Burning Body: Is Detective Ester Varona Based on a Real Detective?


Netflix’s true crime drama, ‘Burning Body’ follows the investigation into a convoluted case with relationships complicated by secrets and lies. At the heart of the story is a woman named Rosa Peral, whose partner, Pedro Rodriguez, is found dead in the back of his car, which is burned beyond recognition. Initially, Rosa appears as a heartbroken, grieving woman who mourns the loss of the man she called the love of her life. However, as the investigation proceeds, a different side of Rosa surfaces.

In the Netflix series, the investigation is headed by Ester Varona from the Criminal Investigation Department for the Mossos d’Esquadra. She looks at the case from every angle, poking into the loopholes in everyone’s stories and prodding the truth out of them one way or another. She becomes instrumental in solving the case and bringing the truth to light. If you want to know more about Ester Varona, we’ve got you covered.

Is Ester Varona a Real Person?

Ester Varona in ‘Burning Body’ is not based on any particular person but seems to be a composite character who represents the detectives and police officers who were involved in the investigation of Pedro Rodriguez’s murder. While the show is based on a true story, it takes creative liberties and has changed a few things for dramatic purposes. The character of Ester Varona is one of the fictional touches given to the story, but it is rooted in reality.

Pedro Rodriguez was found dead in May 2017 in the back of his car, which was reportedly in such a bad state that there was nothing to identify the dead body or any other DNA evidence. The only lead the cops had was the chassis number of the car and the prosthetic that the fire didn’t destroy. After running both numbers, it was confirmed that the vehicle and the body were Rodriguez’s. Later, the investigation revealed that the murder occurred in the early hours of May 2, 2017.

Once the victim’s identity was confirmed, the cops started looking into the people in his life, starting with Rosa Peral. Reportedly, she initially tried to put the blame on her ex-husband, with whom she has two daughters, but when his alibi was confirmed, the attention turned completely towards Peral. Why would she try to misdirect the police? What was she hiding?

A quick look into Peral’s past revealed her relationship with Albert Lopez, a fellow officer with whom she worked closely as they were patrol partners for a while. Both Rosa and Albert claimed that they were never officially together and had been out of touch since she got together with Pedro. However, when their phone logs were checked, and the messages were analyzed, it turned out that things were not what they seemed. Peral and Lopez were in touch with each other through calls and messages, and Lopez’s phone history put him at Peral’s house on the day of the murder. More evidence led the cops to build the theory that Peral and Lopez had conspired to kill Pedro.

When Peral and Lopez were arrested, they blamed each other for the murder, trying to wash their hands from the whole thing. Peral claimed that Lopez killed Pedro and threatened to hurt her and her daughters if she told anyone about it. In turn, Lopez claimed that by the time he showed up at Peral’s place, Pedro was already dead, and he only helped her burn the body because they were together and he cared for her.

As shown in the series, the investigation was conducted by the officers of Mossos d’Esquadra, who collected incontrovertible evidence to prove that both Peral and Lopez were involved in the murder. They speculated that the suspects might have gotten back together and would have wanted to get Pedro out of the way, so they killed him. Apart from the cell phone records, they had evidence from the crime scene that was Peral’s basement room, Pedro’s phone, which was found in her possession and through which she sent messages to make people think he was still alive. Moreover, the fact that Peral and Lopez had initially stuck to a similar story proved they were in on it together. All of this was uncovered by the detailed investigation conducted by the Mossos d’Esquadra officers. In ‘Burning Body,’ Ester Varona represents them and their work.

Read More: Where Are Rosa Peral’s Daughters Now?