A Peruvian national has been arrested on suspicion of murdering an 80-year-old Spanish priest accused of paying male migrants for sex.
Alfonso López Benito, a former canon of Valencia Cathedral, was found dead and naked in his bed at his home on Avellanas Street in the city center by friends on Tuesday. A post-mortem concluded he had died of asphyxiation and had been deceased for several days.
Authorities detained a 40-year-old suspect around 24 hours after the body was discovered after he attempted to use the victim’s bank card in a local bar.
The investigation found that the victim’s mobile phone had also been taken from the crime scene and the suspect is accused of sending several WhatsApp messages posing as the priest to his contacts with the intention of delaying the discovery of the body.
A further message was sent to the janitor of the priest’s apartment building explaining he would be leaving Valencia for a few days. However, the victim’s body had already been recovered by this point enabling police to trace the message and close in on their prime suspect.
It is understood the migrant had been in a sexual relationship with his victim and the priest had been asked to stop inviting men back to his apartment — owned by the Catholic Church — by other residents.
El País newspaper reported that the late priest regularly brought “young people to his home, with few resources and who lived on the streets. On some occasions, they had caused a nuisance in the building and caused an incident.”
“The investigations are continuing by the Homicide Group of the Provincial Brigade of Judicial Police of Valencia,” read a police statement.
The Archbishopric of Valencia expressed its regret for “this sad death and we are at the disposal of the authorities in case the collaboration of the archbishopric could serve to clarify the facts.”