LA PAZ, Bolivia – A convicted hotel bomber from California who modeled himself on a fictional vampire has died after becoming ill in prison, officials said Tuesday.
Twenty-six-year-old Tristan Jay Amero was serving a 30-year sentence for bombing two low-rent hotels in the Bolivian capital of La Paz in 2006. Two Bolivians died in one of the attacks.
Juan Carlos Limpias, a senior official in the national prison service, said Amero complained of stomach pains Monday night in his cell and was taken to a hospital, where he died. An autopsy was being performed.
The native of Placerville, California, Amero adopted the name of Lestat Claudius de Orleans y Montevideo — a variation on a character in Anne Rice's vampire novels.
Also convicted in the bombings was Amero's Uruguayan girlfriend, Alda Ribeiro Costa, 47.
Amero's case briefly caused a bizarre kink in Bolivian-U.S. relations when President Evo Morales referred to him as a terrorist.
"The U.S. government fights terrorism, and they send us terrorists," Morales declared shortly after Amero's arrest. U.S. officials denied any ties to Amero, and said the comment hurt relations with Bolivia.
According to U.S. court documents, Amero received psychiatric treatment off and on since age 7, spent years at a juvenile detention center and often made threats of suicide and violence against authorities.
He was serving his sentence at the grim, maximum-security Chonchocoro prison on the wind-swept outskirts of La Paz.
"We could see he had psychological problems," said Ramiro Llanos, who served as national prison director until August. "He had poor relations with the rest of the prisoners, he shouted and threatened them."
Prison officials said Amero last year was caught hiding gasoline in his cell and admitted plotting to immolate prison officials, fellow inmates and even a U.S. diplomat sent to visit him.
In earlier travels through South America, Amero had described himself as a Saudi Arabian lawyer, a pagan high priest, a public notary and even a vampire. At one point, he was jailed for allegedly bombing an automatic cash machine in northern Argentina.
He moved to Bolivia in 2004 and settled in the mining town of Potosi, where dynamite is sold freely in the street. He obtained the simple license required to sell the explosives and opened a shop — even printing a promotional poster of Ribeiro posing nude with a box of dynamite.