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Brazil's most prolific serial killers

Guns overlaid on the Brazilian flag

Brazil has quite the reputation for truly jaw-dropping serial killer grotesquery. Not only that, but with a judicial system that’s often quite flawed, many of those killers eventually tracked down and jailed were released far too early.

Let’s take a look at Brazil’s deadliest serial killers.

Pedro Rodrigues Filho – 71 victims

Brazilian law just isn’t set up to be able to deal with a murderer on the scale of Pedro Rodrigues Filho. He was given a 128-year sentence for having killed more than 70 people (mostly suspected criminals and murderers), but the law prohibits anyone serving more than 30 years behind bars. So, in 2007, the state had to release him. He served a second spell inside, leaving in 2018. He was murdered himself by two men in early 2023.

Born with a deformed skull due to the severity of his father’s abuse of his mother, ‘Killer Petey’ murdered his father after the violent patriarch killed Pedro’s mother. Not only did he kill him, but he also ate the man’s heart. This came after Pedro had already killed 10 times before his 18th birthday.

The murders didn’t stop in prison. It’s thought that he killed 47 other prisoners during his time inside. This may sound unbelievable, but when you consider that Filho once murdered an entire gang after they killed his pregnant girlfriend, you start to get a measure of the incredible violence capacity of the man.

Florisvaldo de Oliveira – 50 victims

Florisvaldo de Oliveira served just 27 of the 113 years he was sentenced to. Not that the public was that much in arms, quite the opposite. 'Cabo Bruno', as he was also known, was something of an antihero to many.

A former officer with the Military Police of São Paulo State, Cabo Bruno was a vigilante. Targeting criminals from his city's smaller suburbs and districts, he shot and killed around 50 drug dealers, pimps and thieves between 1982 and 1983. Whether he acted alone out of zealousness or because he was part of a police ‘death squad’ has never been fully established.

He was shot dead in an ambush in September 2012 as he drove himself and his family back home from church. The list of aggrieved suspects who'd have wanted him dead was so long it made any investigation into his murder all but impossible.

Francisco das Chagas Rodrigues de Brito – 30 victims

A truly shocking serial killer of children, Francisco das Chagas Rodrigues de Brito is believed to have killed up to 42 young children in the states of Maranhão and Pará between 1989 and 2003. He stalked, kidnapped, sexually abused and killed the children, often emasculating them and abusing their bodies post-mortem.

He has confessed fully and is serving a lengthy prison sentence, although it is likely that he may be released one day.

‘I did this because something was guiding me, directing me,’ he explained to authorities. ‘It was like a voice in my head. And it was that thing - the voice - that determined what happened. Sometimes I'm revolted by what I did, but you must understand that something was using me to do this. Good people will understand that.’

Marcelo Costa de Andrade – 14 victims

Known as 'The Vampire of Niterói', Marcelo Costa de Andrade is a Brazilian paedophile and serial killer who brutally raped and strangled 14 boys in Rio de Janeiro and Niterói.

He carried out his crimes during a nine-month spree which grabbed the headlines because he drank the blood of his young victims in an attempt 'to try and become as beautiful as them'. He also later admitted to necrophilia.

On arrest, Andrade told police that it was his religious belief that children would automatically go to heaven if they died before they were 13 years old. Adding that he had 'done them a favour by sending them to Heaven'. He was declared insane and ordered to carry out his sentence in Sanatório Henrique Roxo Psychiatric Hospital.

The Rainbow Maniac – 13 victims

We end with an unidentified serial killer responsible for killing gay men in Carapicuíba, a suburb of São Paulo, between July 2007 and August 2008. The murders took place in the city's Paturis Park. 13 men were shot and killed. Because of the victims' sexuality, the murderer gained the moniker of 'The Rainbow Maniac' in the press.

Police were quick to determine intense homophobia as the killer's motive, given that Paturis Park is known to be a popular spot for homosexual sex workers to meet with clients.

In December 2008, a suspect - ex-policeman Jairo Francisco Franco - was arrested and tried. He was released in 2011 after a jury found him not guilty.