‘Psychopath’ Arrested After Brutally Murdering Ex-Girlfriend on a Soccer Field

Authorities in Argentina have struggled to combat violence against women, known as femicides.
Gabriel Ernesto Aceval
Gabriel Ernesto Aceval in police custody in Chaco, Argentina. He was arrested for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death on a soccer pitch minutes before she was due to play a match. Photo: Screenshot from a video from Twitter @PoliciaChaco.

Police in Argentina just arrested a man Wednesday morning accused of murdering mother-of-two, Melina Romero, after a two-day-long manhunt.

Argentine authorities accused 45-year-old Gabriel Ernesto Aceval of murdering Romero on a soccer field just moments prior to her soccer match by stabbing her in the neck in front of onlookers on Sunday evening.

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The brutal femicide took place in public in the northeast Chaco province of Argentina and Aceval was quickly named as the prime suspect. He also reportedly admitted to the murder soon after in a Whatsapp status and claimed he had also planned to kill Romero’s two daughters but they weren't at the field at the time, according to local media.

Romero, 30, had reportedly not been romantically involved with her attacker for over a year. The two children are unrelated to the alleged killer and were fathered by another former partner.

Aceval reportedly approached Romero on the soccer field and quickly stabbed her in the neck. She died before paramedics could arrive at the scene.

After the attack, Aceval fled on a motorbike to a nearby mountainous area as police dispatched dozens of officers to search for him. They also released a wanted poster along with a Tweet that directly accused Aceval of the murder.

While the man was on the run, local news outlet Télam Digital, quoted an anonymous police investigator who alleged that Aceval had taunted authorities early on in the hunt by sending them “absurd messages.”

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“He's a psychopath, he wasn't regretful,” said the officer.

Authorities discovered Aceval hiding within a brush of shrubs on Wednesday morning. He allegedly tried to commit suicide with a knife before being captured, but failed.

Drone footage of his arrest shows dozens of police swarming a woody area in a field, before honing in on Aceval and pulling him out of the bushes. He’s quickly thrown into the back of a police truck and restrained. The police also tweeted a video of the man being brought into an ambulance with white bandages wrapped around his face and head. It's unclear whether this was to tend to his wounds after the suicide attempt, or to cover his face from the photographers.

Authorities have struggled to combat violence against women in Argentina. The country saw 250 femicides in 2020, or roughly one every 35 hours, according to the Washington Post.