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Unsolved Mysteries: Did David Guerrero Guevara draw his kidnapper?

I’ve been thinking about Spain a lot lately. Last year I explored the haunted wonders of Transylvania as part of the Horror Writers’ Workshop. It was a phenomenal experience, and I met so many amazing people. This year, Writers & Publishers International added another amazing retreat to its roster – a week-long adventure in Málaga, Spain.

The instructor is fabulous. I used to take classes with Elizabeth Engstrom, and she’s so encouraging and knowledgable (and FUNNY!). But here’s the tipping point – almost all of the people I fell in love with in Transylvania have signed up for Spain. How could I not go?

So I’ll be spending part of June in Spain this year, working on a new novel. If you’re interested in the retreat, there’s only three spaces left, so the best thing to do is hold your space with a deposit. There are so many of you I’d love to meet in person!

In honour of my upcoming journey to the sun-drenched lands of Spain, I thought I’d share a spooky Spanish mystery with you.

David_Guerrero_Guevara

Back in 1987, 14-year-old David Guerrero Guevara was already proving to be an extremely talented artist in Málaga, Spain. Lonely and shy, he took solace in his painting and drawing.

He was so talented that one of his paintings, a portrait of Christ, was chosen to be part of an Easter exhibition at La Maison Gallery. On April 6 at 6 p.m., David left the apartment where he lived with his parents and brother in Calle Sargento Garcia. He planned to visit the opening of the exhibit that featured his work, so he headed to a bus stop that was only 150 metres away from his home.

He never made it to the art gallery.

David Guerrero Guevara vanished, and no one has seen him since.

Police and volunteers searched for him while investigators questioned David’s family and friends–with no results. Since he was never seen at the bus stop or on the bus, the police were suspicious, believing David may have lied to his parents and had never intended to go to the exhibition. Queen Sofia was visiting Málaga that afternoon, quite close to David’s home. The resulting high police presence, both in uniform and plain clothes, makes it unlikely someone could have abducted him in the street.

Did someone convince David to go with him? One theory is that a network of art forgers kidnapped him so they could exploit the teenager’s talent, but that seems farfetched to me. And what young artist would willingly miss the first exhibition of his work? I think it’s more likely that someone offered him a ride to gallery – perhaps someone he trusted.

When the police searched the boy’s room, they found something eerie – David had drawn a series of caricatures featuring a much older man. The drawings resembled a 70-year-old Swiss man who had stayed at a hotel in Málaga between March and April of that year. The wealthy man was already a suspect because a woman working at his hotel said she had seen him with David.

Even though the Spanish investigators followed the lead all the way to Switzerland, they founds no evidence of kidnapping and no sign of David. None of the other so-called sightings ever panned out, either.

If still alive, David would be 43 this year.

Did he leave the caricatures behind as a clue? Did he realize he was in danger? Or was the resemblance between his drawings and the older Swiss gentleman simply a coincidence?

Sadly, we will probably never know.

Have you ever been to Spain, or have you wanted to go? Any “must sees” I should know about? What do you think happened to David?

PS – If you love unsolved mysteries, check out this one about how many people disappear without a trace every year. The statistics are staggering.

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38 Comments

  1. I loved my trip to Spain many years ago. I especially liked Malaga, so enjoy yourself there. As a parent, I cannot imagine having a child disappear or any loved one for that matter. Fortunately, my family has never had to deal with that issue.

    Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, that’s good to know, Denise. Anything in Malaga you’d recommend?

      I can’t imagine it either. It has to be the absolute worst.

      Reply
  2. I have not been to Spain. My oldest son was there for a summer study abroad program through his university. He had a great time. It’s beautiful and inspiring, I’m sure. That older Swiss man probably did lure David away. He probably flattered him with compliments about his art and befriended him. The drawings are likely of him, too. Since his work never appeared again, we can assume he was killed. Tragic. His poor parents.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a good point about his drawings, Mary – never thought of that. But how would we know?

      Reply
  3. This is such a sad story – so much artistic promise, gone like that. I think your theory of someone he trusted giving him a ride to the gallery makes sense. And they never found a trace? And not anything connecting David to the older Swiss man?

    I hope you’ll do posts about Spain like you did with Transylvania! Those were so much fun to read. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      I will definitely try my best to post daily. It won’t be as “spooky,” so it won’t fit my theme as well, but if there’s something worth posting, I will.

      Sadly, the police didn’t find anything they could follow up on. The case is colder than a Winnipeg winter.

      Reply
  4. How absolutely dreadful wondering whether their son is still dead or alive. I also wondered about the sketches David did of the older man – was the older man traced?

    No, I haven’t been to Spain … I’d love to go! You lucky person you!

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, he was. The police followed him to Switzerland, but couldn’t find any evidence.

      Well, check out the workshop, Susan. It’s less than half price what similar workshops cost, and it includes everything but your flight. There’s also a discount if you can share a room. I know South Africa’s economy is taking a hit right now, but it might be worth looking into all the same…would love to meet you in person!

      Reply
  5. That IS a very sad story, and it was totally the old man who took him.

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Dianne…it is sad. It’s too bad the police couldn’t find any evidence in Switzerland. Of course, when you have that much money, getting away with murder is definitely possible.

      Reply
  6. Strange indeed. Though the caricature man sounds the most plausible. You must enjoy Spain, what a wonderful adventure…

    Reply
    • JH

      Thank you, Shadow. I’m sure it will be wonderful. One thing I know for sure: the company and the instructor are phenomenal!

