The monster everyone loved
Altemio Sanchez was the family man who was hiding something.
Afamily man who was devoted to his local community and happily opened up his home on the weekends to throw BBQ’S for his neighbours.
‘The nicest person you’d ever want to meet,’ one would later describe him.
Hardworking Altemio Sanchez was respected by everyone and was the first to put his hand up to help.
It never even crossed anyone’s mind that Sanchez seemed too good to be true – but he was.
Behind his perfect persona, the dad-of-two was hiding a very disturbing character.
One that police would call The Bike Path Killer.
Sanchez was a prolific rapist and serial killer who struck fear into the local women using remote pathways.
Even worse, he was free to carry on while someone else was behind bars for crimes that he’d committed.
Sanchez, 48, lived in Buffalo, New York, with his unsuspecting wife, Kathleen.
For 20 years, he’d been a diligent factory worker.
Colleagues said he was mildmannered, and never complained over taking on the unsociable night shifts.
Outside of work, Sanchez was the basketball coach of one of his son’s school teams, and a Little League baseball coach.
He’d potter about his garden on the weekends and play golf with his buddies.
People would even call him ‘Uncle Al’ because of his kind and friendly ways.
But Uncle Al was also the man that the authorities knew only as The Bike Path Killer.
A predator who raped and strangled women to death as they travelled on secluded bike paths.
His first victim was Linda Yalem, 22, in September 1990.
She was a student who was out on a training jog to prepare for the New York City Marathon.
Linda was later found dead along the Ellicott Creek Bike Path. She’d been raped and strangled. Next to be chosen by Sanchez was Majane Mazur, 32, in 1992.
She was also raped and strangled, then dumped on a secluded path near a railway line. Sanchez wasn’t a suspect. In 1996, he even entered a memorial run set up in Linda Yalem’s memory.
Police recorded it looking for clues, but he was just another face in the crowd.
For years, it seemed as if he’d stopped.
But then Joan Diver, 45, disappeared in September 2006.
She was a nurse and mum of four who had been jogging along the bike path.
Joan, the wife of a chemistry professor, was later found beaten to death in the same place and exactly 16 years to the day of his first victim Linda.
But she hadn’t been raped like the others.
It’s believed she died before she could be, after bravely fighting to the very end.
But DNA tied her
killing to the others. The Bike Path Killer had announced his return.
The local police set up a task force to look into the cases that had run cold.
Over the years, there were countless rapes – women that Sanchez had raped and strangled almost to death, but they’d managed to escape. Incredibly, an innocent
He was another face in the crowd
Capozzi, 29, was serving time in prison for two of the rapes that Sanchez had committed.
Sanchez was getting away with it and not just through luck.
He meticulously planned out his brutal attacks.
He would even leave duct tape to cover his victims’ eyes in places near the killing ground so he could grab it easily when he pounced.
When Sanchez struck from behind without warning, his victims didn’t stand a chance.
He’d use a rope or steel cord to squeeze the life from them.
In 1991 and 1999, Sanchez was arrested and fined for soliciting prostitutes in the area.
Slipping through the net again, but it did give him a record.
Investigators were going through old files when they came across a car number plate that a rape victim had reported seeing, driving from the scene.
It belonged to Sanchez’s uncle – who told them his nephew had been driving it.
They were sure they’d found their serial killer.
All they needed was his DNA to match with eight different crime scenes in the area.
On the night of January 3, 2017, they went undercover in a Latin
American restaurant that Sanchez was
dining in with his wife. Kathleen hadn’t a clue who she was married to.
Once they’d left, an officer took Sanchez’s glass and cutlery and matched the DNA. They’d got him. The community were stunned and convinced police had the wrong man.
How could churchgoing ‘Uncle Al’, who volunteered to help anyone and was so polite, be a serial rapist and a calculated killer?
It had to be a mistake. But
in May 2007, Altemio Sanchez pleaded guilty to the murders of the three women.
While admitting raping between 13 to 20 women during the early 1980s, US law at the time said that too much time had passed and he couldn’t be prosecuted for them.
‘Whatever sentence I get today I deserve,’ he said in court. He was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.
His stunned wife sobbed during the proceedings. Wrongly
Altemio Sanchez was living a twisted double life
Caught by a glass of water
convicted Anthony Capozzi was released after serving 22 years for crimes he didn’t commit.
It seemed only his victims knew the real Altemio Sanchez, and for some women, his face was the last one they’d see.