True crime documentary series have been popular in America for the past few years, and with this five-part series delivered to Netflix, the Spaniards have shown that they have a real horse to race. On November 13, 1992, three 15-year-old girls disappeared from the town of Alcasser near Valencia. Miriam, Toni and Desiree went to the city on Friday night and were never seen again, and only after 75 days of intensive searching were their bodies found in a ditch in the surrounding hills. But this shocking case remains extremely controversial in Spain because although the suspects of the brutal murders were soon found, the father of one of the girls continued his parallel investigation.
As much as “The Alcasser Murders” is a series about a gruesome crime, it is as much a series about Spanish society, but also society in general, because the media coverage of this case turned into unimaginable, worst exploitative sensationalism. Following first the situation surrounding the disappearance of the girls and then the investigation turned into a reality show before the reality show and everything that happened around this case is unimaginably grotesque. The broadcast of the girls’ funeral is still today among the most watched content on Spanish television ever, and this whole case has led to a complete loss of trust in institutions. Partly for a reason, and partly because of the appalling media manipulation that took place on various obscure, private television stations where the father of one of the girls was a guest every week in the company of a private detective he had hired, and they presented all kinds of crazy theories and accusations.
The official theory that the murder was committed by some ordinary, average guys did not satisfy the father, but he became convinced that it must be a much deeper and darker conspiracy. Somewhat in the footsteps of the American journalist Maury Terry, who years after David Berkowitz was convicted of the “Son of Sam” murders in New York in the late seventies, developed alternative theories, so here the father and his team also came up with similar theories that were completely different from the results of the official investigation. However, in this case, the vulture media played a key role and millions of people were able to watch various sick shows every week on television.
What was happening here even manages to surpass the American media vulture, and the good old Americans are known for the ostracization and exploitation of absolutely everything. This is at times excruciating, and from beginning to end a completely shocking and incredibly brutal documentary series, all the more interesting and complex because, in addition to trying to reconstruct the events, it also tries to capture a much broader picture. “The Alcasser Murders” tries to show how this whole horrible and sad case affected the entire media scene in Spain and how the media can really be used to manipulate the public. What is scariest of all, the official version of events is still believed by few people in Spain and many people are still inclined to believe various conspiracy theories.
In addition, this series subtly deals with conservatism and patriarchy in Spanish society because, as in probably many other countries, we see at the end how many violent deaths and murders of girls and women have happened there. And as always, today in societies quite similar to ours, the blame is partly placed on the victims because, of course, all those girls and women are partly to blame because they went out alone at night. Although I watched all kinds of true crime content, this series was an extremely shocking experience, also because it is obvious that the unfortunate father of one of the girls has completely lost his mind over time. This man is also one of the main interlocutors of the series, and what is most horrifying is the exploitation and vulture over the suffering, misfortune and tragedy of people who find themselves in such a situation.