In 1844, things turn a very bad turn for Manuel. He was charged with the murder of Vicente Fernández who was the constable of León. The good constable was just trying to collect a debt of 600 reales from Manuel before he was found dead. Manuel was never arrested because he fled using a fake passport with the name of Antonio Gómez. Even though Manuel was not arrested, the trial was still held and he was found guilty. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Manuel lived for years on the run knowing that a decade in prison awaited him if he was ever captured. He traveled around and even spent some time near his hometown. He made a living by befriending the local women and taking jobs that were not common for men. He made yarn, cleaned, did women’s crafts and cooked, which gave him a reputation with the local men as being very effeminate. He was said to be “too gentle” and was called “Belorukov.” This may have been the reason why he returned to his work at a guide and was hired mainly by women and children.
It was while working as a guide that things once again took a bad turn for Manuel. Those in his charge started dying. There were numerous disappearances of people who lived in the town of Rebordekao, where Manuel had settled and in neighboring villages. For a while, no one noticed because Manuel would write letters home from those he was leading so that their family and friends would not suspect anything. It might have worked for a very long time if Manuel had not been so foolish. He was first linked to the disappearances when he was caught trying to sell the belonging of those who had paid him to be their guide.
The disappearances were realized but there was nothing that definitively linked Manuel to the disappearances. Some bodies were found but they were so mutilated that even close family members failed to be able to identify the bodies. It was over the course of years that people were disappearing and not all of them were immediately tied to Manuel. Suspicions continued to grow and build until one day someone finally stepped forward with an accusation about what Manuel was really doing.
It started as just a rumor that Manuel was killing those he was supposed to be guiding and then selling off their possessions. Then in 1852, a formal accusation came out against Manuel. A complaint in the city of Escalona accused Manuel of using the body fat of his victims in order to make soap which he would then sell to the public. This very gruesome rumor proved to be true. He was arrested in September of 1852 in Nombela and he was later transferred to Allariz. He was put on trial for the murders of 13 people ranging in age from 10 to 47. It was during his trial that things once again took a very strange turn as Manuel offered a defense that shocked everyone.