of high structures (the aqueduct) where he would throw them off high falls below, making their deaths appear to be suicides. As you can tell, Diogo was not a good man in fact you could say he was a bit of a bastard and his actions were nothing short of evil.

People of Lisbon took notice of many dead bodies appearing at the bottom of the aqueduct, first, they were attributed to copycat suicides as Diogo would have liked them to believe. With so many deaths happening in the aqueduct, people began to feel weird about the place. They became scared, and the aqueduct got closed. It would never be reopened for many decades.

And the closure of the aqueduct became a problem for Diogo.

The aqueduct was the only place Diogo could kill without being caught. Now, he had to find a new place, or his crime career is gone for good. This time, Diogo formed a gang that would break into houses to kill and rob families. But in 1840, Diogo was captured and sentenced to death. Though the murder of the aqueducts remained unproven, the jury had all the evidence on the killing of family members by his gang.

He was officially executed on February 19, 1841. That’s the end of Diogo Alves, right? Well, Not exactly.

Due to some early serial killer psychology fascination, the head of Diogo Alves was severed from his deceased body in an attempt to study his brain and perhaps understand what occurred in the mind of Mr Alves. His head was preserved in a jar, where it still resides to this very day. An entire 200 years later.

It’s fascinating to see the face of a man who lived almost 200 years ago, his facial features and youthful appearance remain. You can still clearly see his long red hair, pasty-white skin, and his icy blue eyes which now eternally stare forward.

Many regard Alves as the country’s first serial killer, and the last person to die by hanging, but this simply isn’t the case. A woman named Luiza de Jesus, who admitted to poisoning 28 children, is the first recorded serial killer in Portugal and was whipped, hanged, and burned in the streets of Lisbon for her crimes in 1772. However, that's another story for another day.

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.