Brazilian police arrest third suspect in connection with death of Lancaster woman's brother

A third suspect has been arrested in connection with the deaths of British journalist Dom Phillips whose sister is from Lancaster, and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in Brazil, federal police said.

By PA Reporters
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:30 pm

After the pair went missing almost two weeks ago, Mr Phillips' killing was confirmed after forensic tests on remains found in a remote area of the Amazon.

Other remains that were discovered are believed to belong to Mr Pereira.

Police said Jefferson da Silva Lima, known as Pelado da Dinha, has turned himself at the police station in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon.

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Dom Phillips. Photo by Getty Images.

Officers said the suspect will be referred to a custody hearing.

Two other men are already being held over alleged involvement in the killings - Amarildo Oliveira, known as Pelado, and his brother, Oseney de Oliveira, known as Dos Santos.

Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were last seen on June 5 on their boat on the Itaquai river, near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia.

On Friday, federal police said that human remains found in Brazil's remote Amazon area have been identified as belonging to 57-year-old Mr Phillips.

Additional remains found at the site near the city of Atalaia do Norte have not yet been identified but are expected to belong to Indigenous expert Mr Pereira, 41.

"The confirmation (of Phillips' remains) was made based on dental examinations and anthropological forensics," federal police said in a statement.

"Work is ongoing for a complete identification of the remains so we can determine the cause of death, and also the dynamics of the crime and the hiding of the bodies."

The remains were found on Wednesday, after fisherman Pelado allegedly confessed to killing the pair, and took police to the place where he buried the bodies.

He is said to have told officers that he used a firearm to kill both men.

The remains were taken to the capital city of Brasilia on Thursday for forensics tests to take place.

The area where Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira went missing has seen violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers, and government agents.

Earlier last week the Brazilian ambassador to the UK apologised to Mr Phillips’ family after they were incorrectly told his body had been found.

According to The Guardian, the family including Dom Phillip’s sister Sian Phillips from Lancaster, received a call from an aide to the ambassador early on Monday saying their bodies had been discovered tied to trees in the rainforest.

However, Mr Phillips’ brother-in-law, Paul Sherwood, confirmed to the PA news agency on Tuesday that ambassador Fred Arruda had written to the family to say the statement was incorrect.

Mr Arruda said: “We are deeply sorry the embassy passed on to the family yesterday information that did not prove correct. The search operation will go on, with no efforts being spared.”

He added: “Our thoughts remain with Dom, Bruno, yourselves and the other members of both families.”

The journalist's sister, Sian Phillips, made an emotional plea from her Lancaster home two weeks ago for the Brazilian government to find the two men.

"We want to carry on with the search," she said in a statement to the media during a gathering in front of the Brazilian embassy in London.