Since he was introduced in the novel Red Dragon in 1981, speculation has existed over the basis of the character Hannibal Lecter. Various writers have tried to link the character with real life serial killers such as Albert Fish or Andrei Chikatilo. The character’s creator, Thomas Harris, revealed the real life source in the summer of 2013 although he did not then reveal the man’s real name, referring to him as a Dr. Salazar.
Harris revealed that while working as a reporter he visited the Nuevo Leon State Prison in Monterrey, Mexico to interview an inmate there, when he learned that the inmate, Dykes Simmons, had been shot during an escape attempt about one year previously. Simmons life had been saved by another inmate, whom Harris called Dr. Salazar. Introduced to the doctor by the warden, Harris became intrigued by the prisoner’s questions regarding Simmons’s disfigurement, asking for details of Simmons’s victims, and how they had suffered.
Harris later learned from the warden that Dr. Salazar was himself imprisoned for murder and that he was jailed for life, criminally insane. The warden informed Harris that the doctor would never be released from custody.
Armed with Harris’ story reporters traced the Mexican prison records and discovered that Dr. Salazar was in fact Alfredo Trevino, a physician from a wealthy Monterrey family. While practicing medicine there Trevino killed his lover and mutilated his body, a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. Trevino was suspected of several additional murders which occurred in the area but there was not enough evidence to charge him.
After his sentence was commuted, Trevino served 20 years in prison and was released in 1981 – coincidentally the same year Hannibal Lecter appeared. He returned to the practice of medicine in Mexico and died there in 2009.