Felipe Espinosa is a well-known serial killer and a wanted man in the United States. Known as the Black Death Killer, he is believed to be one of the most prolific killers in American history. Known as a “professional assassin” and “hit man,” he is responsible for at least thirty-three murders committed during the Colorado Territory in 1863. Although the exact number has never been ascertained, it is estimated that Espinosa killed at least thirty-three individuals between the months of August and September, 1863. The most publicized case was his killing of the fourteen-year old daughter of a Colorado Territory owner.
Felipe Espinosa had been a lookout for a Mexican boat captain. The captain’s daughter, seeking to end a marriage with her husband, asked Espinosa for help. Instead of assisting the woman, he kidnapped her and took her to his cabin. From there, he subjected her to horrific tortures, such as being tied to a large cross and having the hands and feet beaten with hooks and stones. After repeatedly asking for water, she was finally killed.
As the Black Death approached, newspapers published lurid accounts of the gruesome manner in which the victims had been treated, and the terrible circumstances under which they died. Several men were arrested for these murders, including two minors who confessed to being involved in the death. One of the suspects, Jose Marzan, was released after a few weeks because of lack of evidence. The other suspect, Leonidas Becerra Jr., was hanged in 1875.
Felipe Espinosa lived in Colorado and worked as a tailor while living with his cousin, Brice Mares, in Durango, Mexico. Mares took care of the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Caren. Mares became suspicious of her cousin’s activities as a middleman in selling property and later discovered that Espinosa had been procuring arms and ammunition from the United States. He committed suicide by hanging himself in a cave on top of a mountain. Two years later, on March 8, witnesses saw him committing another murder, this time a woman in a Buenos Aires street.
On March 11, witnesses saw Espinosa shoot his cousin Francisco Aleman. Aleman’s body was found by a passerby on the road near the Esposito farm. Espinosa then escaped to Argentina, traveling by boat. His brother took him to Argentina where he lived with his cousin.
He returned to Louisiana and lived in New Orleans. There, he became an integral member of the La Generista Cartagena gang. In 1895, he married Anna Espinosa, the young cousin of the deceased Mano Juan. Anna was born in Cuba and had two children. In that time he also developed a love for guns.
He began working as a private detective in New Orleans. He soon distinguished himself by getting a job with the Orleans Police Department. The French were aware of his criminal past and he spent several months in jail for shooting at rival gangs. After his release, he formed a partnership with former enemies and the two formed the La Familia gang.
Folsom was released from prison in July of 1970. He immediately organized his first criminal enterprise, the La Familia Gang, which was run out of a house on Magazine Street in Garden City. Neighbors did not like the violence that was going on so they asked the police to come in and keep the place under control. During this time, many people were killed. Folsom was tried for murder and convicted, but he was allowed to live free while serving time in state prison.
Felipe Espinosa began to work with other criminals and he made many enemies. His criminal associates drove him to form the Criollo Gang, which was sometimes referred to as the Spanish Mafia. He also formed the Black Panther Party, which is still operating to this day. Felipe Espinosa’s life would take another turn when he was approached by the Argentinean Secret Army Group, known as the ARG. The group was training anti Castroist terrorists, and they offered to send him to Vietnam.
Castro refused the offer, but later the United States would fund his flight to Vietnam. As luck would have it, the United States did not oppose the war in Vietnam. Instead, they negotiated a deal with him to allow him to use a fishing vessel to cross the Pacific. The boat capsized off the coast of the Pacific and the US Coast Guard arrested Felipe Espinosa on suspicion of sabotage.
After his arrest, he was taken to San Antonio prison. There, he formed a five-man strike force, made up of all of his closest associates. He hoped to draw attention to the struggles of the poor and working class Americans. The group was called the Symbolic Front and he was tried alongside other alleged guerillas and political prisoners. Felipe Espinosa was ultimately convicted of conspiracy, racketeering, money laundering, assault, and burglary.