RIO DE JANEIRO – A third person was arrested Saturday in connection with the murder of a British journalist and Brazilian indigenous peoples expert who went missing nearly two weeks ago while deep in the Amazon, police said before sharing horrific details about how the couple was murdered.
The disappearances of Dom Phillips, 57, a freelance journalist, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, 41, a former government official who worked in the area to fight illegal fishing, hunting and mining, sparked a 10-day search and later a manhunt in the densely populated Brazil. Atlantic rainforest.
An analysis of human remains discovered in the region earlier this week found that they were those of Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira.
Mr Phillips was shot in the chest, federal police said in a statement Saturday, adding that Mr Pereira was shot in the head and abdomen. The men had been killed by a “firearm with typical hunting ammunition”, according to a police statement.
Jefferson da Silva Lima turned himself in at a police station in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon on Saturday after initially fleeing a warrant for his arrest. Authorities had previously arrested two brothers, Amarildo and Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, in connection with the men’s disappearance.
Earlier this week, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira confessed to murdering the men and led police to the site where their remains were buried in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest.
On Saturday night, none of the three arrested men had been charged.
Witnesses saw the De Oliveira brothers in a boat following Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira shortly before disappearing into a remote river, according to investigative documents reviewed by The New York Times. The day before, according to the local Indigenous group Univaja, the brothers had threatened a group, including Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira, by showing them a gun.
Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were last seen on June 5, traveling in a boat on the Itaquaí River in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas, near the border with Peru and Colombia.
Mr Phillips had gone to the Javari Valley Indigenous Reserve to interview indigenous patrol teams who are cracking down on illegal fishing and hunting there. Pereira helped set up those patrols, and his work had earned him enemies among criminal fishermen, poachers and miners in the region. Mr. Phillips had been working on a book during the trip and the two men were on their way home when they disappeared.