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CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION
Alonsos
Name Xavi and Simon Alonso
Type Serial Killers
Abductors
Torturers
Country of Origin Spain
Area of Operation Pamplona, Spain
Affiliation Each other
Leader Xavi Alonso
Modus Operandi Abduction and torture
Spinal cord severing
No. of Mutual Victims 5 killed
1 attempted
Appx no. of Members 2 (1 deceased, 1 incarcerated)
First Appearance El Toro Bravo

"Aah! Bulls were kings! They lived! They were gods!"
-Xavi Alonso

Xavi and Simon Alonso were a father-and-son serial killing team who appeared in El Toro Bravo.

Background Edit

Xavi and Simon were members of the Alonso family, a bloodline of fighting bull breeders that was prominent and well-respected in Spain. They owned a ranch, a bullring, and a bull herd outside Pamplona. In 2013, a global advocacy group run by Americans and Australians broke into their ranch to free the bulls. Two people were killed by the bulls, including one of the activists, and the bulls were slaughtered as a result. The Alonsos managed to keep the tragedy quiet, using news of a tragic factory fire that killed 100 people the following day as proper concealment.[1] Xavi left Pamplona with his wife Delores.[2]

However, after she died in 2014, Xavi returned to live at the bullring in secret, as the business still belonged to the family. The ruin of Xavi's family business and the damage to his social status caused him to snap and start serial killing with the help of Simon, who had coincidentally started working at a photography shop in the Old Quarter of Pamplona in 2014. The victims were three Australian tourists with no relation to each other, who were chosen because they violated the rules of the Running of the Bulls. They were abducted, tortured by Simon, and murdered by Xavi, who also instructed his son to leave the victims ears near Pamplona landmarks as a warning. While Simon didn't disobey his father, he told about the murders to a local Catholic priest named Consolmango under the Seal of Confession.

El Toro Bravo Edit

After claiming the lives of Australian nationals Harry Smith, Martin Brown, and Sam Jones, Xavi and Simon set their sights on an American victim named Clint Smith, who urinated on a local fountain before taking part in the first Bull Run. When Clint stumbles into an alley after separating from his friends, Simon blitz-attacks and incapacitates Clint with a cattle prod and drags him away without anyone noticing. Simon takes Clint to the bullpen of the Alonso bullfighting ring, ties him up, stabs him, and cuts his ears. Xavi orders Simon to kill Clint, which he does. Simon then leaves Clint's ears near a monument to the victims of the Pamplona riot of 1978, just outside Consolmango's church. Simon goes to the church the next day and confesses to the new murder, telling him that there was blood everywhere, he hurt his victim, and he couldn't stop. When the priest asks Simon if he seeks forgiveness, Simon doesn't respond and he leaves the church as the priest watches. Another day passes, and Xavi and Simon find their new victim near the photography shop where Simon works at during the day: Tony Downs, an animal activist from Chicago who they hear making disparaging remarks about the commercialization of the Running while talking to a friend. Xavi tells Simon that Tony is next and orders him to grab him, which he does. After abducting Tony, Xavi tells Simon that Tony deserves to suffer and orders Simon to kill him, which he does.

Afterwards, Xavi orders Simon to grind Tony's flesh until nothing but the bones is left, mix the flesh with fodder, and feed it to a bull, telling him that it is his "special meal" and that he'll "like it". Tony's ears are left in a side area inside Pamplona Cathedral. Later, Xavi and Simon abduct another victim, an Asian-American tourist named Robert Tanida. Garrett pays a visit to Consolmango, whom he suspects of knowing something about the murders, and convinces him to direct him to Simon. The IRT and the Spanish police show a picture of Simon at the Old Quarter and ask the civilians if they have seen him, but everyone denies it. While doing so, Simon spots the team while coming out of the photography shop and they spot him as well. They pursue Simon until Simmons tackles him. After handcuffing Simon, Detective Benjamin Esposito interrogates Simon in Spanish, asking him where he had taken the American victims, to which he replies something including the words "they are dead", "my family", and "I couldn't protect them". Esposito assumes that Simon is mentally ill and that all of the three men missing are already dead. He thanks the IRT for their help and bids farewell, reassuring them that his men will find the bodies.

While preparing to leave, however, the team realizes that Simon's submissiveness does not fit the profile and that he must have done the killings together with someone else. They conclude that the dominant party must be Simon's father because bullfighting is a family-run business and Xavi's whereabouts are unknown, although someone is still paying the mortgage on the Alonso family's bullfighting ring. That night, Xavi drags Robert to the ring. While being gagged, he begs Xavi to let him go. As Xavi is about to kill Robert, the IRT and the police track him down and hold him at gunpoint. Xavi tells them that the bulls were kings, they lived and they were gods. As Garrett tries to talk Xavi down, he says that his bulls defined San Ferman and his family didn't deserve such humiliation. As Xavi is about to stab Robert, Garrett shoots him twice, killing him, and saving Robert's life.

