The Story of the Argentine Window Vampire

Samuel Sullivan

In the 1950s, Florencio Roque Fernández stalked and killed women in their homes.

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(Dracula (1931) Spanish-language film poster/Wikipedia Commons)

In 1897, the Irish author Bram Stoker introduced the world to the vampire with his gothic horror novel Dracula. The story of Florencio Roque Fernández, who stalked the nights of Monteros, Argentina, in the 1950s, begs the question: Are vampires real?

In the Tucumán province of Argentina, a mysterious figure stalked and killed women in their homes. According to Daniel Santa Cruz in La Nacion, “The Monteros Vampire” or “The Window Vampire” killed fifteen women between January 1953 and his capture on February 14th, 1960.

The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Harold Schechter details the killer's vampirish modus operandi. He would slip through the windows of sleeping women and:

“Attacked them in their beds — pinioning their arms, biting into their throats, and drinking their blood.”

A Vampire Haunts Monteros

In the 1950s, the small town of Monteros in the Tucumán province of Argentina was the perfect place for a vampire to find victims. According to Santa Cruz, one simple fact made this town vulnerable was most townspeople left their windows open all summer to combat the heat.

According to Por José Luis Cutello in La Gaceta, in early 1953, a landlady was found dead in her bedroom. The deceased had head trauma, but she died from blood loss. She had deep neck wounds. They were human-sized bite-marks. She slowly died on the floor of her bedroom as her blood seeped from her body.

A month later, another woman was found dead in similar circumstances. She had bite-marks on her neck and bled to death from her wounds. Her trachea was severed, and a bloody hammer and broken broomstick were found at the scene.

According to Cutello, the quiet and safe Monteros turned into a small hell with rumors about real-life vampires. Panic set in, and newspapers around Argentina published stories about the “The Window Vampire.”

The vampire was patient and seemingly risk-averse. The regularity of the attacks was unpredictable. He could strike twice in two months or not reappear for a year. Over the course of seven years in the shadows, fifteen women were stalked and murdered.

Santa Cruz detailed that once the Monteros vampire chose a victim, he would follow her for several nights. He would watch her in the dark and bide his time until she was alone in her house. He would enter through the windows at night, surprise the women, and kill them.

Catching the Vampire

The window vampire baffled local Monteros police for years. According to Cutello, one detective speculated that the killer was a high-class, educated, and intelligent man who outwitted police efforts. One thing was clear; the killer was adept at covering his tracks.

The perpetrator's ability to travel without leaving tracks only fueled the townspeople's fear of a vampire in their midst. According to Santa Cruz, townspeople hung large crucifixes in their homes and had priests sprinkle rooms with holy water. Some people went as far as to keep sharpened sticks in their homes to fight back against the vampire if he were to attack.

Enough was enough, and federal investigators from Buenos Aires were called in to assist with the case. The investigators decided to draw up a map of all the attacks and found they all occurred at a similar distance from an abandoned area on the town's outskirts.

The officers searched the area and found a young man living inside a cave. The man was in poor physical health, and when police tried to bring him into the sunlight, he recoiled. The date was February 14th, 1960, and it was three months after the fifteenth victim was found murdered.

According to Schechter, “He lived in a cave, prowled the night in a black Dracula-like cloak, and spent the daylight hours sunk in a comalike sleep.”

Who was the Vampire?

The young man turned out to be 25-year-old Florencio Roque Fernández. According to Santa Cruz, Fernández lived in a cave for years. He had a bad diet and poor hygiene. His mental health also immediately became a question.

Fernández went through psychiatric tests and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. According to Schechter, Fernández suffered from “severe vampiric delusion.”

The Mayo Clinic categorizes the symptoms of schizophrenia as experiencing delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking or speech, abnormal motor behavior, and other negative symptoms such as not functioning normally. Fernández exhibited all the main symptoms of schizophrenia, and unfortunately, he never received treatment for his mental illness until after he murdered so many.

He also had photophobia or the fear of light. His photophobia made him fearful of sunlight. He lived nocturnally, and he lived devoid of human contact apart from his murders.

He was determined to be not fit to stand trial for his murders and was committed to a mental institution where he lived the rest of his life.

When Florencio Roque Fernández was caught in 1960, he was 25-years-old. He had been a murderer his whole adult life and killed his first victim when he was only 17-years-old.

Are Vampires Real?

By 1935, the year Florencio Roque Fernández was born, Hollywood was already producing a sequel to Dracula (1931). As there were no subtitles or voiceovers, some films were shot by a different cast and crew using the same sets to provide audiences a movie in a different language. According to IMDb, Drácula (1931) was a product of that practice. The movie starred Carlos Villarías and can still be found today.

It is possible a young Florencio Fernández saw Drácula in his small town of Monteros in the Tucumán province of Argentina. It explains some of the behaviors that resulted from his schizophrenia. His modus operandi of stalking his victims, sneaking into their windows, attacking them, and biting their throats are strikingly similar to Dracula's actions from the movies.

Fernández’s photophobia and solitude made him difficult to catch. He never walked around in the daylight. He only stalked his victims in the cover of darkness. Nobody saw him, so no one suspected him. Only after 15 victims and seven years did police finally catch the serial killer.

If the vampires portrayed in Bram Stoker’s Dracula are real, Florencio Roque Fernández was not one. He was merely an abandoned, destitute young man suffering from delusions due to his untreated schizophrenia. If Fernández had received proper mental health treatment, the lives of his victims could have been saved.

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