Serial killer ‘The Beast’ lured hundreds of boys with sweets and butchered them

One of the world's worst serial killers who is believed to have raped, tortured, and murdered up to 400 young boys is counting his days to freedom.

Luis Garavito, who has confessed to butchering 138 victims in Colombia, has spent just 22 years in jail and now his freedom could be on the horizon.

For seven years the sick paedo monster – who the press dubbed "The Beast" – carried out depraved attacks on hundreds of boys which were so sickening the details cannot be fully reported.

But what made Garavito a monster, and how did he escape justice for so long?

His childhood was the stuff of nightmares. His abusive alcoholic father would force him to watch his prostitute mother servicing clients.

He was then abused by paedophiles for years and soon began abusing his own younger brothers and sisters and other boys. He also began killing animals and playing with their bodies.

Aged 16, he fled the family hell home and began to move around the country working various jobs.

But the damage was done. Despite becoming a loving father himself, he was also an alcoholic with various mental health issues who spent five years in psychiatric hospitals.

He also never stopped abusing boys. He would later write their names in a blue notebook and pray for them while beating his chest. He also became obsessed with Adolf Hitler and concentration camps.

Soon the killings started.

Garavito would dress himself in various disguises, such as a priest or street vendor, roam the country and target boys between the ages of six to 13 who were either homeless, peasants, or had been orphaned. He would lure them to quiet places by promising them money, sweets or some work and then abduct them.

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What he would do to the boys is too sickening to fully report, but often they were tortured and raped for days before being beheaded. Sometimes he would return to their corpses after a day or two to try and further satisfy his sick urges.

With Colombia in the middle of a civil war, and Garavito moving from area to area, few noticed dozens of children were disappearing.

Eventually though, the death toll got so high his killings were bound to be discovered.

By 1997, mass graves containing 42 bodies had been found.

An investigation was launched and the following year police had a stroke of luck. At the latest body site, which contained three young corpses, as usual The Beast had left behind the murder weapon, male clothing and empty bottles of booze. But he had also dropped a piece of paper with the address of his girlfriend on.

When police went to the home, she said she had not seen him for months, but in his possessions police discovered a book containing pictures of young boys, detailed journals of his murders and a running total of his number of victims.

The hunt was on. By chance, when Garavito tried to abduct another boy, he was stopped by a homeless man, arrested and charged with attempted rape. The Beast was finally behind bars.

After being confronted with DNA evidence, Garavito confessed to killing 140 children and was sentenced to 1,853 years and 9 days in prison, the lengthiest sentence in Colombian history. It is believed he butchered hundreds more.

Since 1999 he has been in isolation in a maximum-security prison, knowing he would be dead within hours if he was put with other prisoners.

He will only eat food given to him by those he trusts and and when released, says he wants to become a politician with the aim of helping abused children.

Despite being originally sentenced to remain in jail until the year 3852, Colombian law at the time of his sentencing said the maximum anyone could serve was 40 years.

With good behaviour and because he helped officers locate his victim's bodies, it was widely reported he would be released later this year.

However, the law has since been changed and legal wrangling is now taking place over when, if ever, he should be released, with some reports suggesting he might serve less than two more years.

Many will hope The Beast is never freed.

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