      Reply
  7. This is heart wrenching since he is clearly a great artist in the making. I love this art piece because it reminds me of the old Masters. I have a feeling he knew the person, that it must be a man and I would not rule out the Swiss man who sounds like he has the money to cover his tracks. I think this boy is probably dead and that is a shame. On a nicer note, I am so glad you are going to Spain! This sounds like another wonderful experience and will be looking forward to your posts

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for the kind words, Birgit! Would you like to come too? It would be great to meet you!

      I agree – his work reminds me of the old Masters too. Incredibly talented, and so young.

      Reply
      • OMG-I would love to! It is a little thing called money that prevents me plus my hubby would nag me because he would want to go to…Men!

        Reply
  8. I love when you write like this. I’ve got chills and a stupid expression on my face, wondering where the boy got to. I wish I could afford to travel–so jealous of you. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, thanks for the compliment, Anna!

      Writers & Publishers Int. offers scholarships to Romania and it’s about to go on sale in a big way next month. You can also cut costs a bit in Spain by sharing a room. Hopefully this helps!

      Honestly, I always used to say the same thing about traveling, so I know it’s hard to believe, but it IS doable if you want it – as long as you’re out of debt. I had to get out of debt first, but now I travel by selling things I don’t need, taking on extra work, and foregoing things like a cell phone and a vehicle.

      Reply
  9. I hadn’t heard of this mystery before. Art was my thing in high school, so this is a sad story for me. Maybe one day this mystery will have an answer.

    Reply
    • JH

      I hope so too, Patricia.

      Glad to find one you haven’t heard of. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Again you’ve stirred my curiosity Holli… Sad story and so sad also for his parents. ( I’m in the middle of reading a book where a young boy deliberately goes missing. His mother is an addict who supports her habit by bringing men home) I thought of him when reading about David.
    I have been to Spain but many years ago. Barcelona. If you can visit La Sagrada Familia I urge you to go. Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece of a church is breathtaking!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for the tip, Lisa! I’m really looking forward to seeing Spain.

      Welcome to the new blog. Hope to see you again.

      Reply
  11. Awesome opportunity for you in Spain!
    I would think he wouldn’t have wanted to miss his first exhibit. As to who took him, it could have been random.

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Alex.

      I’m very excited about the Spain workshop! Hoping I can entice some more IWSG folks…would be great to meet in person.

      Reply
  12. I go to Spain a lot because I have relatives there, and I have one–a cousin–in Malaga. She just wrote that she returned from Ireland just in time for the earthquake! Welcome home.

    I’m thinking of the Malaga adventure, but I have to wait until my May plan is organized. I’m supposed to be sailing in the West Indies, so it could be hard to make to both destinations.

    An eerie story you’ve written. Makes one want to know what happened to that young man and whether or not that image was really the man responsible for his disappearance.

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, I really hope you can make it, Lee! It would be awesome to meet you in person.

      Reply
  13. Yikes. This one is a real creeper. These unsolved stories draw me in and I get SO frustrated because I want to know what really happened!

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too, Stephanie. I hope some of them are resolved in my lifetime.

      Reply
  14. A trip to Spain sounds awesome. If only I had the $$. 3 spots left. Yikes! I hope there are spots open cone February 24th.

    I think that Swiss man was the culprit. He lured him by showing and telling the boy how talented he was. With impressionable children, that’s all it takes for them to fall into a creep’s trap.

    Reply
    • JH

      It seems most likely that it was the Swiss man, although the police found no evidence.

      If there’s enough interest in the Spain trip, Writers & Publishers Int. might be able to add more. There’s a break on the price if you’re able to share a room with someone.

      Reply
  15. I’m of the opinion he did go with the stranger and the stranger deposited of him somewhere along the way. That’s probably the sad truth.

    Reply
    • JH

      It’s the best theory anyone has, Crystal. No other leads, sadly. Poor David. 🙁

      Reply
  16. I wonder how many people who disappear are living good lives. Odds are they aren’t, but I’m an optimist and I hope for the best.

    Reply
    • JH

      That doesn’t seem to happen too often, at least in the cases we hear about, but I suppose there’s always hope. Maybe David has an amazing career as an artist somewhere…

      Reply
  17. You are terrific at your work! I am a novice in this field and it would really mean a lot to me if yo take a look at my blog “My Lemon Hues” and share your views. Thank you!

    Reply
  18. Hmm.. My comment do not seem to have showed up, so I try again.
    In the article it says that the hotel maid had atually seen David and the Swiss man together? Is this correct? The reason I am asking is because I have not seen this mentioned elsewhere; instead I have read that the reason she contacted the authorities is because she found a napkin with David’s full name in the Swiss man’s hotell room.
    For this conflicting reason, I am very interested to know which of it is the actual case?

    Reply
    • JH

      Sorry, Pikachu, but I wrote this post based on the information I discovered during my own research. I couldn’t say why there are conflicting reports on other blogs; I can only vouch for the information I presented.

      Reply
  19. Ah, Okay.
    Well, then I can in any case add that information, at least, that the hotel maid did find a napkin in the hotel room with David’s full name on. However if it would also be the case that she on top of that actually *saw* David and the Swiss man together, it would of course make him (the Swiss man) even more interesting as a potential suspect, as that would confirm that he actually met David.

    It is very unfortunate that the man was already dead at the time the investigators finally turned their attention to him, as they had otherwise been able to interrogate him.

    I will however see if I can somehow confirm that she actually saw them.

    Meanwhile, I attach the drawing in question that David had made that reminded of the Swiss man, for those interested in seeing it: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GkMs1oPxKLQ/Uj7PbafUOnI/AAAAAAAAAa0/TwI1FCzJ1sQ/s1600/Ni%C3%B1os+desaparecidos+El+ni%C3%B1o+pintor+y+el+ni%C3%B1o+de+Somosierra+009+_1__0003.jpg

    Reply
    • JH

      Okay, please let me know if you find out any more information.

      Reply

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