Dolores Vázquez, in an image from the documentary series Dolores. The truth about the Wanninkhof case. / SUR

Dolores Vázquez: 'Rocío would never forgive her mother for what she said about me at the trial'

Twenty years after being declared innocent, Vázquez finally speaks out in a docuseries on HBO which looks into the Wanninkhof-Carabantes cases

Ivan Gelibter
IVAN GELIBTER

"Twenty years ago I lost everything. My freedom, my life, my voice; even my name. I have never been the same since, and I never will be, but the time has come for me to face up to the shadows and tell my story for the first time".

With these words Dolores Vázquez, who was sent to jail and later declared innocent of the murder of Rocío Wanninkhof, broke her silence after two decades keeping out of public life. People have been waiting for this for many years, and she was speaking as a prologue to a Spanish documentary series on HBO Max. The first three episodes were shown on Tuesday, at a time when true crime programmes always generate a huge amount of interest.

For Dolorez Vázquez the years have passed but her scars have still not healed after life as she knew it was destroyed on 8 September 2000, when the Guardia Civil entered her house in La Cala de Mijas to arrest her on suspicion of murdering Rocío.

Until now, what happened then has only been told from the point of view of Rocío's mother, Alicia Hornos, and from the investigation itself. Now, the documentary series gives the first-person account of a woman who didn't understand what was happening to her.

"I recall that day as a nightmare. Even though it was 20 years ago, it's in my mind all the time," says Vázquez, who says all she could think of was that it wasn't really happening.

"They didn't say anything to me, they just took it for granted that I was the murderer. I had no voice, no word, nothing. I used to believe in justice, but on that day I stopped believing in it forever," she says.

Despite the total lack of evidence, a jury found Dolores guilty in 2001. After the verdict was read out people present in court burst into applause, including some of the journalists. That was the end of an act in which her sexual orientation and supposed vengeful character were the only (but effective) tool used to find her guilty.

Precisely because of this, a good part of the first three episodes focuses on the relationship between Hornos and Vázquez; and it does so with a striking narrative based on an indirect dialogue between the two. As is clear from the footage, the producer interviewed Rocío's mother first. Dolores then answers, giving the impression of a conversation.

During this the versions are still very different, although it appears to the viewer that Vázquez has a better grasp of the subject than Hornos. One of the most striking moments is when each woman gives her version of the break-up of their relationship. Here, Alicia seems to contradict herself, because she blames Dolores' mother for coming to live with them and breaking them up, but at the same time she tells of a time when - allegedly - Vázquez knocks her mother off her chair and drags her across the floor because of something she had said to Alicia.

"If Alicia says I hit my mother"- Dolores then answers - "God will never forgive her. I would have hit Alicia if I ever saw her touch my mother. My mother is sacred to me. She never once complained to me about Alicia or the children. Alicia did, though, about my mother. She was jealous of her. If anyone hit her, it would have been Alicia," she says, emphatically.

Her relationship with Rocío

One of the subjects that was widely debated 20 years ago was the real relationship that Dolores had with Rocío. At the time - and again in the documentary - Alicia said it was very bad, something that Vázquez strongly denies.

"Rocío would never forgive her mother if she knew the things she said about me at the trial. Alicia knows very well that Rocío and I were very close. She was more like my daughter than hers. Alicia has always lied about that," Dolores insists in one of the most striking parts of the first episodes.

We don't yet know how the documentary ends, but it is clear that Dolores is keen to refute the few clues which were used against her; a combination of circumstances with no actual evidence which led her to be found guilty of a crime she did not commit, leading to a story in which errors were made by the judiciary and the media and even the general public. And the echo of that is very loud when Dolores speaks out for the first time about how they destroyed her life.

Alicia Hornos still says Vázquez killed Rocío despite being cleared and Tony King convicted of the crime

One of the biggest questions about the Wanninkhof case is answered at the end of the third episode. Rocío's mother, Alicia Hornos, still maintains that Dolores Vázquez killed her daughter, even though there is no evidence to support it, Vázquez was subsequently declared innocent and Tony King was convicted for carrying out that murder and that of Sonia Carabantes a few years later. That second case provided evidence which solved both killings.

"I hated her so much when they found her guilty," says Hornos about Vázquez. "I hated her till death then and I still hate her till death now. Someone who kills once, kills twice," she says.

Nevertheless, even though a good part of the story relating to their relationship is diametrically opposed depending on which of them is telling it, Alicia does acknowledge that for her Dolores is "the love of my life".

"I feel powerless and full of anger because I love her, but I want her to rot in hell," she says.

When talking about what happened then during the investigation, Hornos admits that everyone was treated as a possible suspect, but that Dolores was the main one.

"The Guardia Civil told me she had done it, and I said to them "of course she did". By then she had no love at all for Rocío, nor Rocío for her," she says.