‘Cooking Up Murder’ Explained: How Did Heydi Die? Where Is Cesar Roman Now?

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Cooking Up Murder: Uncovering the Story of Cesar Roman is a new three-part Spanish docuseries released on Netflix that brings back to discussion a strange case from 2018. On August 13, 2018, authorities in the Spanish capital of Madrid found a suitcase that contained a human torso with all its limbs and head cut off. The storage unit near which the shocking discovery was made belonged to famous chef and restaurateur Cesar Roman, a man who had been at the center of media attention many times. By its end, Cooking Up Murder does an adequate job of presenting the dangerous possibilities that a frail male ego can lead to, especially when the perpetrator spins a web of lies.


Who is Cesar Roman?

Cesar Roman’s first claim to fame in life is based on the characteristic breaded and deep-fried dish from Asturian cuisine, the cachopo. The iconic dish, which is a type of breaded meat cutlet often served hot as an accompaniment to cold beer, indirectly made way for a particular man to make regular appearances in the media. In 2016, a competition named “Best Cachopo of Spain, 2016” was held, and a man named Cesar Roman entered his restaurant in the running. When the authorities finally announced the winner, Cesar Roman’s business, La Canada, was determined to serve the best cachopo dish in the entirety of Spain. Roman, who was also the main chef at the place, was delighted by the accomplishment, and he was quickly given the title of King of Cachopo. The recognition soon brought him into the limelight of lifestyle media, with various prominent individuals visiting his restaurant, and the chef himself left no stone unturned in promoting his business. Roman was also extremely skilled in building and maintaining communications, and his customers supposedly loved him and the service he was providing.

Investments from advertisers and other sides of the media also started to flow in, as everyone wanted to cover the gastronomical brilliance that was being cooked up at La Canada. Roman’s nature and attitude, particularly his dynamic personality, all fit in the world of media very well, and within a very short time, he became a public figure with quite some recognition. He also often talked about how culinary arts were a generational matter for him, as he was the fourth generation running the cider bar and restaurant, La Canada. Roman claimed that his family, although of Venezuelan origin, had settled in the Basque region of Spain, where they learned from the rich cuisine of the place and opened their family restaurant. The business had begun in 1890, which naturally convinced people about the authenticity and expertise that Cesar Roman was bringing, and it was a huge hit among audiences and customers alike. 

With cash flowing in, business possibilities were also increasing rapidly, and Roman opened up his first haute cuisine lifestyle restaurant, A Canada Delic Experience. As the name suggests, this venture was clearly targeted toward the richer crowd, selling them an authentic and close-to-original experience at a high price. However, the owner wanted to cater to the remaining social tiers as well, and the La Canada restaurant entered a franchise model, opening up multiple stores in different areas of Madrid. Roman wanted to fill up any gap in the market that he saw fit, and he even started a cachopo delivery service as well. By now, he was such a hit in the media that Cesar Roman went on to win two other competitions as well—for being the best cider pourer in Madrid and then for the best restaurant owner. Along with the great money that he was making, his lifestyle greatly changed as well, and he started to live lavishly, spending a lot on a regular basis. Therefore, by 2017, Cesar Roman was quite a distinguished figure despite having started from very humble roots.


Why was Cesar Roman arrested?

On August 13, 2018, around the afternoon, emergency responders rushed to put out a fire in a Madrid building and incidentally came across a suspicious suitcase lying under a staircase. When they opened the top lid of the suitcase, the contents made them immediately report to the Madrid police and ask for their help. When the police arrived and started their investigation, it was confirmed that the suitcase contained a human torso, with all limbs and the head cut off from it. Two deep craters on the chest suggested that the body belonged to a female, and the breasts had been cut off for some strange reason. Some other clues were also found near the suitcase, such as a knife and two bottles of sodium hydroxide, which had been clearly used to decompose the body. The fluids from inside the suitcase, a result of the decomposition process, had started to seep out onto the floor. The spot where the dead body, or rather the severed torso, was found became important, and the building was analyzed.

The entire building housed industrial storage units that had been rented to various companies and the suitcases had been found near the units of a particular restaurant business. The storage units belonged to Cesar Roman, and this was how the police first came across his name in this case. The janitor at the building stated that he had spotted a fire in one of the units shortly before a man matching Roman’s description walked out and assured him that he had dealt with the fire. When the fire actually spread, the fire department had to be called, which eventually led to the discovery of the body. With no other links to the case, the police naturally tried contacting the celebrity chef, only to realize that Cesar Roman was nowhere to be found in Madrid. In fact, none of his acquaintances or business associates could reach him over the phone in the last couple of days either. 

Upon further investigation, the police learned that Roman had gotten romantically involved with a waitress only a few months earlier, and the young woman was a Honduran national named Heydi Paz Bulnes. When Heydi’s mother, Gloria, who was also living in Madrid, was questioned, she revealed that her daughter was indeed living with Roman, and she had had no contact with her in the last three days. This was not very surprising because Gloria and Heydi’s relationship was going through a turbulent phase at the time because of the latter’s intense attachment and love for Roman. While descriptions of the young woman and her necklace did suggest that the body in the suitcase was indeed Heydi’s, a DNA test was also conducted with samples collected from Gloria. With the victim now identified, the police started a nationwide search for Roman, and he was eventually found a few months later in Zaragoza. Having fled to the northeastern part of the country, Roman had changed his appearance and was even working as the chef at a local restaurant, where his boss suddenly discovered his identity from the news. The local police rushed to the scene and arrested Cesar Roman as the prime suspect in the murder of his partner.


