Miriam García Iborra, Antonia (Toñi) Gómez Rodríguez and Desirée Hernández Folch, known as The Alcàsser Girls (Spanish: Las niñas de Alcàsser), were three teenage girls from Alcasser, a small town near Valencia, Spain, who were kidnapped, raped, beaten, savagely tortured and murdered after hitchhiking to get to a disco in the nearby town of Picassent in late 1992. It is widely regarded as one of the darkest and most haunting criminal cases Spanish history due to the extreme violence with which it was committed and the frightening details of the autopsies. It shocked the country from the moment of their disappearance, as the image of their faces were very prominent in media coverage. Posters were published in all languages throughout Spain and even abroad. The initial uncertainty of the girls’ whereabouts and the increasing fear about the nocturnal risks facing teenagers added to the sense of unease.
The case was also very relevant due to a highly-criticized investigation full of mistakes and gaps. The autopsies revealed the existence of seven hairs with seven distinct DNA that belonged neither to the girls or their two alleged murderers, the men who drove the car they hitchhiked. Of the two, Miguel Ricart Tárrega was the only one jailed, whereas the whereabouts of Antonio Anglés Martins are not known and he is still among Interpol’s most wanted criminals. Many observers claim that the official version was a coverup to hide the reality of the triple murder, and several theories were proposed about its main motive, from satanic rituals to a snuff movie recording, and even including a crime involving the highest political circles in Spain.
The event also marked a turning point in Spanish mass media, which quickly focused on the anguish and suffering of the girls’ families and the local people. It is often cited as the zenith of trash TV in Spain, in which anything went in the name of morbidity and high audience rates.
Crime scene reconstruction
Miriam, Toñi and Desirée disappeared on November 13, 1992, while traveling to a high school party that was going to be held in Coolor, a popular discothèque located just off Picàssent. The day of their disappearance they had previously visited another friend who was ill and declined to join them. Miriam asked her father (Fernando García) to pick them up and drive them to the club, but he was suffering from influenza and was unable to do so. The girls thus tried to get to the disco by hitchhiking, as they had done the previous summer, and as many teenagers did at the time. A young couple from Alcàsser took them to a petrol station near Picàssent. Then they got into another car (likely a white Opel Corsa, presumably driven by Antonio Anglés and Miguel Ricart). A lady saw them get in, but as it was dark she was unable to see the back doors. From that moment on, all trace of the girls was lost, and during 75 days posters were published in all languages throughout Spain and even abroad.
According to a statement by Miguel Ricart, the only person heretofore charged regarding the event, when arriving at Coolor, Antonio Angles told Ricart to continue driving. The girls began to scream. Angles then pulled a Star Model BM gun and hit the girls with the butt, which broke some of their teeth. They headed to a crumbling abandoned house near a place known as La Romana, in a very isolated and mountainous area closer to the Tous dam. They tied up the girls, raped two of them vaginally and anally, occasionally using objects like sticks. Then they went to Catadau in search of some food and returned two hours later, raping the third girl. After all sorts of atrocities and humiliations that left the girls with various injuries and bruises, the attackers slept until morning, ignoring the cries and screams of the dying girls. When they woke up they forced the girls to walk to a pit they had previously dug, and beat them again. There they continued torturing the girls. According to the autopsy, Desirée suffered a traumatic amputation of the right nipple and areola with a sharp object, likely a knife or perhaps pliers, and was then stabbed twice in the back. The other girls screamed while being beaten with sticks and stones, almost killing them. They were finally shot and buried. Miriam’s corpse displayed vaginal wounds caused by an object provided with sharp edges, possibly produced postmortem. The killers picked up the spent cases and cleaned the car.
The following days
From that moment, an intensive search was conducted to try to find the girls’ bodies. They were found on January 27, 1993, 75 days after their demise—by two beekeepers in a ditch located near La Romana. The heavy rains of the previous days softened the land and the corpses appeared from their improvised grave. It was soon confirmed that they had apparently been murdered, having suffered unimaginable tortures before they died. The Civil Guard police later found at the scene one of Ricart’s gloves, a referral note of the Social Security on behalf of Enrique Angles Martins (brother of Antonio) and a bullet case. TV channels quickly rushed to Alcàsser to broadcast live and provide coverage of the grief of girls’ families and the overwhelmed town. Antonio Angles was not at home when the Civil Guard police appeared in search of his brother Enrique. He escaped while being hunted by the Civil Guard and was about to be captured in the town of Villamarchante. The last trace of him in Spain was when he was near Minglanilla, Cuenca for a few days, after which he went to Lisbon, and stowed away on board the container ship City of Plymouth. He is reported to have jumped overboard when the ship arrived off the coast of Ireland, and is assumed to have either died instantly, or from subsequent cold and/or drowning.
The controversial trial of the two arrested suspects became a prime time showcase, featuring gruesome pictures of the teenagers’ corpses, preceded by standard warnings to the audiences.