His name was Diogo Alves, known now as the first legitimate serial killer of Portugal. Now, nearly 177 years after his execution, he still evokes fear and terror with his unwavering stare. Find out more about this stone-cold killer’s life and death, and how on earth his head wound up forever preserved in a glass jar at the University of Lisbon.

A rough start

Born over 200 years ago in 1810, Alves was predestined for an impoverished lifestyle. Perhaps these humble beginnings are what made him so bitter toward society.


Coming from very little means, he first worked as a servant when he was still very young. By the time he reached 26, he was performing manual labor in homes bordering the Aqueduct of Free Waters. It was along this very walkway that he claimed his first victim.

Horrific hobbies

Many farmers and merchants traveled the aqueduct, providing plenty of unsuspecting targets for Diogo Alves. He first began by lurking on the bridge, stalking his potential prey. He paid attention to people coming back from their trade, mugging them and then shoving them off of the 213-foot tall walkway.


Alves sealed the fate of 70 victims over the next three years of his serial killer career. He had great success working alone, but eventually formed a murderous gang to assist him in his life’s work. Little did he know this would be his downfall.

Down with Diogo

After adding more people to his morbid mob, he was caught by authorities and sentenced for his crimes. He was promptly hanged, but he wasn’t laid to rest. Science was evolving, and people couldn’t resist the idea of dissecting this specimen of pure evil.

Ed Mooney Photo

Doctors preserved his head, hoping to unlock the mysteries of the mind. While nothing was ever determined, you can still see the face of a madman at the University of Lisbon, forever preserved in glass as cold as the icy waters of the fateful Free Waters Aqueduct.