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The 'Killer of the crossbow': life and psychological portrait of a parricide

The 'Killer of the crossbow': life and psychological portrait of a parricide

January 4, 2023

One of the best-known murders in Spanish criminal history shook a small population of the Maresme. It was on February 6, 1994 when Andrés Rabadán , a young local who was 21 years old, he killed his father by shooting him three arrows with a medieval crossbow that the young man had given himself for Christmas, after what seemed to be a family dispute.

The mystery of Andrés Rabadán is solved

The young Andrés Rabadán surprised everyone by also confessing the authorship of the sabotages that they had suffered certain train lines along various stretches of the Maresme district of Barcelona, ​​which caused several convoys to derail dangerously, fortunately without leaving victims.


For months, several neighboring towns were in suspense before the constant accidents that followed one another and that by all means seemed intentional . The police, alerted by the continuous damage to the train lines, received anonymous letters that threatened more attacks, reason why one got to speculate with the possibility that it was a network of saboteurs that operated in a coordinated way. But the solution to the case was much simpler.

The modus operandi in acts of railway sabotage

The modus operandi Andres was the following: the young man approached the chosen point of the tracks (a place normally located between two neighboring towns and away from the sight of curious who could scare him), gave two twists of thread to one of the screws and then I was going. The next day, he returned to the same place, continued unscrewing the same screw; and fled again. The reason he came in this way was because he knew that if he stayed for a long time removing the screws he would expose himself to someone discovering it . His twisted plan was also to saw the rails, then masked it together with a piece of electrical tape to make it look like they had not been damaged.


The researcher specialized in criminology Francisco Pérez Abellán he maintains that "Andrés Rabadán enjoyed making ostentation of his intelligence" and that derailments were his way of attracting attention. In statements to the judge, in March 1995, Rabadán said he did not know exactly why he did it, but that he had the idea that everyone was against him, and that he was fully convinced. that nothing would happen to the passengers of the trains, since he had everything under control. Once stopped, the sabotage stopped.

Months later, parricide occurs

The reason that caused the discussion that triggered the murder of Andrés Rabadán's father was a trifle: the glass of milk that Andres had asked for was too hot . This unleashed the uncontrolled fury of the boy, who went to his room for his crossbow and unleashed a shot in the temple. When he saw that he was still alive, he put an end to his suffering by shooting two more arrows on his forehead and neck.


After committing the crime, Andrés Rabadán left on his motorcycle and ran into a policeman who patrolled the area, to whom he confessed what had happened. The agent went to the address with the boy to check if the victim was unconscious or not. He found the body lying in the kitchen, with three arrows stuck in the neck, temple and forehead. Already deceased, Andres placed a cushion under his head.

The case immediately leapt to the media, due among other things to the nature and coldness with which the parricide was perpetrated, causing a stir at the national level . In his statements before the judge, in March 1995, he explained that he did not know the consequences of shooting his father with the crossbow. But when the magistrate asked him why he shot the last arrows, the young man's response was that his father would stop suffering, since he really loved him.

Family background

The mother of Andrés Rabadán committed suicide by hanging himself when he was 8 years old. It was a submissive woman and passive, leaving three children in charge of a father who always highlighted his bad temper. When the mother of Rabadán became pregnant for the first time, the father did not want to marry her and left her to later go to live in Barcelona. Her brothers had to appear at the new address of Matías Rabadán to demand that he face his imminent fatherhood and to ask him to marry her.

Andres's older sister remembers that her mother had told her on several occasions that she wanted to separate from her father, but that she did not have the money to do so. Shortly after her death, the sister left home, leaving her two younger brothers (Andrés and José) with the father, who had several sporadic couples over the years. It was then that they moved to an isolated urbanization and Andres lost all the friendships he had . Since then he dedicated himself to wandering alone in different places, he liked to sit on the rocks and look at the sea; he felt comforted while in solitude.

In the words of Andrés himself "(...) my mind was shattered, I did not think clearly nor did I know what I wanted".

