The true story behind Netflix's The Playing Card Killer, Spain's most notorious serial killer.

Content warning: This story includes graphic depictions of violence that may be distressing to some readers.

Calling all true crime junkies, there's a new documentary coming to Netflix with an eerie twist that'll be sure to get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.

The Playing Card Killer is set to lift the grim lid on the infamous serial murders that took place in Spain in the early 2000s at the hands of Alfredo Galán. If you've never heard the name, or his famous moniker, you might be interested to dig a little deeper, so here's the full story behind the show. 

Watch: The official trailer of Netflix's The Playing Card Killer. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix.

Who is Alfredo Galán?

Alfredo Galán was born in the rural town of Puertollano in the South of Spain in 1978. As a child he was described as shy and introverted which only became more apparent after the death of his mother when he was around 10-years-old. With a father who mostly worked, he lacked parental guidance and as a result began to act out as a teenager.

Image: YouTube @ The Back of the Archive.


When Galán reached his 20s, he joined the Spanish Army and was based out of Madrid before being deployed for humanitarian work in Bosnia. It's here that he learned how to operate firearms and became obsessed with weapons. Upon returning to Spain, he managed to smuggle a pistol in his luggage which ended up being the weapon he used to unleash devastating atrocities.

After an altercation with one of his commanding officers, Galán was admitted to a hospital where he was treated for anxiety and neurosis. After receiving his mental health diagnosis he was subsequently discharged from the Spanish Army and began abusing his medications by mixing them with alcohol. Despite his struggles, Galán managed to land a job working as a security guard at the Madrid-Barajas Airport. But it would appear he had already begun his tragic trajectory into a modern day serial killer.


How he became 'The Playing Card Killer'.

Throughout history there have been some truly haunting names given to famous serial killers including Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac Killer, The Night Stalker and The Acid Bath Murderer. But there's something very creepy about attaching a fun game - playing cards - to a series of heartless murders. So how did Alfredo Galán come to be known as The Playing Card Killer?

On January 24, 2003, Alfredo Galán claimed his first victim - 50-year-old Juan Francisco Ledesma. Galán travelled just a few kilometres from where he lived to wait outside the building where Juan worked as a janitor. He followed him into the building before making him kneel, shooting him at point-blank range with a stolen pistol. 

At this point authorities believed the murder to be a robbery gone-wrong but Galán was working on finding his next victim. On February 5 that same year, a 28-year-old man named Juan Carols Martin Estacio was waiting for a bus in the early hours of the morning after finishing his night shift at Madrid Airport when he was brutally shot in a sneak attack at the hands of Galán. This time the murderer dropped an Ace of Cups card by the body as he fled the scene.

Image: Netflix.


That same day he claimed the lives of two more innocent victims, Mikel Jimenez Sanchez and Juana Dolores Uclés, both whom were shot again point-blank style at a bar in Madrid. He also shot Teresa Sánchez García, Mikel's mother, but fortunately she was able to survive her injuries despite witnessing her son murdered by a violent killer.

Once again, a playing card was left at the scene, this time a three of cups.

It would be a month before Alfredo Galán claimed his next victims, Eduardo Salas and Anahid Castillo Ruperti on March 7 at 2:30am. This time around he botched his attempts at committing murder although Salas sustained horrific gun-inflicted injuries. On March 18, Galán committed his final murders by taking the lives of a couple, Gheorgi and Diona Magda, who were returning home from work.


Once again, his calling cards were left behind. 

What happened to Alfredo Galán?

Following his final attacks, Alfredo Galán's family noticed he was behaving erratically and helped him get back on the medication he had stopped taking for his mental health issues. As media coverage about The Playing Card killer picked up steam and evidence from key eye-witnesses mounted, Galán eventually gave up hiding. In July 2003, Alfredo Galán presented himself to authorities and admitted he was The Playing Card Killer, responsible for the brutal shooting murders of six innocent victims.

It was later revealed that the playing cards were never intended to be his 'signature'. The first one had been dropped by mistake, and he'd continued to do so after the media had sensationalised this fact. 

Image: Netflix.


In September of that same year a trial was held where victims of his attempted homicide attacks were able to give eyewitness accounts identifying Alfredo Galán as the perpetrator. He was sentenced to 142 years and three months in prison. He is currently 45-years-old and serving his time in a Spanish prison.

If your interest has been piqued and you're not too spooked by this true crime tale, you can catch The Playing Card Killer when it lands on Netflix on June 9. You just might want to sleep with a nightlight on until then.

If you or someone you know is at risk of violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT.

And if you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature image: Netflix.

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