Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Adolfo Constanzo

The Legacy

Mexican authorities were less concerned with Constanzo's impending resurrection than with making charges stick against the surviving cultists. El Duby's case was open-and-shut, his confession recorded on two murder counts, but Sara Aldrete first posed as a victim, betraying herself when she protested too much, revealing intimate knowledge of the cult's bloody rituals.

In the wake of the Mexico City shootout, 14 cult members were indicted on various charges, including multiple murder, weapons and narcotics violations, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. In August 1990, El Duby was convicted of killing Constanzo and Quintana, drawing a 35-year prison term. Cultists Juan Fragosa and Jorge Montes were both convicted of Raul Esquivel's murder and sentenced to 35 years each; Omar Orea, convicted in the same case, died of AIDS before he could be sentenced. Sara Aldrete was acquitted of Constanzo's slaying in 1990 but was sentenced to a six-year term on conviction of criminal association. La Madrina insisted that she never practiced any religion but "Christian Santeria"; televised reports of the murders at Rancho Santa Elena, she said, took her completely by surprise. Jurors disagreed, and in 1994 , when Aldrete and four male accomplices were convicted of multiple slayings at the ranch. Aldrete was sentenced to 62 years, while her cohorts—including Elio Hernandez and Serafin Jr.—drew prison terms of 67 years. American authorities stand ready to prosecute Aldrete, El Duby and the Hernandez clan for Mark Kilroy's murder, should they ever be released from custody.

Cult members arrested after the shootout.
Cult members arrested after
the shootout.

But is their evil vanquished, even now?

A grisly list of cult-related crimes remains unsolved in Mexico. From prison, Sara Aldrete told reporters, "I don't think the religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it. They have found a temple in Monterrey that isn't even related to us. It will continue." Between 1987 and 1989, police in Mexico City recorded 74 unsolved ritual murders, 14 of them involving infant victims. Constanzo's cult is suspected in at least 16 of those cases, all involving children or teenagers, but authorities lack sufficient evidence to press charges.

Referring to those cases, prosecutor Guillermo Ibarra told reporters, "We would like to say, yes, Constanzo did them all, and poof, all those cases are solved. And the fact is, we believe he was responsible for some of them, though we'll never prove it now. But he didn't commit all of those murders. Which means someone else did. Someone who is still out there."

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