A Brazilian murder suspect and Dutch resident who police believe may have participated in “cannibal practices” was arrested at an airport in Portugal with a suitcase containing “suspicious meat” and bloodstained clothing.
Begoleã Mendes Fernandes, 26, was taken into custody at Lisbon Airport on Monday February 27, 2023, after getting off a flight from Amsterdam, where he was suspected of killing 21-year-old Alan Lopes a day earlier. Both the victim and suspect are of Brazilian descent. Fernandes was at first arrested on suspicion of travelling on falsified documents.
Portuguese media reported that pieces of meat were found inside a plastic bag packed into Fernandes’ luggage, and that the meat could be human flesh. The meat is still to be analysed in a laboratory, to determine its origin. The Portuguese Immigration and Border Services (Servico De Estrangereiros E Fronteiras or SEF) issued a statement:
“After contacting the authorities in the Netherlands, the country where he resided, it was confirmed that he was wanted on suspicion of committing a crime of murder that occurred on February 26, in Amsterdam, which led the judicial authorities of that country to issue, yesterday afternoon, a European Arrest Warrant for extradition purposes.
By indication of the Dutch authorities and the Lisbon DIAP, in addition to the documents that the suspect had in his possession, a bandage and clothes with traces of blood, a plastic package containing several pieces of meat and a mobile phone were seized, with the foreign citizen taken to the PJ’s Scientific Police Laboratory.”
Fernandes drew border officers’ attention because he had a bandage on his right hand and bloodstains on his clothing. He was scheduled to board a flight to Belo Horizonte in Brazil.
The police found the body of Lopes in his home on Vegastraat in Amsterdam at around 9:20 p.m. that Sunday after calls from his concerned friends. “It was clear that he died in a violent crime,” the police said in an initial statement. Specialists were deployed to the scene to do a forensic investigation.
The Portuguese daily newspaper Jornal de Notícias noted that
“The suspect claimed that he killed the victim because the latter forced him into cannibalistic practices.”
Lopes’ friends told Dutch daily paper Parool that they called the police after Fernandes messaged them to say that he had killed the young man. Several of Lopes’ friends received the voice notes at around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Marco Cunha (23) told Parool:
“He said that he tried to defend himself against Alan because he had pretended to be a cannibal. Other friends received the same vague message.”
The 26-year-old Fernandes, who described himself on Facebook as “2% genius, 98% crazy” made his initial court appearance in Lisbon and was placed in custody pending his extradition to the Netherlands.
Lopes was found dead Sunday night at a house in Amsterdam that he shared with his mother and sister, who were away at the time. According to Lopes’ friends, the young man was trying to help Fernandes, who worked as a delivery boy and had descended into drug-taking in recent months.
“He went crazy in a short time. He was on drugs, and it drove him crazy. His brain just stopped working.”
“Alan tried to help him. He had a big heart, even for the one who killed him,” Lopes’ mother, Antonia Lima (45), said to Parool. Her partner, Freek Posthumus (60), said that the young man was building a life in the Netherlands. “He was busy with his driver’s license and worked hard. I am convinced he had a bright future ahead of him.”
Kamila Lopes, the victim’s sister, told the news site Notícias ao Minuto that Fernandes was homeless and would stay with the family whenever he had nowhere to reside.
However, in an interview with the Portuguese television channel SIC, Fernandes’ mother, Carla Pimentel, suggested that her son may have killed Lopes in self-defence, according to the Portuguese-language news outlet RFI.
According to Pimentel, Fernandes was having dinner with the victim when Lopes offered him human flesh, and also showed him videos about cannibalism. The 21-year-old then allegedly tried to kill Fernandes.
The mom claimed that the meat found in her son’s possession in Lisbon was the same that was offered to him by Lopes, and that her son had kept it as evidence that he planned to hand to the authorities. Some reports are claiming that forensics have shown the meat is not from the body of the victim, Lopes, suggesting that the claims about cannibalism of a third person may be accurate.
Fernandes is expected to be extradited to the Netherlands sometime “this week” (i.e. week commencing 20 March). In the meantime, he has been locked in a jail cell in Lisbon airport for 22 hours every day for his own safety. According to tabloid Correio da Manhã, due to the media frenzy, he is now known as “the cannibal”, and authorities hope to “contain any untoward reactions with other inmates”.