Brazil Voodoo Priests Engage in Human Sacrifice
BRASILIA August 25, 2000 (Reuters) - Brazilian police said Friday they arrested two self-proclaimed voodoo priests for the murder of a 6-year-old boy who bled to death in a black-magic ceremony.
In statements to police, Joaquim Alves, 71, and his girlfriend Priscila Souza Ferreira, 22, blamed each other for the murder of Carlos Andres de Jesus Barros, who disappeared last Thursday in the impoverished Brazilian state of Bahia. Police said the pair was suspected in other child killings.
The boy was found dead at the bottom of a well with his clothes removed, his hands and feet bound and two puncture wounds in his stomach, authorities said.
The couple led police to the body after their shantytown neighbors tipped-off authorities.
"One neighbor called, saying the boy kept crying and screaming, that he was suffering," said lead investigator Juliana de Oliveira Soares.
"Inside the house, we found a series of religious icons, all of them of spirits that do harm. Then we found the body."
Enraged after learning of the murder, townspeople Friday destroyed Alves' makeshift home in the tropical city of Vitoria da Conquista.
Bahia is the center of the country's rich Afro Brazilian religious culture, where followers often are "possessed" by spirits during religious ceremonies. Animal sacrifice is practiced on special occasions, but human sacrifice is not allowed.
Soares said the two voodoo priests killed the boy after Alves' 10-year-old son led him to the house. Alves told police that his girlfriend has tried to kill other children as well.
"We are investigating the possibility they have killed other children. This, unfortunately, is a possibility, but I am not able to say more at this time," Soares said.
Some leaders of the Afro Brazilian religious culture tried to distance themselves from the slaying.
"These people, these are witch-doctors. They have nothing to do with any houses of worship here," said Antonio Bispo, an official at the Bahian Federation of Afro Cults.
Last year, Brazilian police arrested a witch doctor on charges of murder and grave robbing after finding 16 skulls and other bones buried beneath his home. The remains of a small child also were found, as was a photo of an infant with the words "Para Morrer," or "To Die," written on the backside. ^ REUTERS@