Key evidence in missing 'painter boy' inquiry turns up in owner's mailbox

David's brother, Jorge, with Gema and the line drawing.
David's brother, Jorge, with Gema and the line drawing. / M. F.
  • Just before talented 13-year-old David Guerrero disappeared in 1987 he gave a caricature of an old man to a friend as a gift

One of the Costa del Sol's longest-running missing person's cases took an unexpected twist this week.

David Guerrero, from the Huelin area of Malaga city, was thirteen when he disappeared on 6 April 1987.

David was a gifted young painter and the inquiry quickly became known as the case of the missing "painter boy", drawing wide public interest to this day.

During the earliest part of the investigation, police asked friends and fellow pupils at David's after-school art class for clues as to where he might be and for them to show any artwork they had of his. A good friend, Gema handed over a caricature of an old man that the "painter boy" had given her a few days before his disappearance 33 years ago.

Gema and the missing boy's family still believed the sketch was held securely by investigators. But recently the painting was found by a shocked Gema herself in the junkmail tray at the entrance to the block of flats where she has a home but does not live regularly. Police are now investigating how it got there.

The caricature became the key piece of evidence three years after David's disappearance when a cleaner at a hotel recalled seeing a napkin in a room with the words "David Guerrero, Huelin" on it. The occupant of the room at that time in 1987 was identified as a Swiss man, who by then died. However a photo of the man bore striking similarities to the person in the line drawing given to Gema.

The Swiss man's widow allowed police to search her late husband's photo laboratory. Images of Malaga were found but no evidence he ever knew or met the "painter boy".

David's family have said they don't think the Swiss man is the same as the caricature, which could be a random person, and they continue to search for clues as to their brother whereabouts.