Murders in Brazil

NOTE: I thought this story had gone away, but it's evident that it continues to resurface as I received an email yesterday where it was mentioned. In order to once again clarify the situation, I decided to repost this old page from the web site.


The media has reported that six people were killed on November 14, 1998, three of them children, by members of the United Pentecostal Church of Brazil. It was also alleged that the pastor of this church, Francisco Bezerra de Moraes, aka 'Toto,' was a participant and inspired the killings. Facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted, six members of this church have been arrested as suspects in the murders. At least three of the suspects, including the pastor, have allegedly confessed to the killings.

Through an unnamed source who is a current minister in the United Pentecostal Church, I have been informed that these reports are not true and that the government of Brazil may be involved in trying to frame this pastor. The person confirmed that this church is part of the UPCI. It was stated that the pastor was not involved in the murders, but that the government was setting them up, trying to make it appear as if the pastor and his wife were involved. An e-mail sent to the main headquarters of the UPCI in Missouri went unanswered.

2/23/99 Update: According to a different source from the UPCI, it has been stated that "The information you received from the UPC pastor was incorrect. The information I have is directly -- and I do mean directly -- from a member of the Foreign Missions Board. The church was NOT UPCI affiliated.

Again -- the building the murderers were using was formerly occupied by a UPCI church. When the "pentecostal" congregation moved in they chose (for reasons unknown) to represent themselves as a UPCI congregation. I'm not sure if the exact number of people murdered was six, but I do know that it was a large number, and some of the victims were children. It was a tragic event, and the news coverage has named the UPCI as perpetrators. This misinformation has led to persecution of many saints in Brazil. The UPCI is pursuing legal avenues to have the media retract the incorrect information.

As far as I know, the pastor of the congregation representing themselves as UPCI (and others) were arrested for the crime(s). I don't know if the U.S. government is involved -- the perpetrators were not U.S. citizens."

Since this site does have a secondary focus on the UPCI, I also feel that if this story (as reported by the media) is false or inaccurate, that this information needs to be presented just as strongly as other issues are presented on this site. The UPCI is being linked to this tragedy and had no involvement in it. Please do not continue to link this horrible tragedy with the UPCI.

For those of you who may not be aware of the situation, I will attempt to share the information that I have been able to obtain through news reports on the Internet. At the end of this article, I will list the areas where this information may be obtained.


The News as Related Via the Media

The following is how the incidents have been reported by various news agencies and reporters. The information was gathered from four separate accounts: "International: Worshippers beaten to death by cult" written by Jeremy McDermott for "The Daily Telegraph" (December 2, 1998), "Latin America Briefs" as reported by "The Associated Press" (December 1, 1998), "Six die in vicious Brazilian sect beatings" written by Julio Villaverde for "Reuters" (November 17, 1998), and "Brazil cult leader says God ordered killings" written by Phil Stewart for "Reuters" (December 1, 1998).

The murders appear to have started on November 14, 1998.  Whether they all took place on this date is unclear. Described as a rogue branch, The United Pentecostal Church of Brazil is located in the deep Amazon on a rubber tree plantation near the Tauari River. The closest town is in the state of Acre, which borders Peru and Bolivia.  

Concerned about demons invading his village and nearly all his congregation, it was alleged that the 35 year old pastor, Francisco Bezerra de Moraes, announced during a sermon to the congregation of 30-60 members (depending on which report is read) that he heard "voices from Jesus ordering a former leader of the group and all his followers to be punished." Said to have communicated with God since he was eight, the pastor was described as a miracle working prophet, being able to change the color of the sun.

It appears that after this announcement the pastor and others allegedly used clubs, metal chains and fists to whip, beat and stamp on others in the congregation. It was reported that the pastor said the "victims had to be purified because they had been possessed by the devil" and that he expected to be taken into heaven "after wiping out the enemies of God." Men, women and children were beaten.  

After daily venerations of the pastor's wife, further "disciplinary" torture, accompanied by shouts of "out, Satan," allegedly followed over several days. In the aftermath, three children and three adults were dead. Two boys, ages three and four/five, were allegedly killed by their own father, Adalberto Taveira de Souza, after being ordered to do so by the pastor. It was reported that the father said his children turned into wide faced "monsters" with long fingernails and fat legs after their deaths. The mother of these boys was allegedly killed by the pastor as her husband watched. Another boy, 13, was also allegedly murdered by his father, Francisco Lopes da Silva, after transforming "into a demon" in front of others. Two men were also killed.

Francisco Oliveira de Franca, the former leader, escaped after faking his death and trudging over 60 miles to the closest town, reaching authorities around Tarauaca on Monday. It was reported that he had been badly beaten with metal chains and wooden sticks. By the time Brazilian police reached the scene the following Sunday, bodies had already started to decompose and had been attacked by animals. Inspectors, forensic authorities and psychiatrists were brought in to question the members of the congregation once they were brought to Tarauaca.  

It is reported that those suspected of the murders were calm, showing no remorse. They denied taking alcohol or drugs. "Reuters" stated that during a telephone interview with Pastor Francisco Bezerra de Morais, he admitted that he and his followers murdered these six people, stating "those children were demons."  

Arrested and being held in prison in Tarauaca, Acre, are the pastor, his wife, Adalberto Taveira de Souza, Francisco Lopes da Silva, and two others. Unildo Rodriguez de Souza Filho is the head of police in Tarauaca. Silvano Alves Rabelo is the deputy secretary of Acre's security bureau.

Cult Leader Says God Ordered Killings- From Reuters News 12/02/1998


These reports at least used to be accessed through "The Electric Library", and the "Electronic Telegraph," where you only need to register in order to use their system. An account may also be seen on the "Cults 'R Us" web site. Scroll down to "United Pentecostal Church of Brazil."


Originally posted February 21, 1999 - Updated February 13, 2000


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