Ted Bundy, Charles Sobhraj, Jeffrey Dahmer… They are more popular than ever. In recent years, we have observed, on streaming platforms and elsewhere, a strange fascination among viewers for serial killer stories. But if this phenomenon is particularly intriguing today, it does not actually date from yesterday. In 2004, a little boy fascinated by serial killer films had already plunged an entire country into horror…
Palmetto Bay, February 3, 2004. In the small college of Southwood, a young teenager is found dead on the floor of the toilets. Jaime Rodrigo Gough, 14, was stabbed and stabbed more than 40 times. In shock, the teaching staff confines the students to the establishment. A teacher then makes a sinister observation: Michael Hernandez, the best friend of Jaime Rodrigo Gough, has blood on his jacket.
Dispatched to the scene, the police are informed of the suspicions of the teacher. She discovers, in the backpack of young Michael Hernandez, a knife drowned in blood and latex gloves. The 14-year-old boy is arrested and confesses. In a detached tone, almost eager to tell his story, Hernandez confesses to having lured his friend Jaime into the bathroom before the start of class, claiming to have something to show him. After asking the teenager to turn around, he put on gloves and slit his throat. He then completed it with dozens of stab wounds, proud to have finally carried out the plan he had been planning for long weeks. His only regret? Failing to kill his second friend, Andre Martin, who was not present.
In the footsteps of Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman…
Even more disturbing, the young murderer explains that he took action to look like his idols: Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman. A big fan of serial killer films, he says he has seen The Silence of the Lambs and American Psycho many times. And the investigation confirms the revelations of the young man. In his diary, the police discover that Michael Hernandez had planned step by step the murder of Jaime Rodrigo Gough, that of Andre Martin and that of his sister. The teenager had also written in black on white the words “I will become a serial killer” (“I will become a serial killer”).
“In the same way that some children say they want to become an actor, rock star or rapper, he wanted to become a serial killer and live in dishonor, will explain, years later, his friend Andre Martin in the series Copycat Killers. He said it would be cool…. He took personality traits from both real and fictional serial killers, like Ted Bundy and Hannibal Lecter, and incorporated them into his own personality.” Martin will also reveal that the day before Jaime’s murder, Hernandez had already tried to lure his friends into the bathroom, but his plan had been interrupted by the college bell.
Judged in 2008, Michael Hernandez was sentenced to incompressible life imprisonment. He asked for a review in 2016, after the ban on the life sentence for minors, but did not get it and never will get it. He died in April 2021 in his cell at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Jacksonville. The autopsy report concluded that he died of “morbid obesity-related cardiac arrest”.
In Florida, the announcement of the young criminal’s death sparked many reactions. Very discreet since the beginning of the case, the parents of young Jaime, Jorge and Maria Gough, notably declared with dignity: “Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez, we are not happy to learn of the death of your son. Despite what we’ve been through, as parents we know how you feel.” Maria Gough added that she forgave the gesture of Michael Hernandez “many years ago, before the trial”. “And I have hope, deep down, in my heart, that I will see him again someday,” she continued of her son. “It’s my strength.”
Michael Hernandez © Miami-Dade Police Department