‘Burning Body — The True Story Behind the Mystery Netflix Series

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The Big Picture

  • Burning Body and Rosa Peral’s Tapes offer a compelling and complicated story based on the true crime of Rosa Peral, known as el Crimen de la Guardia Urbana.
  • The media’s portrayal of Rosa Peral as a promiscuous police officer influenced public perception and cast suspicion on her character, both in the documentary film and in the retelling of the story in Burning Body.
  • Rosa Peral’s relationships with multiple partners, including Pedro Rodriguez and Albert Lopez, became key factors in the investigation and trials, with conflicting accounts of her involvement in the murder.

Netflix’s latest releases focus on the life and crime of Rosa Peral, who was responsible for one of Spain’s most notorious killings. The central character is portrayed similarly in both the eight-episode series “Burning Body” and the documentary film “Rosa Peral’s Tapes.” In “Burning Body,” Rosa Peral is depicted as a torn lover desperate to reunite with her partner, while in “Rosa Peral’s Tapes,” she presents herself as a victim of her circumstances. Despite offering slightly different perspectives on the crime, which became known as the “Crimen de la Guardia Urbana” (the Crime of the City Guard), both Netflix releases tell a compelling and complex story inspired by a horrifying true story.

Although introduced at a later stage in the film “Burning Body,” the documentary’s narrative begins with the media’s perception of Rosa Peral. The media portrayed her as a promiscuous police officer suspected of murdering her partner. In her initial interview while in custody, Rosa Peral emphasizes that she was already a victim of media sensationalism prior to the start of her trial. Throughout the film, portrayed by Úrsula Corberó from “Money Heist,” Rosa faces a similar realization during her trial. However, her biggest challenge in proving her innocence lies in her own troubled past, which raises significant doubts about her character and motives as a former police officer

Mystery Netflix Series “Burning Body”

When a police officer is murdered and set on fire, all eyes focus on two other agents; his girlfriend and her lover. Inspired by true events.

Release Date September 8, 2023

Creator Laura Sarmiento Pallarés

Cast Úrsula Corberó , Quim Gutierrez , José Manuel Poga , Isak Férriz

Genres Crime , Biography , Drama

Who Is Rosa Peral from ‘Burning Body’?

The story of Burning Body begins with the discovery of the charred body of 38-year-old Guardia Urbana de Barcelona officer Pedro Rodriguez (José Manuel Poga) inside his burned car at the Foix reservoir. Despite efforts by Pedro’s partner at the time, Rosa Peral, and her on-and-off lover, Albert López, to shift the focus of the authorities onto Rosa’s ex-husband Rubén, known as Javi (Isak Férriz) in Burning Body, they were eventually caught for their involvement in the crime. Burning Body delves into Rosa Peral’s tumultuous past in an attempt to understand her motives for the crime – an approach that was also taken by the prosecution and media during the real-life trials.

Rosa and Rubén started their relationship in 2000 and tied the knot in 2013. They had two daughters together. Burning Body is based on some of the rumors that circulated about Rosa’s early life when news of her involvement in Pedro’s death first emerged. There were false claims that Rosa worked as a stripper at a club where she met Rubén, which added to the media’s portrayal of her as a seductress. In Burning Body, Úrsula Corberó portrays Rosa in this light, attempting to seduce her future husband through a sensual dance. As a result of her troubled relationship with Rubén, Rosa became closer to Albert, her patrol partner. However, she didn’t pursue a relationship with Albert for long due to their differing visions of the future.

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During this time, Rosa found support from Pedro Rodriquez, an officer who had previously been accused of committing an act of violence against a biker. However, it was Pedro’s support during Rosa’s trial that truly made her choose him. In 2008, Rosa had an affair with another officer, Óscar, without her husband’s knowledge. When Rosa tried to end the relationship, Óscar allegedly sent a mass email with compromising pictures of Rosa, according to her account. Some within the police department believed that Rosa herself had sent the pictures. Rosa’s multiple relationships during this time and the “revenge porn” trial only added to her femme fatale image once she became a suspect in Pedro’s death. Furthermore, her continued relationship with Albert, whom she claims is guilty, from 2013 to 2017, further tarnished her reputation in the public eye. The love triangle, which came to light after Pedro’s death, did not help Rosa Peral in her efforts to prove her innocence.

Rosa and Albert’s Relationship Proved Lethal for Pedro

Rosa Peral initially denied her involvement with Pedro when Albert discovered them living together in January 2017. She later explained that she felt threatened by Albert, but this only raised further suspicions about her intentions and reinforced the perception of her as someone seeking multiple relationships. In April, Albert and Rosa met at a coffee shop in the company of her friends. In the film “Burning Body,” Albert (played by Quim Gutiérrez) presented a ring to Rosa, which her friends claimed she happily accepted.

