Spain reels as police search for toddler feared killed by dad

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO)'s vessel Angeles Alvarino leaves the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO)'s vessel Angeles Alvarino leaves the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Desiree Martin, AFP
  • Rescue teams in Spain are searching for the body of a toddler.
  • There are fears that her father killed her.
  • Search teams found the body of her sister off Tenerife.

Spanish search teams were trawling the seabed for the body of a toddler off Tenerife Monday after investigators said they believed she - like her sister - had been killed by their father.

The case has shocked Spain, and on Monday crowds demonstrated at town halls across the country to protest domestic violence, following similar gatherings over the weekend.

READ | Father finds body of his missing infant son in a canal in Cape Town

The girls - Anna, aged 1, and 6-year-old Olivia - were reported missing on 27 April after being taken by their father, Tomas Gimeno.

On Thursday, the body of Olivia was found at the bottom of the sea off Tenerife wrapped in a bag weighted down with an anchor.

An autopsy carried out on Friday morning found Olivia had died a "violent death", the court said, after a gag order was lifted over the weekend.

'Inhuman pain'

The investigating magistrate in the case said it was "most likely" Gimeno had killed them both at home then dumped their bodies at a depth where they were unlikely to ever be found.

In a nine-page statement, the magistrate said that when Gimeno had taken the girls, he wanted "to kill them in a planned and premeditated manner".

"He aimed to inflict on his ex-partner the greatest pain that he could imagine, an inhuman pain," she said.

Witnesses have told investigators that on the day the girls went missing, Gimeno loaded several bags onto his boat.

Gimeno himself is missing and presumed to have died by suicide.

The case has gripped Spain, where 39 minors have been killed since 2013 by their fathers or by a partner or former partner of their mothers.

And so far this year alone, 18 women have been killed by their partner or ex-partner. Since officials began keeping records on 1 January 2003, the number of victims is now 1 096.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday "the whole of Spain is in shock" over the case.

A Tenerife court specialising in gender violence is now handling the case.


"Although only Olivia's body has been located so far the most probable hypothesis regarding Anna is, unfortunately, the same," the magistrate there said.

The suspected abduction and murder of the two girls came a year after the girls' mother, Beatriz Zimmermann, broke up with Gimeno.

He sent her "offensive and insulting" messages following the break-up, especially after she found a new partner, the magistrate said.

"The defendant's desire was to leave his ex-partner in the dark as to the fate of Olivia and Anna," she wrote.

In an open letter published on Sunday, the girls' mother wrote that it was "the most monstrous act a person can commit: killing their own innocent children."

"When they told me the news, the world came crashing down on me, and as hard as it is, at least now I can mourn their loss," she wrote.

"I wish I had been there at that moment holding their hands so we could die together... But that couldn't be, because Tomas wanted me to suffer searching endlessly for them all my life."

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
The 2021 Matric exams have been brought forward to avoid clashing with elections. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
A disaster - kids are stressed enough
44% - 756 votes
Not the best idea, but necessary
16% - 266 votes
No big deal, it's just a few days
40% - 691 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.