TONY KING has been jailed for 36 years for the murder of Rocio Wanninkhof in 1999. The British criminal is already serving a prison sentence of the same length for the 2003 rape and murder of a 17-year-old Spanish girl. The two jail terms will run concurrently.
The nine members of the jury took 13 hours to find King guilty of the murder, but not the rape, of Rocio. Although he was the principal perpetrator of the killing, they cautioned they thought he did not act alone. The corpse had been thrown by more than one person and found in a place used by Rocio’s family- hence the jury considers someone well-known within the family circle was involved. Also the identity sticker used in the search for Rocio, in which family and friends were involved, was found together with her body- indicating that someone who took part in the hunt for her corpse also had a hand in disposing of it.
The case exposes flaws in the Spanish judicial system as well as defects in international policing. King had previously spent ten years in jail in the United Kingdom for sexual attacks against women in North London; he was then known as Tony Bromwich – the “Holloway Strangler.” Once released, he began a new life under a new name near the Costa del Sol. British police had warned the Spanish authorities he presented a danger to women but, nevertheless, he managed to commit two murders before being arrested.
Originally, the one-time lesbian partner of Rocio’s mother, Dolores Vazquez, was convicted of the killing. She was released after 17 months in jail when King was arrested for the murder of Sonia Caravantes in 2003. His DNA was found to match that on a cigarette end found near Rocio’s body. Concerns are raised that both Vazquez’s conviction and her rapid release amount to knee-jerk justice, as questions remain unanswered about the case. Wanninkhof’s family, convinced that Vazquez was involved in the murder and frustrated by the judicial system, have paid to have the case privately investigated. They uphold their belief that Vazquez was involved.
King maintains he was present but drugged at the murder, which he says was the work of Vazquez and his friend Robert Graham. Police have been searching for Graham in connection with the case, but the man, also British, has disappeared. Another young Spaniard, María Teresa Jiménez, disappeared from the coastal town of Motril and Graham is also wanted in connection with this unsolved crime.
Until Graham is found and questions about Vazquez remain unanswered, Rocio’s murder case is far from closed.