While the series leaves some uncertainty about whether Rosa asked Albert to meet at the café, the documentary film clarifies that Rosa was the one who shared her location with Albert. A friend who was present at the location later testified during the trial that Rosa picked Pedro at that moment. Additionally, according to the friend’s account, the scene showing Úrsula Corberó’s Rosa wearing both rings from Albert and Pedro did indeed occur.

Rosa stated that she chose Pedro because he had accepted her daughters, something she believed Albert would never do. However, despite Rosa’s repeated claims, numerous email and WhatsApp exchanges indicate a close association between Albert and Rosa. One particular audio message, while not explicitly indicating plans for Pedro’s murder, does suggest that Rosa was in contact with a person, likely Albert, and planning to take action soon. This message became crucial evidence for the prosecution, providing enough basis for them to proceed, especially given the inconsistencies in Rosa’s statements about her relationship with Albert.

The following day, April 20, Albert purchased a phone that was used twice, one of which was on the day Pedro was supposedly killed. Additionally, the telephone records indicated that Albert was near Rosa’s house, strengthening the suspicion that Albert and Rosa were in regular contact leading up to the brutal murder. There were a total of 28 minutes of phone calls between Rosa and Albert. However, there is insufficient concrete evidence to indicate that Rosa and Albert plotted to murder Pedro during these calls or during their meeting at Rosa’s house on April 25.

Did Rosa’s Daughter Witness the Crime?

Ursula Corberó as Rosa in Episode 4 of 'Burning Body.'
Image via Netflix 

On the night of April 30, Rosa and Pedro came back from a family dinner. Shortly after, Rosa phoned Albert, seemingly in response to numerous messages from him. Following their initial conversation, Albert then called Rosa again using the second phone he had purchased on April 20. It is believed that Rosa then drugged Pedro before Albert arrived at the house to carry out the final act: the murder of Pedro Rodríguez. According to Rosa’s lawyer Olga Arderiu’s interview in Rosa Peral’s Tapes, this theory arose from the testimony of Antonia, Rubén’s partner at the time of the trial.

Rosa’s underage daughter did not give testimony, so Antonia was also not allowed to provide a substitute testimony. However, she was able to act out what Rosa’s daughter had indicated she had witnessed, creating the impression for those present that Rosa’s daughter had seen an intoxicated Pedro on the night of the events. According to Olga, despite the judge’s insistence that the testimony should not be documented, it did influence the jury’s decision. In the series Burning Body, it is strongly suggested that Rosa’s daughter, named Sophia, strongly suspected her mother. In real life, however, Rosa emphasizes that her daughter never directly made any statements, and only Antonia, who did not have a friendly relationship with Rosa, spread this falsehood.

Following the commission of the crime, Rosa and Albert collaborated to create the illusion that Pedro was still alive through a series of messages. The book Burning Body implies that Rosa may have gone as far as making financial transactions on behalf of Pedro. Another effort to maintain the facade was Rosa’s father’s false statement claiming to have seen Pedro alive on May 2. While Rosa’s mother cracked under interrogation in Burning Body, it was actually Rosa’s father who later admitted that it was all a lie.

Who Killed Pedro Rodríguez — Rosa or Albert?

Quim Gutiérrez as Albert and Ursula Corberó as Rosa in Episode 7 of 'Burning Body.'
Image via Netflix 

During the interview, Rosa stated that she did not witness the actions of Albert towards Pedro before she was compelled to go with Albert to the location where Pedro’s car was eventually set on fire. Throughout the questioning, the prosecution focused on Rosa’s failure to seek assistance despite being a police officer. After the car was burned, Rosa was threatened and then left at her home by Albert. According to Rosa’s account of the events, primarily depicted in the documentary film, she refrained from seeking help or disclosing the circumstances surrounding Pedro’s death due to fear for her and her daughter’s safety.

However, “Burning Body” provides more insight into Albert’s trial testimony than the true crime documentary does. Rosa asserted that Albert committed the crime out of jealousy, but Albert claimed that Rosa acted alone and coerced him into supporting her out of love. Albert’s account aligns with the media’s portrayal of Rosa as a manipulative and cunning “Black Widow.”

While it was never definitively proven who was responsible for Pedro’s death, the evidence and situation indicated that both Albert and Rosa were somehow involved in the crime. They were both at the scene when Pedro was horrifically killed by fire. As a result, Rosa Peral was given a 25-year prison sentence and Albert was given a 20-year prison sentence by the jury. Currently, Rosa Peral is serving her sixth year at Mas Enric prison in Tarragona.

Burning Body is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.

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