The Amazon rainforest is home to some of the most dangerous species in the world. This emblematic and mysterious jungle has been seen as a land of secrets and dangers. However, no one expected that this place was going to be the setting of one of the darkest, brutal, and most shocking crimes in Brazilian history. In 1989, the Amazonian town of Altamira received a sudden increase of reports of missing children. Not having clear clues about the disappearances, the authorities couldn’t do anything about it. By 1993, the reports rose to 19 missing children from 8 to 13 years old, with no trace or a clue to find them. By that time the bodies of five children were found dead with signs of torture and castration. It was determined that these murders were connected to the medical guild because the castrations seemed to be made by a medical expert. However, other than that, there was no evidence.
The authorities opened an investigation and began to connect the dots between the murders and the missing children. The bodies of the boys were identified as homeless children who worked on the streets, but most of the missing ones had been reported by their families. This fact unsettled and confused the detectives in charge of the investigation who thought that both cases couldn't be related, because who could be so depraved? All their efforts were futile until one day one boy came to them and explained how he had escaped from his captors. There's another version stating that two boys managed to escape after being castrated; however, there are no official records of this and there's only one confirmed name, Wanderlei Pinheiro, who testified in the trials.
The brutality Pinheiro described seemed as if ripped from the pages of a horror novel. Some of the atrocities he suffered were torture, rape, castration, and mutilation. He also explained that other children were stabbed to death and their organs were extracted and sold to the black market. Some unofficial versions state their captors even ate the organs, but no one has been able to confirm this. Brazilian society was shocked when Pinheiro identified them, since all were respected members of society. He named two doctors, a wealthy businessman, a police officer, and the leader of a religious cult, Valentina de Andrade.
Valentina de Andrade was the leader of the Superior Universal Alignment UFO cult, which believed the world was coming to an end, and only those who followed her precepts could be saved. She stated she was contacted by extraterrestrial beings that warned her about the inevitable doom; however, if she spread their word, they would send a spaceship to collect all her followers. In 1981, de Andrade started preaching about these new religious precepts, which assured God doesn't exist and Jesus was an alien messiah who had arrived to earth to teach us about enlightenment and love. Moreover, she was convinced that male children born after 1981 were the embodiment of evil and they had to be exterminated as a payment to these beings who would save them.
Since it all happened on a remote town, it took over 11 years to solve the case. There are no official numbers, since media gave different versions, but out of the 19 missing children, 5 were never found. The authorities captured four of the identified captors, but de Andrade managed to flee the country. After some years, she was finally arrested and the five main responsible for these murders were charged for the murders of only five children; however, four of them were prosecuted for these crimes. The leader of the group managed to escape from justice once again when she presented a very convincing alibi. She stated she wasn't in town when the murders took place. She was exonerated, and now she’s happily guiding her increasing flock of followers who simply ignore these crimes.
One of the main problems with religions and groups guided by these charismatic leaders is that they impose their ideals to their followers until convincing (and also forcing) them to obey their commands. Valentina de Andrade was never imprisoned because others made the dirty work.
There's some sort of fascination towards crime stories and their perpetrators, up to the point that there's a museum that exhibits the impact of these cases on society.