Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part 2

FBI Forensic Assistance

On April 1, 2001, after 17 months in custody, authorities were forced to release Sister Leticia Lopez.  The General Office of the judge advocate found there was insufficient evidence to keep her in custody and ordered her immediate release.  Nonetheless, investigators were certain of Lopez's guilt and continued to search for clues.  Their determination eventually paid off and they soon discovered microscopic particles of blood between the floorboards of the victim's room.  Unfortunately, the Colombian authorities didn't possess forensic equipment capable of running the same tests on Lopez's room, which she had scrubbed with detergent and repainted.  The prosecutor's office contacted the FBI in the United States and appealed for help.     

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During November of 2001, U.S. forensic experts traveled to Colombia, bringing with them some of the most advanced tools available to the FBI.  Soon after their arrival, they were taken to the convent and escorted to Lopez's room where they began conducting a battery of chemical tests on the floors and walls.  According to reports in The Irish Independent, it did not take long for the American investigators to detect blood spatters on the wall beneath the new paint, as well as a trail where the body of Granada had been dragged through the convent's corridors to the back door.  They also discovered fragments of bone in the paint, which were virtually invisibly to the naked eye.  "In that room, in that house, occurred a violent act, and you can see signs of where a body was pulled across the floor," said one of the investigators.  Later that day Lopez was rearrested and charged with Sister Luz Amparo's murder.

On January 23, 2002, Sister Leticia Lopez was found guilty by a Colombian court and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.  After her sentencing, Lopez maintained her innocence and told reporters from the BBC that the court committed a "serious injustice" against her.

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