MEXICO CITY – A murder suspect dubbed "the cannibal" was found dead in his prison cell of an apparent suicide Tuesday, two months after police found cooked and seasoned bits of his girlfriend's corpse on a fork and plate in his apartment.
Jose Luis Calva, a self-proclaimed poet and dramatist suspected in at least three murders, was found hanging from his belt in his Mexico City jail cell Tuesday morning, the city department of corrections said in a statement.
The man routinely referred to as "the cannibal" by Mexican news media had been working on a book about himself at the time of his death.
Mexico City officials said they were investigating how he got the belt and apparently was able to commit suicide when he was supposed to be under round-the-clock observation.
"Everything indicates it was suicide, but it is better to conduct a good investigation," Juan Garcia Ochoa, the city's assistant interior secretary whose agency oversees prisons, told local radio station Formato 21.
Calva told prosecutors after his arrest on Oct. 8 that he was practically abandoned by his mother, his father died when he was 2 and that at about age 7 he was raped by a male friend of his brother.
In interviews before his death, Calva had expressed remorse for the death of girlfriend Alejandra Galeana, 32.
He acknowledged killing her and cutting up her body after a violent drug-and-alcohol-fueled argument, but denied he ate her flesh. He claimed he carefully cleaned, cooked and seasoned the flesh to feed it to dogs he found on the street as a way of getting rid of the body. He titled his book "The Cannibal Poet."
Soledad Garavito, the mother of Galeana, described his death as divine retribution.
"I don't wish death on anybody, but I feel this was divine justice," Garavito told The Associated Press. "I do not take pleasure in this man's death, but I have seen there is a God and that He is with me."
Calva was charged with Galeana's murder and abusing a corpse. Prosecutors said they also had evidence linking him to the death of another girlfriend whose dismembered body was found in cardboard boxes in 2004, as well as a female acquaintance whose chopped-up remains were found in a suitcase earlier this year. All the victims had been strangled.
Moises Humberto Calderon, a lawyer with the legal firm defending Calva, said Calva "was repentant" but did not seem suicidal in prison.
"He didn't seem to have suicidal tendencies," Calderon said. "He was very enthused about (the book) idea. That was sort of what gave him a reason to live."
Acquaintances, prosecutors and psychologists described Calva as a charismatic, habitual liar who liked to dominate women, whom he sometimes convinced to sell his poems on the street. He also passed himself off as a playwright, television personality, reporter, novelist and actor.