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“Make me a very large drawer”: the story of the Olavarría priest who killed his wife and daughter

The San José de Olavarría church.

“Make me a very big drawer. It is for a very fat lady who is being sent to me from abroad,” Father Pedro Nolasco Castro Rodríguez, the first parish priest of the city of Olavarría, asked the carpenter. It was the month of June 1888. Castro Rodríguez was then 25 years old and in this way he pretended get away with femicides of his wife and daughter so as not to tarnish his image and maintain his position.

A strong poison and a hammer They were the weapons with which the priest, who was born in Spain, murdered his wife Rufina Padín and María Petrona, their 10-year-old daughter. For a whole month Castro Rodríguez managed to keep his secret safe, but the unexpected intervention of his sacristan, Ernesto Perín, knocked down his alibi and cost him a maximum sentence.

From Galicia to La Boca

Castro Rodríguez was born in Spain in 1844 and was ordained as a priest at a very young age. His congregation sent him to Uruguay a short time later and it was there, in Montevideo, that his life gave the first sharp turn of direction.

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On the other side of the pond, he met a pastor of the Anglican Church named Thompson and he embraced that religious doctrine. For this, Castro Rodríguez had to renounce the catholic faith in which he had trained and, a couple of years later, he was transferred to Buenos Aires.

The prodigal son

The former priest fell in love for the first time in the streets of Buenos Aires in the 19th century. The woman who stole his heart was called Rufina Padín and after two years of courtship the couple married in 1873 in a Methodist temple.

In the neighborhood of La Boca, the newly married couple tried their luck, first setting up a school, but it did not turn out as expected and they moved to Ranchos, where Castro Rodríguez dedicated himself fully to working the fields. But neither did his situation improve then economic.

Unable to raise his head, he appealed to a desperate resource: The return of the prodigal son. Castro Rodríguez requested an interview with the parish priest of Nuestra Señora de La Merced, Mariano Antonio Espinosa, and expressed his desire to return to Catholicism.

The San José de Olavarría church.

the loose end

That decision was the hinge from which everything seemed to improve for him: Espinosa said yes, rehabilitated him and later sent him as lieutenant priest to the city of Azul. Castro Rodríguez went there together with his wife and in that place, too, he became a dad. In July 1878, the couple’s first and only daughter was born. They called her Maria Petrona.

But when everything seemed that it couldn’t be better, the priest realized that there was a loose end that could make him lose the position that he had achieved with so much effort: his family. I needed them away so as not to arouse suspicion. And Castro Rodríguez convinced the two women to move to Buenos Aires under the promise of going to visit them whenever he could.

rise and fall

In 1880 the archbishopric promoted him to parish priest and transferred him to Olavarría to take charge of the church. He thus became the first priest of the first temple in the city, San José, which was located where the Municipal Theater is now.

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The insecurity that Castro Rodríguez felt regarding his personal situation completely exploded on June 5, 1888, when Rufina and Petrona took the train and they traveled to Olavarría to see it. Only it wasn’t a random visit.

The priest received his wife and daughter at the Olavarría station in June 1888. Hours later, he killed them.
The priest received his wife and daughter at the Olavarría station in June 1888. Hours later, he killed them.

For Rufina, her husband was cheating on her with other woman. She raised it that same day while they were having dinner in front of the sacristan Ernesto Perín and it was the cause of a strong argument: she wanted to stay and live in that house with him and her daughter, and Castro Rodríguez had no intention of allowing her to do so. .

A vial of poison and a hammer

When his wife and daughter went to bed, the man told Rufina that he would go buy her something so that it will calm your nerves and sure enough he went to a pharmacy, but came back with a powerful poison instead of a painkiller.

Castro Rodríguez spread the alkaloid derived from belladonna that he had bought on a slice of bread and forced Rufina to eat it. He believed that the woman would fall asleep and die without even realizing it, but the victim began to scream in the middle of a seizure and, faced with this unexpected scenario, he made sure to “finish” his plan as quickly as possible.

Rufina and Petrona, the victims of the priest of Olavarría.

That was how the priest took a hammer that he kept in the house and smashed his wife’s head, with two accurate and deadly blows. He then used what was left in the jar to poison his daughter. The girl died in less than three hours.

Two bodies and a coffin

The night of the crime the priest spent in the company of Rufina and Petrona for the last time. With the first lights of June 6, he set out to leave them behind definitively. He first processed a burial permit and then went to a nearby carpentry to ask for they will prepare a big coffin.

Returning home with the box, Castro Rodríguez first put his wife’s body inside it and then Petrona’s. The lid did not close, so sat on top of the coffin and pressed with all his might, until he succeeded.

The sacristan just arrived and found him finishing clean blood stains what was on the floor. Although there weren’t many left at that hour, they were enough to call Perin’s attention, who didn’t miss the women’s absence either.

After the horror, the lie

The chronicles of that time tell us that during the month it took the sacristan to decide to denounce the priest, he continued to give mass as if nothing had happened and there were many times when his faithful they found him crying in the church.

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Given the concern of the people, Castro Rodríguez lied again. He told everyone that his mother had recently died and that he was thinking of traveling to his native country to say goodbye to her.

The 28 of July the story that the priest had invented reached its final chapter. Perín had denounced him and the police took him in handcuffs from what had been his parish.

number 13

The priest broke down and not only confessed to the murders, but also the place where he had hidden the bottle with the leftover poison and the hammer.

The Justice sentenced him to life imprisonment and Castro Rodríguez served his sentence until he died, in 1896. He did so, locked up alone with his ghosts, in the cell number 13 from the Sierra Chica prison. The same number as the grave where he had had Rufina and Petrona buried.

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