The Portuguese Serial Killer Whose Head Gets Kept in a Jar

Portugals first real serial killer, something to be proud of? I don’t know. This guy definitely made some history.

Diogo Alves was a serial killer and robber who was born in Spain and raised in Portugal. Between 1836 and 1840, he was responsible for the deaths of seventy persons.

He lived and committed those crimes in the Águas Livres Aqueduct area. Therefore he received the nickname: The Aqueduct Murderer.

In 1841, he was sentenced to death and went to be hung on February 19th.

When he was killed, his head got separated from his body and preserved in a jar and is currently put on as a tourist attraction in Lisbon at their university of Medicine.

What Did He Do?

You might be wondering what he exactly did to receive the death sentence? Well, it wasn’t pretty: as a kid, he moved to Lisbon to work as a servant in the aristocratic mansions of the Portuguese capital.

Not long after, young Alves understood that a life of crime was more lucrative in terms of making money.

In 1836, he arranged for himself to be transported to a residence on the ‘Aqueduto das guas Livres’, where he would labor.

Although many of the workers who traveled long and far to reach the city were no more than humble farmers who had come to Lisbon to sell their harvests, Alves singled them out for attack.

Awaiting their return home, he tracked them down along the Aqueduct after dusk and forced them to hand over their hard-earned money to him.

Afterward, Alves would hurl them over the side of the 213-foot-tall tower, sending them plummeting to their deaths below ground level. He did this around 70 times in that period.

To avoid capture, Alves assembled a gang of bandits who murdered four people inside the house of a local doctor before being apprehended.

Why Would You Keep A Serial Killer’s Head?

It was widely held at the time of Alves’ execution that the form of one’s head was responsible for certain mental or behavioral qualities.

He was so dismembered from his already deceased corpse and placed in a glass jar, where it has remained ever since, properly preserved for everyone to behold.

Because of so little written evidence, if any, of the research on Alves has survived, little is known about the outcome of the investigation.

And now it’s a tourist attraction, so if you’re interested — check it out.

More Famous Heads

When you think Alves was the only head they ever kept you’re wrong: a second skull, that of Francisco Mattos Lobo, who killed a family of four before tossing their dog out of a window, was inspected barely one year after Alves’ death.

That one is kept in a jar, very close to Alves’ head.


There’s more. Einstein’s brain is kept. In 1955, after his death, his brain was taken out of his skull (without the family’s permission) by a Princeton Hospital doctor.

They wanted to examine his brain to find out why he was so intelligent. But until today, there hasn’t been any conclusion about that.

Would you want to keep a head of loved ones in a jar?

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