Former Colombian police officer who burnt and buried his wife’s body convicted of murder
A former Colombian police officer who killed his wife, burnt her body and buried her in a shallow grave has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and will serve a minimum of 19 years.
Luz Margory Isaza Villegas, 50, was reported missing in January this year after family members became concerned she wasn’t answering their calls.
Later that day 55-year-old Rodridgo Giraldo asked their son Julian to come round to their house. When Julian arrived, Giraldo was making little sense and told his son “your mum has gone, maybe she will never come back again.” Later in the evening, he told his daughter “Yo la mate” which means “I have killed her".
Giraldo told police that that Ms Villegas had left that morning following an argument and insisted he had been searching for his wife and had not hurt her. However, four days later, mobile phone data led police to woodland near Berkhamsted, Hertsfordshire where they found Ms Villegas’ burnt body buried in a suitcase.
Nick Ramage of the CPS said: “Giraldo wove a web of lies about what he had done to his wife, initially telling his son and daughter he had killed her and then changing his story as new evidence came to light.
“Her family have to live with the awful knowledge of how he tried to dispose of her body. My thoughts remain with everyone who has suffered so much at Giraldo’s hand.”
Giraldo confessed to burning and burying Ms Villegas’ body, but continued to deny killing her. Today, he has been found guilty of her murder.
Building the case
The Prosecution relied on a range of evidence, including CCTV footage, post-mortem findings, and witness statements, to build their case for trial.
Nick Ramage continued: “We presented the court with a picture of what had happened to Ms Villegas through CCTV footage and phone data, supported by witness accounts and the findings of the post mortem. This evidence proved that Giraldo was involved in her murder, and enabled the jury to see through his lies and find him guilty.”
On the morning of his wife’s disappearance Giraldo was captured on CCTV moving his car out of view of the cameras down an alleyway that led to his back garden. The prosecution’s case was that having killed Ms Villegas, this was when he moved her body into his car.
Later CCTV captured Giraldo wearing a blue latex glove as he disposed of his wife’s credit cards, baby clothing and another similar latex glove in a bin before he drove off with the couple’s foster baby.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and CCTV footage showed that instead of driving around Hemel to look for his wife, Giraldo had headed to Northchurch Common, where police later discovered Ms Villegas’ body. Phone data showed that both of their phones were taken to the Common at that time.
Following the post-mortem, the cause of Ms Villegas’ death was recorded as unascertained. However, it showed that she had a number of injuries to her face and neck which were likely to have been inflicted by another person, and which the prosecution argued were caused when Giraldo strangled or smothered her.
Notes to editors
- Nick Ramage is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern
- Roberto Giraldo, DOB 1/9/1963, was convicted of murder at St Albans Crown Court on 29 July 2019.