Diagnosis (s) of Andrés Rabadán

The first diagnosis that was issued certified that Andrés Rabadán suffered from paranoid delusional schizophrenia, a mental pathology whose main characteristic is that the subject dissociates from reality and creates an unreal parallel world . It also establishes a new style of thinking in the form of delusions and a new form of perception that are hallucinations. As a result, he is sentenced to 20 years in a psychiatric penitentiary. In general, one third of schizophrenias usually show a favorable prognosis for improvement.

Later, one of the forensic experts who visited him suggested the hypothesis that Andrés had suffered a Psychotic attack . This type of crisis is recognized by its sudden appearance (although there are indications that can detect when it will occur) in situations of high stress prolonged over time. The most vulnerable people to suffer a psychotic outbreak are mentally and emotionally more fragile.

The appearance of suspicious or "strange" ideas and social isolation are two very remarkable features of the psychotic outbreak. The central nervous system of the subject collapses, causing a rupture with reality temporarily. In the face of a psychotic outbreak, the psychiatric regulations to follow require that the person must be medicated for at least two years. If in this period of time you stop showing delusions or hallucinations, you will withdraw this medication.

The symptomatology of the crossbow killer

As explained by the defendant, He said he heard noises that broke suddenly and at a very high volume in his head ; he also believed that he was being persecuted by a series of individuals who conspired against him. Precisely because of this, he revealed that he kept different weapons in his house, in order to defend himself if someone attacked him. When he decided to sabotage the train tracks was after an incident he had with his bicycle, when it was almost overwhelmed by a convoy that was passing at that time. As a result, he vowed revenge.

After the murder, he said that he felt as if he were awakening from a dream and coming to his senses, which explains why he carefully placed a pillow under the head of his father's body, proof of his remorse for what happened . When the police picked up the crossbow, they saw that an arrow remained intact that did not go off. It was for Andrés.

Various speculations about his clinical profile

To diagnose schizophrenia, the requirement is that the person suffer delusions and hallucinations for more than six months ; otherwise it will be considered that it is simply a psychotic outbreak. If ten years pass without suffering any relapse, it is estimated that the outbreak has subsided, and that the chances of recurrence are low. In spite of everything, several psychiatrists argued that Andrés Rabadán did not have any mental illness.

There was also speculation that it was a case of psychopathy, given that the forensic reports were very contradictory in this regard. Psychopaths are people who know very well what one wants to hear and improvise a message that really seems spontaneous with the ultimate goal of satisfying their own interests.

According to his psychiatrist, Andrés did not point in this direction, because he often showed empathy and remorse; besides having a great circle of friends, although he would have moved away from them when moving. According to Francisco Pérez Abellán, the case of the crossbow killer would be a clear example of psychopathy, since - he argued - Rabadán managed to convince everyone that he was crazy . The difference between a psychotic and a psychopath is that the latter distinguishes without problems what he is prepared to do and, nevertheless, carries out his purpose.

Final comments

When an event has been so mediated and has caused so much social alarm for its monstrous character, both the media and society itself hurriedly try to attribute mental illness to the person who perpetrated the crime. This occurs because it is not conceived that a mentally healthy person can do something like this, with which it tends to look for a psychopathological reason that explains the reason for such a despicable fact .

In fact, people with serious psychiatric disorders commit very few murders, it is the supposedly healthy people who, under certain pressures or circumstances, can reach those extremes. What happens is that we have little capacity to recognize that, under certain conditions, we could all get to perform unimaginable acts .

Andres once said that, had he not killed his father, he would have carried out any other atrocity; showing himself equally hesitant about his recovery, even though that was what the mental health professionals who treated him during his years behind bars certified.

He was released from the Men's Penitentiary Center of Barcelona ('La Modelo') in March 2015, after serving a sentence for threats to one of the nurses of the Barcelona prison of Quatre Camins.

Bibliographic references:

  • Canal + Spain / Nanouk Films / Televisión Española (TVE). The forgiveness. History of the crossbow killer [Documentary]. Catalunya, Spain. Cameo
  • Nanouk Films / Briznormally / Televisió de Catalunya (TV3). The two lives of Andrés Rabadán (Film). Catalunya, Spain. Cameo

Álvaro Enrigue: 2016 National Book Festival (January 2023).


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