As a documentary series delving into one of Spain’s most infamous cases from the past two decades, Netflix’s Amanda Sans Pantling-directed ‘The Playing Card Killer’ is simply unlike any other. That’s because it comprises not just archival footage but also extensive interviews to really shine a light upon the atrocious ways of local military official turned serial killer Alfredo Galan Sotillo. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about him — with a specific focus on his background, his offenses, its overall aftermath, as well as his current standing — we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Alfredo Galan Sotillo?
It was reportedly back when Alfredo was a young boy growing up in the small town of Puertollano that he developed an interest in guns, only for it to continue expanding as the years passed. The truth is he never really had much direct parental guidance owing to the fact he lost his mother quite early and his father mostly worked, resulting in him forming his own moral compass. According to the original production, his grandmother was the one to then take care of him and his siblings, yet he remained rather introverted up until he found a sense of camaraderie in the military.
Alfredo actually enrolled in the Spanish Army at the age of 20 in 1998 due to his passion for firearms, just to soon find himself serving as a Corporal in Alcalá de Henares’ Parachute Regiment. It was from here that he was eventually deployed to Bosnia for humanitarian missions, where he ostensibly witnessed his fair share of atrocities, pain, suffering, black markets, and much more. However, per the docuseries, since he had his unit by his side, there were often times he was able to let loose, have fun, and even engage in a bit of thieving while cleaning up the local streets.
In fact, Alfredo admittedly swiped a 7.63 mm Soviet-special Tokarev semi-automatic handgun, which he then smuggled into Spain by shoving it inside the old-timey box television set in his pack. That’s when everything changed — he was supposed to go on a break following his return in late 2002 but was asked to remain on duty to help with the Prestige Oil Spill cleanup off Galicia’s coast. So it was while the youngster was working that he suddenly ran off to drag an older woman out of her car in an attempt to steal it before quickly being seized and sent to the Gómez Ulla Military Hospital.
Alfredo was thus officially diagnosed with repressed neurosis as well as panic-anxiety disorder, which wasn’t helped by his continued drinking and natural paranoia in any way, shape, or form. He consequently chose to be discharged from active service, leaving behind not only a few close friends but also his gradual, rising acquaintanceship with a group of extremist right-wing soldiers. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop the nearly 25-year-old from hustling as he quickly landed the position of a Security Guard at Madrid–Barajas Airport, all the while undergoing treatment and killing people with his Tokarev.
As per the show, Alfredo had six sessions with a psychiatrist to improve his mental health between January and March 2003, during which he also murdered five people plus harmed three more. It was at one such crime scene in February that he mistakenly dropped a playing card, the sensationalization of which drove him to continue doing so after leaving a mark on them as his signature. Though the strangest part of it all is he himself walked into a Puertollano station on July 3, 2003, to confess while under the influence — strange because officials were allegedly nowhere close to catching him on their own.
Where is Alfredo Galan Sotillo Now?
Alfredo did attempt to retract his admission when sober the following morning, yet an ensuing search of his home yielded incriminating markers as well as cartilage matching the murder weapon. He was hence indicted for his actions, only to later claim he’d long sold his firearm to two dangerous individuals who’d recently been forcing him to take the fall in exchange for not harming his siblings. However, since there was no evidence suggesting the same, except maybe the missing Tokarev, this theory was tossed away by the state court, and the former military corporal was ordered to stand trial.
In the end, Alfredo was seemingly found guilty of five counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, three counts of criminal injury, plus one count of illegal firearm possession. He was then sentenced to 142¼ years in a state correctional facility, following which he began prioritizing his health, changed his first name to Ruben, and even began writing to pass some time.
As for his current standing, the incarcerated serial killer, alleged narcissist, and “monster” with no regard for human life is a published author — he released a fictional novel in 2016. Plus, he is actually up for parole in 2028, meaning he’ll likely step into freedom upon serving half his life (25 years) behind bars.