As he was convicted for murdering two girls and a young woman, Alex Henriquez stood before a New York City judge and insisted: “I had no reason to take any of these children’s lives.”
Nearly 30 years on, the triple serial killer continues to protest his innocence as he meets Piers Morgan for ITV’s Crime and Punishment season.
Jessica Guzman, 10, was found dead in October 1990, a week after she disappeared a few blocks from her home in the Bronx. She had been strangled and her body was dumped near a highway.
Shamira Bello, 14, was found strangled in July 1988 and Lisa Ann Rodriguez, 21, was found in June 1990, though her body was so decomposed the cause of death could not be determined.
Their deaths prompted the NYPD to put together a task force to investigate the string of murders that had haunted the area for two years. Though at the time the police strenuously denied the deaths were the work of a serial killer, Henriquez, a successful local businessman who was the last person to see Jessica and was known to the other victims, soon became their prime suspect.
Visiting Henriquez, who is serving 75 years for the three murders at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York State, Morgan asks him: “See I have to decide, Alex, are you just a guy in prison now as an innocent man or am I looking at somebody who did do that? In which case you’re one of the worst people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Henriquez maintains he was made a scapegoat by the NYPD, who were under pressure to capture a killer, and that he is an innocent man.
Morgan’s exploration of the case brings him to James Fitzgerald, a legend in the FBI and the man who caught the Unabomber and who helps expose psychological clues in Henriquez’s behaviour.
Fitzgerald said: “Psychopaths like control. They don’t want to be controlled, they want to control others and they’ll do anything within their power, through lies, through manipulation, through even violence to get those points across. To them it just makes sense because it’s what got them this far in life in a sort of successful method of surviving.”
Henriquez’s 75-year sentence did not begin until he completed two other sentences, including five to 15 years for an armed robbery in Manhattan and two to four years for scalding the three-year-old son of his former wife, Andrea Rosario.
He was also considered a suspect but was not charged in three other deaths.
A juror who sat on Henriquez’s six-week trial revealed: “I keep calling him a gentleman, I don’t know why but that’s the way I was brought up, but this piece of garbage... he was always there; he was always around where things happen.
“You know, you say coincidence, coincidence happens every once in a while. Everybody in that jury room knows that he did it and he knows that he did it. There was no other person that could have done it but him.”
Serial Killer with Piers Morgan airs at 9pm on Thursday 13 September on ITV.