|Name: James P. Riva
Born – 1957 / Died – ****
Number of victims: 1
The story of the murder that took place on April 10th 1980 is straight out of a tragedy for a number of reasons, one sadder than the other.
– we are talking about a murder in the family; then 23year-old James Riva killed his 74year-old grandmother – Carmen Lopez
– both the murderer and the victim had serious health issues; James had been diagnosed a schizophrenic and Carmen was disabled.
It all began when firefighters were called at the residence of elderly Carmen Lopez. Once the flames were put out they found her body in the bedroom, however what might have seamed to be an open and shut case of death by fire soon turned out to hide a much more gruesome truth.
During the investigation it was revealed that the fire was intentionally started and that accelerant was used in order to hide the fact that the body of the 74year-old was shot with gold-painted bullets and stabbed multiple times.
As her 23year-old grandson James was reported to be seen on the property earlier that day, he was asked to come in and give a statement.
It was during that interview that it came to light that he was actually the one that killed Carmen. In hindsight we can see that James presented conflicting versions:
1. The story he told his mother
He claimed that he had been turned into a vampire some years back and that the other vampires he was in contact with telepathically had told him that he needs to drink his grandmother`s blood in order to become stronger because that`s what vampires do.
He claimed to her that he did not stab her and did not hit her over the head, he killed her by shooting her. The bullets had to be golden or else they would not find their mark.
He said he was a 700-year-old vampire who needed to drink her blood, but that she was too old and dried up so he couldn`t when he tried.
2. The story he told police when he was questioned
In this alternative version, James claimed that he was a vampire hunter. He had become convinced that his grandmother was a vampire who was attacking him at night – the only way to save himself was apparently to kill Carmen.
James Riva had been struggling with mental health since 16 and had even been institutionalized for a brief period of time, however it only got worse when he started having auditory and visual hallucinations. Because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia he was dubbed by media at the time as “The Schizophrenic Vampire”
Nevertheless he was found to be fit to stand trial and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. All his subsequent requests for parole [4 up until now] have been declined.
Kindly note that this article was not written with an intent to dive into extreme details as I believe that maintaining a respectful attitude towards the victims is more important than anything in this series of articles. Rest in peace, Carmen!
† Vampiric Murderers