Tony King. :: SUR
It is possible that our readers will not remember Anthony Bromwich, but most of them will certainly never forget Tony Alexander King. Ten years after the death of Sonia Carabantes and the police investigation which linked that crime with the death of Rocío Wanninkhof, the name of this British man still remains in the memory of people in Malaga province. King is serving a prison sentence for the murders of the two girls and for attempting to rape a woman.
The news of his arrest and the later trials caused an unprecedented media frenzy, filling the front pages of the Spanish and British press. The DNA evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime marked a turning point in the Rocío Wanninkof case and also helped to clear Dolores Vázquez, the woman who until then had been the principle suspect in that case and who had already been found guilty by a jury. However, this was no compensation for the public vilification to which she had been subjected and the ordeal of the court hearings that led her to spend 17 months in jail. And it was all thanks to a series of coincidences.
Sonia Carabantes (aged 17) disappeared in the early hours of the morning of 14th August after going to the fair in Coín. That was 10 years ago, now. Her parents saw her for the last time at 10 o’clock the previous evening, when she was getting ready to go out. She never returned home. The following day, her parents raised the alarm and feared the worst when a pool of blood was discovered a few metres from their house, together with a bag, one shoe and Sonia’s mobile phone.
After six days of searching, the teenager’s naked body was found semi-buried under large rocks in a gully between Coín and Monda. Traces of skin found under Sonia’s nails provided some genetic information about her killer.
The cigarette end
When the investigators checked the DNA of those traces of skin with the police database they received a most unexpected surprise: it matched that found on a Royal Crown cigarette end which had been found beside Rocío Wanninkhof’s body four years earlier. But they still had no name to link with these clues. However, the news of the findings in Sonia’s case helped to confirm the suspicions of Tony King’s ex-wife. She went to the police to tell them that on the night that Rocío Wanninkhof died, he had returned home with blood stains on his clothing and she believed that he could be linked to the death of the girl from Coín. At that time, King was livingwith a new girlfriend in Alhaurín el Grande, where he worked as a waiter, but she had no suspicions about him. During the past six years in Spain, he had been living a double life.
The police arrested Tony King on 18th September and he admitted to the crime of Sonia. Days later, while being questioned by the Guardia Civil, he also confessed to killing Rocío Wanninkhof and insisted that he had acted alone. In both cases, everything pointed to there being a sexual motive, although neither of the girls had been raped. Details then began to emerge of a psychopathic personality and a violent past in which he had spent time in prison in the U.K. for killing a man who raped his sister.
During the subsequent trials - that of the Sonia case in October 2005 and the Rocío case in November 2006 - King retracted his confessions and changed his story about his involvement on several occasions. He also tried to implicate his friend, Robert Graham, who had been told by King that he had killed Rocío Wanninkhof, and to link Dolores Vázquez to the two crimes again. However, the Guardia Civil discovered more of King’s DNA on some plastic bags near the body of the girl from Mijas.
55 years for murder
King was sentenced to a total of 62 years in prison, 36 for the murder of Sonia Carabantes, 19 for killing Rocío Wanninkhof (55 in total) –although the sentence indicated that he had not done so alone - and seven more for the attempted rape of another young woman in Benalmádena. Even though Dolores Vázquez was cleared by the court, Rocío’s mother, Alicia Hornos, who had been her former lover, insisted that she had been involved. The letters that King has sent to Alicia Hornos from his prison cell keep her theory alive.
King has been behind bars since his arrest in September 2003. After spending a few months in the isolation module of the prison at Alhaurín to prevent possible attacks on him after he received threats, he was transferred to the jail at Albolote (Granada) in July 2004. There he suffered the greatest personal blow in all those years when he learned that his 10 year old daughter from his first marriage had drowned in a swimming pool in September 2007. That was the only occasion on which he has been permitted to leave the jail, to attend her funeral at Parcemasa in Malaga.
In July 2008, he was transferred to the Herrera de la Mancha maximum security jail in Ciudad Real. His lawyer, Javier Saavedra, says he lives a normal life in prison and that he maintains that he is innocent. “He thinks he is there for something he has not done”, he explains. In the case of Rocío he doesn’t understand why, if the sentence said that he had not acted alone, he is the only person to have been sentenced; while in the case of Sonia, he insists that he can’t remember anything but he doesn’t think he did it. What is certain is that many more years behind bars still lie before him.