The police photos seem to show a small boy being protected by the military – another victim, perhaps, of the savage drugs wars ripping Mexico apart.
But the slight, dark-haired teenager chewing his fingernail is not an innocent soul caught up in the crossfire.
"I participated in four executions," the 14-year-old assassin calmly told police after his arrest at a Mexican airport, admitting to beheading his victims. "When we don't find the rivals, we kill innocent people, maybe a construction worker or a taxi driver."
Known as "El Ponchis" – the cloak – Edgar Jimenez was arrested alongside his 19-year-old sister at an airport near Cuernavaca, 50 miles south of Mexico City in Morelos state.
Edgar Jimenez aka El Ponchis The Cloak
The pair were heading to Tijuana, from where they intended to cross into the United States and stay with their mother in San Diego – where he was born. He was caught with two mobile phones that held photographs of tortured victims, and told police that his sister was in charge of disposing of the bodies.
With war-weary Mexicans despairing at the endless violence and thinking that nothing new could surprise them, the arrest and confession of "El Ponchis" has still managed to cause shock waves.
The teenage hitman had become a national obsession since a YouTube video a month ago showed footage of the youngster, initially believed to be 12 years old.
He said on Friday that he was kidnapped at the age of 11 and forced to work for the Cartel of the South Pacific (CPS), a branch of the splintered Beltran Leyva gang, and that he had participated in at least four decapitations.
"Were you scared?" asked a reporter from "No," he replied. "They drugged me and forced me to do it."
The pair said that they worked for "El Negro", the leader of the CPS drugs gang, with Jiminez being paid $2,500 for each murder. The sister said that she was the girlfriend of the leader.
Jimenez was caught with his two sisters, Elizabeth (left) and Oliva (right) who were trying to get to San Diego where their mother lives
The number of young people aged 18 and under detained for drug-related crimes has climbed steadily since President Felipe Calderón launched his assault on cartels in 2006. Figures from the Attorney General's office show that there were 482 arrests of under 18s in 2006, and 810 in 2009. The tally this year is set to be even higher.
Mr Calderón admitted that "in the most violent areas of the country, there is an unending recruitment of young people without hope, without opportunities."
The federal government has said the cartels are recruiting ever younger assassins to replace those killed or arrested in the current wars among the gangs and with the government.
The government also has said that cartels prefer under age youths because they receive shorter sentences if caught.
Neighbours said the siblings were living in a cartel "safe house" in a poor neighbourhood of Jiutepec, a working-class suburb of Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. The area has an industrial area with Nissan, Unilever and other factories, rustic single-level concrete homes and some farms.
Peggy Ostrosky, a psychologist with the University of Mexico, described the teenager as a psychopath. "Some people are born bad, but the point is that the family can form the personality.
"In this case there is no mother figure, nor a father, to guide them. There is no one to rescue them because they don't go to school, they have no master or psychologist.
"They like to kill, to steal, and they don't need to conform to society because they are mistreated and become very hostile from a young age."
The teenager and his sister are currently in custody in Morelos state. The federal governor, who would usually deal with juvenile crimes, has asked the federal authorities to take over the case given its severity.
"I know what will happen to me now," El Ponchis said. "I regret getting involved in this and killing people. But when I'm released I want to go straight. I'll work, do anything, as long as it's not a return to this."