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Francisco de Assis PEREIRA






A.K.A.: "The park maniac" - "Motoboy"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 11
Date of murders: 1997 - 1998
Date of arrest: August 4, 1998
Date of birth: November 29, 1967
Victims profile: Young women
Method of murder: Ligature strangulation
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Status: Sentenced to 268 years in prison
photo gallery

The case that broke in the news in early July 1998 when over a period of three days, four young female bodies were found at a forest reserve on the skirts of São Paulo became a free-for-all after Veja,

Brazil's leading news magazine, scooped the competition giving its cover to a close up of the suspect dubbed the "park maniac" with the quote: "It was I." It is hard to separate what it was sincere indignation from jealousy from being beaten at the news race. But the rest of the media were fast in condemning Veja for lack of scruples in obtaining privileged lawyer client information and then splashing it over its cover. To obtain the information the magazine infiltrated a woman reporter who presented herself as a law intern. Given the opportunity, however, it is probable that anyone of the accusers would have done the same, some experts pondered.

The police story introduced a new word to the Brazilian-Portuguese language: 'motoboy.' The word 'boy' is used in Brazil to designate an office worker, often a young one, in charge of doing errands and small office tasks like serving coffee. The suspect in the case, Francisco de Assis Pereira, 31, is a motorcycle courier who confessed to raping and killing nine women.

He was arrested near the Brazil-Uruguay border, when a fisherman with whom he was staying denounced him after having seen his picture on TV. Pereira had left the country for a short stay in Argentina and passed several police barriers without being identified. To arrive at the suspect police were helped in their investigation by a partially burned ID card that was found in a clogged toilet where Pereira worked. The document was from 18-year-old basketball player, Selma Ferreira Queiroz, one of the murderer's victims.

The finding on July 4 of two female bodies at Parque do Estado (State Park)—a 550-hectare forest park on São Paulo's southern border—was the first hint that there was a serial killer on the loose. Two days later two other bodies were found on the vicinity of the first ones. All four bodies were naked, lying face down, with their legs spread.

On July 7 the police had identified one of the bodies, that of Selma. On July 9, authorities added to the list of victims another young lady whose body was found in January in the same area and then another found in May. Before the end of the month the list would grow to include eight dead girls.

By July 15 several ladies had told authorities about their experience with the same man. They all had been approached by the maniac with the story that he was a talent scout looking for models and that he wanted to take their pictures.

After divulging drawings of the suspect based on the recollection of witnesses, the police, thanks to an anonymous tip, were able to get a picture of Pereira on July 17. The discovery of semen in Selma's body on July 30 made the police believe that they were close to getting serious evidence against the criminal. It was revealed a little later though that the semen sample was mishandled and could not be used.

Luck and Lack

The São Paulo police revealed that they have no laboratory to examine such samples and have to count on the good will of college labs to do the work. Some police officers used the occasion to complain that they didn't have enough vehicles to go out on patrol and that they had sometimes to make a collection among themselves to buy material for fingerprinting, for example.

On August 4 the suspect was arrested in Itaqui, state of Rio Grande do Sul, after being denounced by fisherman João Carlos Villaverde. During a press conference in São Paulo on August 7 the police indicted Pereira as the murderer of Selma Queiroz. Pereira denied being a murderer and launched a challenge to his accusers: "You have to prove it!" The phrase became the headline of Jornal da Tarde, sister publication of traditional O Estado de São Paulo.

That same night, talking to his lawyers and police officers, the suspect confessed to having killed nine women. The Veja cover story was based on transcripts from this candid talk. The self-confessed murderer then took police to a still-undiscovered body as evidence that he is saying the truth.

The press didn't omit the most clinical details often identifying victims and witnesses with full names. Folha de São Paulo, the leading paper in São Paulo, which had one of the less sensationalistic approaches, so described a police finding: "The spermatozoids were found in the rectum channel of Selma Ferreira Queiroz whose body is among those found at the park. They indicate that she had maintained anal sexual relations" "What if the girl did not maintain anything and was simply raped? She is not here anymore to tell her story," wrote Folha ombudswoman Renata Lo Prete, on her Sunday column, criticizing her own paper.

Jekyll and Hyde

Pereira was living in Santo André, the A of the ABCD region in the Greater São Paulo. The suspect had been investigated at the beginning of the year after a girl he was going out with disappeared and he was even jailed after being accused of rape in São José do Rio Preto—interior of São Paulo—in 1995. He posted bail and was let go at that occasion.

On explaining why he committed the crimes, Pereira told judge José Rui Borges: "I was possessed by an evil force." and added that he had a double-sided personality and that the "bad side" sometimes took over. Pereira's lawyers decided for a plea of insanity, hoping for a lighter sentence than 30 years in prison, which is the maximum sentence allowed under Brazilian law.

The suspect also confessed using shoelaces to strangle his victims after sexually abusing them. On his initial approach he was a charming seducer, who praised the prey and talked about their bright future as models. In the park he became a monster, strangling and biting their victims, sometimes taking pieces of their vulva.

Born and raised in an extremely religious family, Francisco de Assis, was named after the Italian saint Francis of Assisi. He explained: "I am a person with a good and a bad personality. Sometimes I am not able to dominate this dark side. I pray, I pray, but I cannot resist and then I chase after women. I wished that they would not go with me into the park, that they would run away."


Francisco de Assis Pereira (8+)

Through his lawyer Brazilian serial killer Francisco de Assis Pereira, confessed he is Sao Paolo's feared Park Maniac. "My client is guilty. My client is sick," lawyer Maria Elisa Munhol told reporters in comments broadcast by Globo Network television. This sweet-talking, roller-blader is believed to have charmed his way to mirdering nine young women and burying them in a wooded park in Sao Paolo. Pereira, 30, told investigators he was about to start eating his victims had his six-month killing spree not been uncovered.

Targeting women between the ages of 18 and 24, he strolled through the city's vast Parque do Estado, passing himself off as a fashion photographer. Pereira flattered his victims, telling them they had a bright future in modelling and drew them into secluded areas of the park for a "photo shoot." There, he is said to have strangled the women with shoelaces or scarves after sexually abusing them.

Pereira informally confessed to his lawyer and two others on the night of August 7, 1998. The next day he told police he was responsible for the eight bodies found in Sao Paolo's State Park. He also confessed to have killed Isadora Fraenkel and led police to her remains, a partly covered skeleton that he had burned with gasoline three days after the murder. He also tried to locate a tenth body, of a 15-year old girl, but failed. He testified about each killing in detail, but said he may have lost the actual count of his victims.

After his arrest the former motorcycle courier was nearly lynched by a mob of 200 people as police escorted him to a maximum security prison. Authorities say Pereira will be held in an isolated cell, saying he would almost certainly be killed if jailed with other prisoners. Pereira was caught on August 4 in Itaqui, state of Rio Grande do Sul, near the Argentine border after a frantic 23-day manhunt. He initially proclaimed his innocence, saying that he was unaware of that he was wanted by police and was heading to a skating competition, but later confessed to journalists and took police to the bodies, all of which were buried in the park. Nine women who escaped the killer's clutches helped police identify him.

On December 18, 2000, inmates at the Taubate House of Custody and Psychiatric Treatment tried to kill Pereira during a prison riot. Four inmates died in the disturbance. Authorities moved Pereira to another psychiatric facility to spare his life.



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