What is the most possible theory behind Heydi’s death?

When more details about the relationship between Roman and Heydi were revealed, it also inadvertently disclosed the real nature of Cesar Roman. The two initially met at one of Roman’s restaurants, where Heydi had been hired as a server, and one night, her ex-lover visited the place and got into a fight with her. Being the boss and also the prideful and egoistic person that he was, Roman stepped in and made acquaintances with Heydi, making her his lover from that very night. Based on the accounts of numerous people who knew the couple, it is quite clear that Roman made tall claims about his business and wealth, along with his immeasurable love for her, all of which convinced the naïve Heydi to get involved. But eventually, the love obviously fizzled out, and the woman wanted to step out of the relationship and even get involved with her abusive ex-lover as well. 

It was then that Heydi realized the extent of Roman’s controlling and manipulative nature, as he simply could not accept the fact that his lover of a few months wanted to leave him. He was always the one in control of what the couple would do, and Heydi was hardly ever given any free choice. Not only was Roman older by many years, but the fact that he used to be the boss and Heydi was his employee also affected and shaped the relationship in an unhealthy shape. While he had earlier made claims about his brilliant business acumen, Roman’s restaurants were also failing by this time, resulting in his workers not getting paid for quite a few months. Heydi also naturally left his job at his place and joined another bar named Bacanal in June 2018. She found herself in desperate need of money as she had borrowed an amount from her mother, which the latter had taken from a bank, and it was not favorable when her new job did not pay on time either. As she and Roman were still in touch all this while, with the man trying to coax her into staying with him, she asked for his help regarding this matter. Roman got involved in a bar fight at Bacanal and even spent a night detained at the police station.

Heydi’s desperation for money was quite evident, and similarly, Roman’s world was also crumbling from a financial perspective. Text messages exchanged between the two in August suggest that they were trying to steal something from one of their friends’ houses, but the plan failed. Based on the information collected by the police, the woman called up a friend of hers from Roman’s apartment on August 4, informing them that she was scared of what he might do to her. That night, which was the early morning of the 5th, after work, Heydi got together with a friend and partied till dawn, when she placed one last phone call to Cesar Roman before completely disappearing. The theory presented by the authorities, and also the most probable one, is that Heydi and Cesar fought over this phone call, and she then took a taxi to his place, where the couple continued arguing.

It was already a known fact that Roman was extremely possessive and manipulative, and his unhealthily inflated ego was also something everyone had noticed. Therefore, the police believe that he killed Heydi during this argument out of anger and a psychopathic rage for her wanting to leave him. Roman then chopped up the body, put the torso inside a suitcase, and then called a taxi in the morning. He used the taxi to reach the industrial storage lots, claiming that the suitcase simply contained his clothes and other things, and then kept it inside his storage unit. The knife later found at the place belonged to a set from the man’s restaurant, and the bottles of the acid had his fingerprints on them as well. Heydi’s breasts, which had silicone implants, were cut out from her body for some unknown reason. It could be that Roman wanted to sell them off out of desperation for money, but then later decided against it. From the 5th to the 13th, the suitcase remained in his lot before he returned to permanently get rid of it. Roman probably pulled the suitcase to the spot under the staircase and tried to set the floor on fire so that the body would also be destroyed along with everything else. 


Where is Cesar Roman now?

Once the case went up for trial in court, the tower of lies that Cesar Roman had built came crumbling down. He was found to have always craved public attention, and he tried numerous things to become famous before succeeding with his restaurant. Roman had joined a number of political parties and unions, had befriended quite a few important people, and even worked as a journalist, all of which were based mostly on lies he had told. He had been born and brought up in Madrid, with no connections with the Basque region or Venezuela whatsoever, as he stated earlier. Roman’s parents abandoned him and his siblings at a very early age, and he was raised by his grandparents. When he finally entered the restaurant business, he literally invented the title “Best Cachopo in Spain, 2016,” as the organization that held the competition was his own, and he was the only competitor. The popularity of his restaurants was solely based on this made-up prize, and the customer reviews on the internet actually revealed that his cachopos tasted quite bad.

With regards to the death of Heydi, he tried to claim that the woman was involved in drug gangs and had gotten into trouble recently for stealing a significant amount of cocaine. His initial belief was that Heydi was still alive somewhere in South America, and the body in the bag belonged to someone else, completely unrelated to him. Roman wanted to pin the blame on this drug gang, which also supposedly consisted of a high-ranking police official, but was too afraid to take names in court. He said that he had to think about the well-being of his daughter and ex-wife while taking these names, but he has not named anyone even now after being in police protection for quite a few years. He tried to malign the character of Heydi as well, stating that she took drugs on a regular basis, although no trace of any drug was found on her body. Rather, Roman was the one who used to take cocaine regularly and was extremely violent and abusive towards women and even pet animals in the past. 

During the trials, Roman’s ego and horrific attitude led to his defense lawyers parting ways on two occasions. The third lawyer who represented him, Ana Pena, was also frustrated by his refusal to abide by her counsel, and at present, she, too, regrets the matter. Finally, on June 1, 2021, the jury announced their conviction of Cesar Ramon being the murderer of his partner, Heydi Bulnes. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the murder and dismemberment of the woman, and he was immediately put in jail. In April of 2024, Ramon finally pleaded guilty to the murder and wrote a letter of apology to Heydi’s family, but he had also stated earlier that he might do so to shorten his sentence. So far, this change in his statement has not affected his sentence, and he continues to be in prison at this time.


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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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