The Truth About Ecuador's Youngest Serial Killer Juan Fernando Hermosa

Juan Fernando Hermosa, who is commonly referred to as the "Child of Terror," was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. El Heraldo reported that he was raised by his adoptive parents Olivio Fonseca and Zoila Suarez. However, the boy was often tasked with taking care of Zoila, who was deaf, while his adoptive father was working out of town.

As reported by El Heraldo, Hermosa began frequenting local arcades, bars, and dance clubs when he was a teenager. He also reportedly founded a gang around the same time.

Authorities believe Juan Fernando Hermosa committed his first crime in November 1991, when he was 15 years old. As reported by El Heraldo, the teen and his friends abducted a taxi driver, who Hermosa ultimately shot to death. He then dumped the man's body and stole his cab.

One week later, Hermosa and his friends lured a transsexual hairdresser to his home under false pretenses. Later that evening, Hermosa reportedly pulled out a gun and shot the hairdresser five times.

Between 1991 and 1992, Hermosa and his friends supposedly killed 22 people. IPS News reported a vast majority of the victims were taxi drivers and members of the LGBTQ community. 

In January 1992, five members of Hermosa's gang were arrested following a robbery. Although Hermosa was not arrested at that time, one of his friends turned him in. As reported by Infobae, authorities descended on the teen's home and found him in a bedroom with his adoptive mother.

Juan Fernando Hermosa's capture and eventual death

As reported by Infobae, Juan Fernando Hermosa exchanged gunfire with the officers before he ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody. The confrontation lasted 15 minutes, and Zoila Suarez was killed amid the shootout.

Following his arrest, Hermosa confessed to killing 22 people and was subsequently sentenced to four years in the Virgilio Guerrero reformatory. Although he was an admitted serial killer, Ecuador does not charge or sentence minors under the age of 16 as adults.

IPS News reported Hermosa attempted to escape the prison numerous times, which suggested he was not responding to rehabilitation efforts. After killing one guard and injuring two others, Hermosa successfully escaped the prison in 1993, but was promptly recaptured and returned.

On March 1, 1996, just one month after his release, Hermosa was found dead along the banks of the Aguarico River in Lago Agrio. Authorities said that Ecuador's youngest serial killer was clearly murdered, and the "signs of torture" on his body suggested it was personal.

In an interview with IPS News, psychologist Marcelo Roman said Hermosa was likely murdered because his prison sentence was "inappropriately short" and "his crimes were still fresh on the minds of many people." Authorities have not made an arrest or identified a suspect in Juan Fernando Hermosa's death.