The big Netflix release of June 2023 in the world of true crime is The Playing Card Killer, an original miniseries about Alfredo Galán, the Spanish serial killer who terrorized Madrid in the first half of 2003. It’s a true story widely covered by newspapers in those days, even though it wasn’t particularly famous out of Spain. The events are particularly fascinating, though: let’s discover them.
You can watch the official trailer for Netflix’s The Playing Card Killer here on Youtube.
The Playing Card Killer on Netflix: the true story of Alfredo Galán
The Netflix series The Playing Card Killer is based on the true story of the Spanish serial killer Alfredo Galán. Galán killed six people in the first half of 2003 in Madrid and became famous as “el asesino de la baraja,” “the deck card killer,” because he used to leave a playing card next to his victims’ bodies.
Alfredo Galán was born in 1978 in a little town in the South of Spain. He entered the army in 1998 and participated in two humanitarian missions in Bosnia. During his military years, he started to have problems with justice: in 2003, he stole a car. During the medical examinations, he was diagnosed with neurosis and anxiety. The doctors prescribed some medicaments: he kept drinking alcohol during the therapy, although it was not recommended, and in March 2003, he was expelled from the army.
The murders began already in January 2003. His first victim was a doorman working in a building in Madrid; he was shot while feeding his son. On February 5, he killed three people on the same day: first, he shot a man at a bus stop, then on the afternoon, he entered a bar and started shooting at several people, killing two of them. The murder at the bus stop was the first case where a playing card was discovered beside the body. It was an ace of cups; apparently, it wasn’t intentional initially. But after the media started calling Alfredo Galán the card deck killer, he adopted it as a murder signature. From that moment, he left more cards on his following victims.
On March 7, 2003, Alfredo Galan attacked a man and a woman. The man survived his shot, and the woman was lucky because the gun jammed when the killer was about to kill her. On March 18, he killed another 40-year-old couple in Arganda del Rey, a municipality out of Madrid. Those were his last victims: on July 3, 2003, Alfredo Galán turned himself in, confessing to being the Playing Card Killer, ending the true story of his crimes.
His trial wasn’t easy, even because he changed his statements many times in those months. At some point, Alfredo Galán said that he faked his confession because he was blackmailed by the real serial killer. He also said he sold the gun used in his murders, but the police found it in his parents’ house. He was also successfully identified by those who survived his attacks. The murders stopped after his arrest, and the gun was bought in Bosnia, where he served in the army. All those elements became evidence that supported her sentence: he was sentenced to 142 years in prison and more than €600.000 compensation for the victims’ damage. However, Spanish law states that the maximum prison time is 25 years, so Galán will be released in 2028.
In the trial, Alfredo Galán was described by the psychiatric analysis as “a human predatory that goes out hunting man to humiliate and kill them.” According to the investigation, he always shot at a close distance, sometimes asking the victims to kneel before killing them.
The Playing Card Killer is the true story of the investigations and the arrest of Alfredo Galán, as happened in Spain in 2003. You can find here an old article from El Mundo explaining his sentence (in Spanish).