SHARE
COPY LINK

B

‘I had parents’ blessing’: Rainforest kidnapper

New details of the case involving the kidnapping of a nine-year-old Barcelona girl rescued seven months later in the Amazon rainforest are emerging.

'I had parents' blessing': Rainforest kidnapper
Thirty-five-year-old Grover Morales has said he had permission to marry the nine-year-old girl he took with him to Bolivia. Photo: YouTube

As the world awaits to hear the truth behind this unbelievable story — much of which will depend on when the Bolivian judge handling the case lifts the gagging order — new information is appearing in both Spanish and South American media.

First there’s the face behind the kidnapping: 35-year-old Bolivian Grover Morales.

The short, emaciated man with long hair down to his waist spoke calmly to local TV journalists when being transferred from his cell.

"I had her parents' trust," Morales claims.

"Her mother told me Islamic law allows for this. She said, 'If you want to marry my daughter please do, my friend.'"

"The father told me ‘If you’re going to marry her, what do you need?"

Morales told reporters how he and the girl’s family obtained power of attorney from a Barcelona court, allowing the pair to leave Spain for Bolivia.

Police inspector Jordi Domènech, who headed the missing person investigation from Spain's Catalonia region, has since provided proof that the girl’s parents had indeed legally allowed her to travel with Morales.

The alleged kidnapper also told Bolivian journalists he had agreed with the parents he would bring back gold for them, which they could later sell off at a higher price.

The girl was to be used as a mule who would carry jewels so as not to raise suspicions at customs.

Morales didn't mention however that the trip was supposed to last seven days and not seven months.

Although it was initially reported that the girl’s parents were unable to speak to her once she was in Bolivia, it has since emerged they held brief phone conversations at the start of her time in the Latin American country.

When they lost complete contact, the mother and father — Moroccan citizens living in Spain since 2008 — decided to reach out to Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police.

Eventually, four Spanish Civil Guard police officers were sent over to Bolivia's Department of Cochabamba, where for over a month they were hot on the heels of the kidnapper — a Muslim convert—and his victim.

Morales fled deep into the rainforest region of Yunga de Totora, an area of dense jungle impossible to penetrate without a machete.

"She was desperate to leave the jungle," Civil Guard forces told a press conference of the young girl’s ordeal.

Morales is reported to have made her walk for days and forced her to work on the local cocoa plantations.

When syndicate leaders grew tired of the Spanish police presence in the region, they too hunted the pair down.

In the early hours of March 8th, they found the young girl lying on the ground in a small hut deep in the jungle.

"She started crying the moment she heard a language she recognized (Bolivians in the region speak Quechua rather than Spanish)," Spanish Civil Guard captain Álvaro Moreno told the media.

Morales, who now faces charges of human trafficking and sexual abuse, had already been charged for raping his two sisters.

But according to Spanish newspaper El País, the women were convinced by their mother to drop the charges.

Morales' mother is also reported to have aided her son when he first arrived in Bolivia with the girl.

Spanish police are now looking in detail at the involvement of the girl’s parents to determine whether they were looking to profit from her departure.

Meanwhile, Morales continues to claim he caused no harm to the nine-year-old he passed off as his niece but treated as his wife.

"I haven’t stolen, killed or kidnapped anyone," he argues.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.   

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

KIDNAPPING

19-year-old Spaniard rescued from drug-fuelled doomsday sect in Peru jungle

Peruvian police have rescued 19-year-old Patricia Aguilar, missing for more than a year and a half, from the hands of a doomsday sect in a remote jungle area.

19-year-old Spaniard rescued from drug-fuelled doomsday sect in Peru jungle
Aguilar was found in an emaciated and unhygienic state, holding a baby. Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP

Patricia Aguilar, two other women and five children were discovered in a hut in San Martín de Pangoa in the center of the country, Peruvian police announced on Thursday.

According to José Antonio Capa, head of the anti-trafficking police unit, sect leader Félix Steven Manrique considered himself an envoy of God and called himself “Prince of Gurdjeff.” 

He managed to groom Aguilar and other women through a Facebook group he set up, painting himself as a messiah on a mission to repopulate the world and one who would save his followers from the apocalypse.

In fact Manrique ran a harem of women who submitted to him. He forced them to have sex and consume Ayahuasca, an indigenous drink that causes hallucinations and anxiety attacks.

Aguilar was found in an emaciated and unhygienic state, holding a one-month-old baby.

Initial investigations suggest it is hers and Manrique’s child. 

Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP

Aguilar disappeared from her home in the Valencian city of Elche on January 7th 2017, shortly after turning 18. 

She allegedly told her family she was going to a friend’s house, instead stealing €6,000 from her father’s business and flying to Peru a few days later. 

Several months after she disappeared, the young woman told a Peruvian TV station that she was volunteering in Peru. 

But her father Alberto Aguilar told the Spanish press that his daughter had been brainwashed by a bizarre doomsday sect and presented evidence that the NGO Patricia was allegedly working for was bogus. 

Aguilar senior was able to raise funds to fly to Lima and search for his daughter, setting up a missing person Facebook page to increase awareness of the disappearance both in Spain and Peru. 

“We realized that little information was reaching Peru, they didn’t even know about Patricia’s case because of the kidnapping of another girl from Bilbao,” Noelia Bru , cousin of Patricia's mother, told El Mundo.

Patricia’s father was able to make several appearances on Peruvian TV, explaining how he was retracing his daughter’s steps and asking the general public for help.

Patricia’s family’s work proved instrumental in aiding police to pinpoint her remote location. 

Upon arrest, sect leader Félix Steven Manrique was found meditating, while two women “presenting clear signs of violence and emaciation” worked by his side. 

Patricia’s family are reported to be extremely relieved to have found her, even if she “doesn’t want to have a relationship with us”. 

“My daughter’s status in Peru is illegal, so we hope they will extradite her back to Spain,” Alberto Aguilar told El Mundo.

“Although we don’t know what’s going to happen to the baby, our idea is that it can come with Patricia back to Spain.”
 

Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP