Spanish police encountered Tomas Gimeno shortly after he is alleged to have killed his two young daughters, but let him go, it has been revealed.
The revelation comes as Spanish society struggles to come to terms with the horrific case, which sees the girls' father accused of murdering them before dumping their tiny bodies at sea.
Investigators combing the seabed near the Canary Islands found the body of 6-year-old Olivia, stuffed into a bag and tied to an anchor at a depth of 1km.
Her 1-year-old sister Anna is still missing and presumed dead.
Gimeno and the girls went missing on April 27 in Tenerife, the largest island in the archipelago off West Africa.
On that day, Gimeno went to his ex-wife Beatriz Zimmerman's home to pick up Anna before picking up Olivia from an after-school class.
Nobody answered the door when Zimmerman visited the home later that night.
Police late found sedatives and muscle relaxants, El Periodico reported.
Police reportedly believe Gimeno drugged and killed his children that night, before dumping the bodies at sea.
He was seen at the local marina that night, without his children, loading suitcases and bags onto his boat in multiple trips.
On one of those trips to his parked Audi, he was stopped by police for breaching a Covid curfew.
They let him go and he has not been seen since, his empty boat found the following day.
Zimmerman alleges he messaged her that night, telling her she would never see him or their children again.
Gimeno reportedly never accepted Zimmerman's relationship with a new Belgian partner.
Numerous political figures and civil society groups on Friday condemned Olivia's death and showed support for the girls' mother.
"I cannot imagine the pain of the mother of little Anna and Olivia," tweeted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. "My hug, my love and that of my whole family, who today sympathizes with Beatriz and her loved ones."
The Canary Islands' president Angel Victor Torres tweeted: "Weeks hoping to receive hopeful news and today we receive the worst possible, one that freezes our soul, about the little girls from Tenerife, Anna and Olivia."
Speaking at a women's forum on Friday, Spain's Queen Letizia expressed "pain and sadness" for the deaths of Olivia and a 17-year-old woman killed by her partner in southern Spain earlier this week.
"I don't think there is anyone this morning who is not trying to put themselves in the shoes of the people who love these murdered girls," Letizia said.
Women's rights organisations have called for protests later on Friday across Spain against the recent uptick of violence against women.
Men have killed at least 18 women so far this year in Spain, according to data from the Equality Ministry, which has recorded 1096 deaths since 2003, when the country started keeping data on crimes of gender violence. Abusers often use children as means to inflict harm on their partners or ex-partners: since 2013, 39 minors have been murdered in the country by their biological fathers.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz
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- Additional reporting, AP