Modus Operandi Edit

Xavi and Simon targeted Australian and American tourists who came to Pamplona to take part in the annual Running of the Bulls, and who also disrespected the bulls or the event in some way. These victims were surrogates for the activists responsible for the deaths of Xavi's bulls. When the victims were alone, Simon would blitz-attack and incapacitate them with a cattle prod. The victims were then taken to the Alonso bullfighting ring, where they would have their arms tied to the inside of a bullpen that had electrified bars inside of it, to prevent them from escaping. After the victims were gagged, Simon would torture them by repeatedly electrocuting them with two cattle prods, cut their ears off with a puntilla, and drive banderilla stakes into their backs to weaken them. The ears would then be left at distinctive landmarks in Pamplona a day after each victim's abduction. The victims were all killed by Xavi, who would take them out into the ring and sever their spinal cords with the puntilla. Simon dismembered the victims' bodies, put their flesh in a meat grinder, and fed it to the family's bulls. The bones were presumably kept in the property until they were dumped six months later, in a highway ditch outside of the city.

Profile Edit

The unsub was originally believed to be working alone. He is a local male who is physically fit, based on the ages and sizes of the victims. He is challenging the San Fermín Cathedral, by leaving the ears of the latest victim inside of it. He may be trying to anointing himself God, which is an extreme form of narcissism. He will also be outspoken and very aggressive in his beliefs. Cutting of his victims' ears is his way of expressing rage and may be a scare tactic. Like most offenders, this unsub's anger is rooted in past conflict or trauma.

Real-Life ComparisonEdit

The Alonsos' crimes were likely inspired from the 2015 murder of American tourist Denise Pikka Thiem while she was walking down the Way of Saint James, another religious activity in Spain that had turned into a popular tourist attraction in the recent years. The convicted murderer, Miguel Ángel Muñoz Blas, has elements in common with both of the Alonsos: he was a Spanish farmer and a loner shunned by his neighbors, was believed to have untreated mental problems, hid a body in his property and mutilated it with farm machinery as a counter-forensic measure, and fled when he realized that he was a suspect, but confessed right after he was captured. Though Muñoz Blas wasn't a serial killer, he had a previous history of harassing foreign, non-American tourists prior to Thiem's murder, loosely mirroring how the Alonsos killed Australians before they switched to Americans. Furthermore, the FBI's help was offered while the investigation of Thiem's disappearance was underway, but the extent of American involvement in the investigation (if there was any) remains unclear. The Alonsos' last victim being Asian-American may be another nod to Thiem.

The Alonsos also seem partially based from John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, a.k.a. the Beltway Snipers. Both were serial killing teams formed by a dominant father (stepfather in Muhammad's case) and submissive son, who targeted people in one city and were speculated in the beginning to have a political motivation. Also in both cases, the dominant partner left "calling cards" in which he demanded to be seen as a god (speculated in Xavi Alonso, real in Muhammad), and the submissive expressed remorse and contacted a Catholic priest during their spree, who in turn provided the critical clue to identifying the killers.

Known Victims Edit

  • July 7-12, 2015, Pamplona, Spain (all abducted and tortured by Simon before being killed by Xavi):
    • July 7-8: Harry Smith
    • July 9-10: Martin Brown
    • July 11-12: Sam Jones
  • July 7-12, 2016, Pamplona, Spain (all incapacitated, abducted, and tortured by Simon):
    • July 7-8: Clint Smith (killed by Xavi)
    • July 9-10: Tony Downs (killed by Xavi like the previous victim)
    • July 11-12: Robert "Rob" Tanida (attempted, but survived; abducted, non-fatally tortured, and held at knifepoint by Xavi; was rescued)

NotesEdit

  • This is not the first time a piece of fiction depicted a serial killer acting during a Spanish holiday and inflicting bullfighting-inspired wounds as his M.O. British writer David Hewson published a novel with the same premise in 1995, Semana Santa ("Death in Seville"), in which one such killer acted during the Holy Week in Seville. The novel had a film adaptation in 2002.
  • Despite what is stated in the episode, the puntilla is not actually the de facto weapon for delivering the killing blow in bullfighting. Such weapon is the estoque, a sword with a sharp point but no edge, which is used to pierce the bull's heart. A matador who fails to kill the bull with the estoque and has to resort to the backup puntilla may be booed by the crowd, since this is considered poor performance. The expression "To give [something] the puntilla" has, however, entered the Spanish language as a synonym of killing blow or finishing action.
  • Xavi was named after the Basque footballer Xabi Alonso, according to the CBS website and a post in the show's official account on Facebook. Xabi Alonso writes his name with a "b", however, because the letter "v" does not exist in the Basque language. The name change might have been a result of confusion with Alonso's colleague in the Spanish national football team, Xavi Hernández, who is Catalan. In both cases, the name is a diminutive form of Xavier (or Xabier), while the fictional character seems to have it (rather unlikely) as his full name.
  • Erica Meredith, writer of El Toro Bravo, later wrote the episode Made In..., which is set in Bangladesh and features a fictional version of another massive industrial accident in that country.

AppearancesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Such death toll is actually extremely uncommon for a fire in Spain, where the last industrial fire to cause over 100 victims was the explosion of an army munitions depot in 1947. This plot point seems rather inspired by a factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 117 people in 2012.
  2. The correct spelling is Dolores, Spanish for "sorrows".

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