The human mind is a mysterious place. We have always been fascinated by mysteries and are curious to know the answers as to why people commit heinous crimes. Here we are telling you such a story. A story about a serial-killing bandit known as Diogo Alves. Born in Galicia in 1810, Alves moved to Lisbon in search of work. This was a common practice by Galicians who migrated southwards in hopes of a better job and life. When none of the work he took part in satisfied him, he turned his face towards the darkness. He learned that a life of crime paid more and was satisfying enough for him. Here’s the story of a man whose thirst for blood ended in a mysterious way.
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Between 1836 to 1839, Diogo Alves perpetrated several heinous crimes.
After moving southwards to Lisbon, Alves turned to a life of crime. In order to make massive profits from his crime business, Alves started looking for a new way. Aqueduto das Águas Livres, or the Aqueduct of the Free Waters, was a nearly one kilometer (0.62 miles) long bridge in Lisbon. The historic aqueduct is considered to be one of the most remarkable examples of 18th-century Portuguese engineering. The aqueduct was built by King John V, since Lisbon always suffered from lack of drinking water. Diogo Alves learned the importance of the bridge and utilized it for his own gain.
The Aqueduto das Águas Livres was used by farmers who travelled to the city to sell their produce.
The Aqueduto das Águas Livres had plenty of commuters every day. Most of them were humble farmers whose survival was solely based on the profits they made from selling produce in the city. Alves preyed on the innocent farmers when they returned from the city. He patiently waited all day for the farmers to return at night; and when they did, he took whatever steps necessary to steal their money.
Once he stole the profits, he would cold-heartedly push the men and women to their deaths. In a course of 4 years, Alves managed to prey on seventy innocent souls and lived off of their profits. Wives and children of the farmers who waited for them to return by nightfall, never saw them again.
The police considered the deaths to be suicidal and never suspected anyone.
At the time, the police never suspected a serial-killing bandit to be behind the deaths. They considered them to be suicidal; probably because of poverty among the farmers. However, in 1839, Alves stopped claiming lives. After retiring from Aqueduto, Alves shifted his focus from the poor to the rich. He found people who were as interested in making money as him, formed gangs and targeted private residents. In 1840, Alves and his accomplices broke into a physician’s home and murdered the people inside. Soon after the incident, he was caught and sentenced to hang in February of 1841.
After being caught, Diogo Alves was finally executed in 1841. During that time, phrenology (the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities) was being studied in Portugal. Physicians were trying to understand and learn an individual’s personality in physically distinct areas; including the shape of the skull. Since the case of Alves was popular during the time, phrenologists in Portugal requested his head to be severed and preserved in formaldehyde for examination. They wanted to determine whether there were any signs or abnormalities in the shape of his skull that could explain why he committed such heinous crimes.
Phrenologists wanted to understand criminal propensity by measuring his skull. Although many such studies were conducted through history, there is no evidence suggesting that phrenologists conducted any such study on Alves.
Today, Diogo’s well-preserved head remains in a glass jar at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medicine.
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