For my first true crime story, where we know who did it (although the why might be a little fuzzy), I decided to go with someone you probably haven't heard of.... And is a woman.
Male serial killers get a lot of attention, but Magdalena ended up with the title "High Priestess of Blood." The lesson here is: anyone can be a serial killer. And I would probably like to add the caveat that anyone can be a serial killer, especially when they're involved in a cult.
I heard about this one from a show on Youtube called "Murder with Friends." They've covered Charles Manson and Elizabeth Bathory, and I think this one sort of combines the two.
Magdalena Solis's story has the cult aspect of Manson and the absolute buckets of blood and gore from Bathory.
Big trigger warnings for blood, gore, and sexual abuse.
But what's interesting is, Magdalena isn't even a part of the cult to begin with. The cult began with Santos and Cayetano Hernandez in 1962. The criminal brothers were hoping to take advantage of the poor and generally illiterate town of Yerba Buena in Mexico. They sold themselves as prophets and priests of Incan gods, promising the people wealth hidden in the mountains if they paid the brothers tribute.
The people went along and were sexually abused by the brothers for a few months, but the people grew impatient with not receiving their power or treasure. So, they looked into local female sex workers to join in their scam. They met Magdalena Solis and her brother, bringing the two of them into the mix.
She was billed as a high priestess, and the power seemed to go to her head. The cult's drug-fueled orgies escalated and continued.
But even with the new additions, some people wanted to leave. Solis turned the rest of the cult on the first two people who wanted to leave, lynching them on the spot.
That seemed to ignite a thirst for blood in Magdalena. From then on, when someone expressed dissent they would be used in a blood sacrifice, based on Aztec rituals.
The sacrifice involved:
- Beating, burning, maiming by the cult members
- Bloodletting (until the victim died)
- Animal Sacrifice
- Hallucinatory drug use
- each member of the cult drinking from the chalice of human and animal blood
Towards the end of the sacrifices, the ritual also involved cutting out the victim's heart while they were still alive (it makes Temple of Doom sound like a Disney princess movie).
But this escalation of the ritual will come into play for the cult's last two victims.
By now, the cult was operating out of a cave in the mountains near the town. In May of 1963 Sebastian Guerrero, a 14 year old from the town (the town was still there, only a fraction had left to join the cult), wandered too close to that cave. What he saw propelled him to run 17 miles to the nearest police station, describing the cult as:
The police laughed it off, sending one officer off with the boy the next day to take him home. Along the way, the Guerrero was able to show the officer where he had seen the so-called vampires.
The Guerrero and the officer were never seen—alive—again.
After the officer didn't return, the police were finally alarmed. The police finally sent a team—along with the army—to the site. They found the officer with his heart ripped out and the mutilated body of Guerrero. After a shootout, they were able to arrest Solis and her brother, sentencing them for 50 years each for the two murders.
They could not connect them to other killings by the cult because the surviving members of it would not testify against them. The other members received 30 years each, however, for their involvement.
When I first saw the video for this one, especially with the thumbnail you can see above, I was expecting some ancient religious sect—or to just be discussing the Aztecs. I was definitely not expecting something as recent as the 1960s. I also have a fascination with female killers (Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden is perfection), and couldn't believe I had never come across Solis.
As a sex worker with an impoverished childhood, this was Solis's chance to be in power, be in control. It reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials, where I also see a case of women (girls) taking advantage at, perhaps, the only chance they would have to be in a position of power. And Solis was sure to see just how far she could push that power.
Had you heard of Solis? Does she remind you of any other cases (she clearly reminded me of a lot)?