Some know him as ‘El Pirata’. Some call him ‘Rotavella’. Ibiza’s police and guardia civil named him ‘Ibiza’s Public Enemy Number 1’.
But for all his notoriety, Juan Torres Serra has escaped prosecution for the 3 murders Police are convinced were by his hand. That is, until now.
- Words; Nick Gibbs, Photos; Vicent Mari, Diario de Ibiza & Xavier Peris, Diario de Mallorca
All three prior cases have been thwarted by the same situation – the absence of a body, and without it the Police have been unable to secure a conviction.
But now, decades after Torres was last in their sights, the Police have arrested El Pirata on suspicion of a fourth murder, following an almost identical m.o.
Over the last 48 hours teams of Police have been excavating a property in Mallorca where they think they will find the body of his latest victim, 48 year old man identified as ‘Antonio LM’.
Sources close to the scene say Torres, pictured above during one of his trials in the 90s, but now 56, has been present throughout the police operation. They say he has remained calm and impassive throughout.
The Guardia Civil draw their hypothesis on the grounds of the similarity of circumstance in that 3 of the four disappeared property owners are said by Torres to have signed over their property to him shortly prior to their disappearance.
This latest investigation could allow the reopening of the three previous cases.
The Vanishing Property Owners
Torres is considered the main suspect in the disappearance in Ibiza of the lawyer Antonio Ferrer Juan, aged 72, in 1997; the German Thomas Egner, aged 41, in 1998; and Francisco López Álvarez, aged 60, in 2007.
The Lawyer ’97
The 72-year-old lawyer Antonio Ferrer Juan, disappeared in Ibiza on December 4, 1997, after he commented to some close friends that Juan Torres was extorting money from him. His car appeared at the house where Juan Torres lived.
The German ‘98
When Torres was arrested in 1998, he was living in Ibiza in a country house owned by Thomas Egner. Police state that they found him in possession of the missing Lawyer Ferrer’s car, which had false number plates attached. The German had disappeared a month earlier, and nothing has been heard from him since. Torres stated that he had left for South America and showed a document that left him in charge of the house. Police found that Torres had burned the missing German’s possessions, but despite a huge search in and around the property, they were unable to find any evidence of foul play nor a corpse.
Though previously unable to secure a prosecution for murder, Torres is no stranger to the courtroom and prison. He is described as a 56-year-old veteran criminal from Ibiza with multiple criminal records and convictions for violent crimes.
In 1998 Torres was sentenced to five years in prison for kidnapping a man who was chained and gagged for a week. On the afternoon of April 23, 1998, more than a dozen Civil Guard agents surrounded a country house near Santa Agnès in Ibiza. Juan Torres Serra, then 34, had taken refuge inside after being on the run for some time.
Police used tear gas canisters to flush him out of the building, stating at the time that they considered his arrest that of Ibiza’s Public Enemy Number 1.
Juan Torres Serra already had a long criminal record and had a pending conviction for the illegal detention of a baker from Sant Antoni, with whom he allegedly participated in a smuggling operation. Torres threatened the baker with a speargun and kept him chained and gagged for a week in the basement of an abandoned building until the man was able to escape. Investigators believe that had it not been released, it would likely have also disappeared.
At the end of 1998 Torres was sentenced to five years in prison for the kidnapping.
The 3rd Man ’07
In 2007 Francisco López met Torres in the Palma jail, where the 60-year-old man was serving a sentence for drug trafficking. Hours before his disappearance, he was seen in Ibiza with Rotavella, who was on prison leave.
The 4th Man, Mallorca ‘20
Now in 2020 Police think the situation is almost identical. Juan Torres was living for a year in the house of Antonio LM in Binissalem, Mallorca. Antonio LM has not been seen since August 24th. Not having heard from him and concerned for his safety, the relatives of the missing man went to his house where they found Torres who told Antonio’s family that Antonio LM had left and he did not know his whereabouts. Torres told the family that shortly before disappearing Antonio had signed a document giving him the right to live in his house for three years.
Unsatisfied with his explanation, the relatives reported the disappearance to the Police, and once they made the connection that it was the same Juan Torres Serra that had evaded justice 3 times already, alarm bells rang and a major police operation swung into action.
Mallorca Excavations Search for 4th Victim
About fifty Civil Guard agents, acting with the guidance of a geologist from the Mining Institute, undertook an inch by inch search over the 40,000 square metre estate of the Camí de Biniagual, in the vicinity of Binissalem, in Mallorca. They have confirmed that they are looking for the remains of Antonio LM, though not given any further details as to why they are so sure he has been killed. Machine excavators have been brought in to assist in the search, with dozens of holes visible across the property, thus far without results.
Among the police team are agents from the Judicial Police, Citizen Security, Underwater Activities, the Nature Protection Service and the Mountain Rescue Group have been mobilized to track the farm.
The agents of the Judicial Police who carried out the investigation were accompanied by guards from the Citizen Security Unit, divers from the Special Group for Underwater Activities and dogs trained in the search for bodies. Throughout the day the operation tracked the plot and the divers examined wells and cisterns, to no avail for now. The search is expected to continue for several days.