Twenty-one-year-old Mark Kilroy spent the first few months of 1989 joyfully looking forward to the getaway he and three pals had planned for Spring Break.
It was Kilroy’s second semester of his junior year as a premed student at the University of Texas. So come March 11, when school let out — oh, yes — party time had arrived. Kilroy and his friends booked a Sheraton suite in South Padre Island, a popular gathering spot of Spring Break celebrants right on the Texas-Mexico border.
The first couple of nights went great. The guys hit the beach, made the bar scene, chatted up women, and successfully crashed back at the hotel early each morning — hungover and a bit party-hardened, maybe, but all in one piece.
Alas, on March 14, Mark Kilroy simply vanished. He had been walking with the others toward a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande into the Mexican revelry district of Matamoros. Kilroy lagged a bit behind with a friend who ducked into an alley to relieve himself. When the friend stepped back out, Mark was gone.
The next time anyone would see Mark Kilroy, four weeks later, he had literally been torn to pieces.
After Kilroy’s buddies sent word he was missing, his parents came in from Santa Fe to mount a massive search. Not a trace turned up until April 1, when police picked up a low-level local drug goon named Serafin Hernandez Garcia, aka “Little Serafin,” at a routine checkpoint.
Little Serafin led authorities to Rancho Santa Elena, a stinking, filth-encrusted compound occupied by members of Los Narcos-Satanicos — i.e., the Satanic Drug Gang — a cartel/cabal whose name says it all.
Once inside the ranch, Little Serafin admitted to abducting Mark Kilroy and participating in his ritual dismemberment and murder, explaining, “It was our religion, our voodoo. We did it for success. We did it for protection.”
What Little Serafin and his fellow Satanic Drug compadres did, in fact, was torture and rape Kilroy for hours before their leader whipped out a machete and chopped off the top of the American student’s skull. The cult members then scooped out Kilroy’s brain matter and boiled it in a blood-filled cauldron with a tortoise shell, a horseshoe, and a human spine. The gang also ripped Kilroy’s heart from his chest and buried his remains in one of many impromptu graves scattered around the site.
When Little Serafin led investigators to where Kilroy’s remains were buried, they found a wire sticking up from the ground. According to Texas Monthly, “The other end of the wire had been attached to Kilroy’s spinal column so that when his body decomposed, members of the cult could pull out the vertebrae to make into a necklace.”
Los Narcos-Satanicos’ particular faith was “Payo Mayombe,” an African-rooted mixture of Santeria, ancient Aztec practices, Haitian-style voodoo, and straight-up devil worship. Blood rites, as one might expect, abound.
Over the next three days, the extent of Los Narcos-Satanicos’ sacrificial atrocities came to light. To honor their dark deities, the cult butchered countless cats, dogs, chickens, snakes, goats, and even zebras and a lion club, before moving on to slaughtering rival outlaws and, eventually, Mark Kilroy.
With worldwide press representatives on hand, police ordered the gangsters to dig up other bodies that they had mangled and buried. Remains of 13 to 15 sacrifices (it was never entirely determined) got pulled from the ground.
Each victim had fallen prey to Los Narcos-Satanicos’ belief that by upping the numbers and intensity of their ritual killings, the gang would become impervious to bullets and bombs, and eventually gain sufficient supernatural powers to conquer the entire planet. That is not, of course, what happened.
Authorities rounded up the local Los Narcos-Satanicos sadsacks and tossed them to whatever horrible fates must have awaited them in Mexican prisons.
A frantic international manhunt commenced, then, for the gang’s two terrifying overlords: Adolfo de Jesus Costanzo, known as El Padrino (“The Godfather”), 26; and Sara Aldrete, known as La Bruja (“The Witch”), 24. The pair ruled Los Narcos-Satanicos as the cult’s all-powerful high priest and high priestess.
Costanzo was a Cuban-American who grew up in Miami. Aldrete hailed from Mexico and, shockingly, led a double life as a honor student at Texas Southmost College by day, cannibalistic narcotics cult sorceress by night. For the next few weeks, though, El Padrino and La Bruja lived and scrambled as a couple on the lam from justice.
The chase went on until May 6, 1989. Constanzo and Padrino had holed up in a Mexico City apartment with four underlings. An unrelated dispute in the building brought officers to their door. In the ensuing firefight, Costanzo ordered his second-in-command to kill him. He did. Police arrested the others, including Sara Aldrete.
At present, La Bruja is serving 30 years for multiple killings that took place at Rancho Santa Elena. If Aldrete ever makes it out of jail, American authorities say they will prosecute her for the murder of Mark Kilroy. One can only wonder if her faith has been shaken.
Main photo: Mark Kilroy/MarkKilroyFoundation.org [promotional image]