The terrible death of the best spoken portrait cartoonist that the Prosecutor had

The almost perfect stroke with which he reconstructed the faces of the children murdered by Garavito, allowed the monster to be identified. He was found dead in his home.

In June 2003, Luis Alfredo Garavito, a tall man with the face of an average Colombian, admitted, with absolute calm, that he had raped 178 children. Disguised as a monk, paletero or doctor, he toured the country taking with him the minors he found. The country was terrified and needed to know more details about the events to assess the atrocity. At that time, twenty years ago, Legal Medicine and the prosecution did not have the technological resources to identify, from a hair, what one of the victims looked like. That’s why they needed morphologists, civil servants almost turned into artists to help draw a spoken portrait. One of them was Mario León Artunduaga. It had never been so painful for him to make a portrait like the one he felt when he brought back to life, through his pencil, one of the tortured, raped and murdered children at home.

A year after cameling him in the sun and shadow in the Garavito case, this Ibaguereño born in 1961 settled in Medellín, a city in which there was plenty of work for a forensic doctor. He passionately dedicated himself to his job, ate when he could and there were many early mornings in which he was caught nodding off his office desk at the Prosecutor’s Office. The dedication was so great that he would end up getting sick and, before his 50th birthday, they had already given him sick leave. A hernia that tormented him and that was always treated.

The Garavito monster at the time of its capture

He was so meticulous that he wanted to have absolute control even of the colors, the pencils with which he drew. Although he was already retired, he also helped as a morphologist, in the case of Luis Andrés Colmenares and later that of Jesús Maria Valle, the human rights defender who warned then-governor Álvaro Uribe that a massacre was going to take place in El Aro. A member of the LGTBI community, he had absolute empathy with people, which led him to teach classes on his art. Students talk about how he taught to understand the environment before drawing any conclusion about any crime. But morphology was for Mario León just a fragment of his life, one more passion.

Because he loved the movies. He would have been more of an art designer, a man steeped in sci-fi movies, demonic possession than forensics. Although he was able to find poetry in something as macabre as a corpse, the movies brought it to life. He worked with various filmmakers in the region, including Oscar Mario Estrada. That’s what he lived on, teaching makeup.

On the morning of January 23 when he was found dead, his students were waiting for him at the makeup school where he worked in La Mariela. He wasn’t answering his cell phone. Strange for a man so punctual, so picky. Two of his students went to his house, located, according to El Colombiano, at Carrera 39 with Calle 66C. They played over and over again. Nobody opened. They forced the door and found Mario with his head open, blood pooling. In the Villahermosa neighborhood, the neighborhood where the artist lived, they simply did not come out of his stupor.

Apparently it was a robbery. In Medellín his colleagues, those who have known him since 1996, mourned him at the funeral on January 25. They remember him not only as a talented artist but also as one of the most committed men in a job as difficult as facing death.

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