After going missing on Sunday, June 5, British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira’s families urged authorities to respond urgently. Today, police were able to conclude their search after suspect, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira recounted in detail the crime taken out and told officials where they would find the bodies.
The two men were said to have gone to a remote rainforest area while researching a book. However, Indigenous rights groups said they left for their trek after receiving threats days before they vanished; Phillips was 57 and Piera 41. Two days after the men went missing, Phillips’ family called it uncharacteristic, considering both men had established knowledge of the region. Their families’ concerns grew grave when multiple Indigenous rights groups claimed that the two men received threats days before vanishing Sunday morning. They pleaded with authorities to properly search for their loved ones.
Another two days followed, and Brazil faced significant scrutiny as the two men remained missing. Rescue efforts picked up after the pair had been missing for nearly a week. After reaching dead-end after dead-end and finding no trace of the men or their boat, the lead investigator said his team was “pursuing all lines of inquiry.”
Phillips and Pereira traveled to a remote part of the rainforest that is rife with illegal poaching, mining, and logging to highlight the threat of deforestation and environmental crime in the region.
After gaining assistance from local officials, the army, the Navy, and their secret weapon, indigenous communities who had been searching since the men initially disappeared. An Indigenous community-led authorities to some of the men’s belongings they had found in the water.
As officials connected the location of the pair’s belongings and where they were last seen, they noted violent conflicts involving fishermen, poachers, and even government agents. They connected the da Costa de Olivera brothers after hearing from an Indigenous community with Pereira and Phillips that Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira brandished a rifle at them on the day before the two men disappeared. Following the purchase of the rifle, the Costa brothers met on the Itacoai river just moments after Phillips and Pereira passed by on June 5, headed toward the riverside town of Atalaia do Norte.
Police arrested Amarildo on weapon charges last week, where detectives allegedly beat him into a confession. The second suspect arrested following Amarildo, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, claimed to have visited his brother last Friday after being arrested. He told AP that local police tortured his brother to get a confession. Oseney continues to cling to his and his brother’s innocence.
However, as one story unfolds, the actual narrative begins to emerge. Oseney was arrested Tuesday, June 14, as a suspect connected to the men’s disappearance. After a ten-day search, Detective Fontes told journalists the first suspect, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, had “recounted in detail the crime that was committed and indicated where he buried the bodies.” Police said they expect to carry out further arrests, adding that the motive for the killings was under investigation.
There was a lot of commending when it came to the joining efforts by local authorities, the Navy, and the army; however, no mention of the Indigenous community’s assistance in the efforts was made by any leading officer. After patting themselves on the back for their hard work, BBC asked why there was no mention of the Indigenous community. They admitted it was an ‘error’ and conceded that their support in working with the armed forces was crucial.
Phillips’ family expressed gratitude to everyone who had searched for their loved one, “We are heartbroken at the confirmation that Dom and Bruno were murdered. We are grateful to all those who have participated in the search, especially the indigenous groups who worked tirelessly to find evidence of the attack.” They said they were saddened to hear about their fate. Still, They said, “now we can say goodbye with love.”
Phillips’ wife concluded her statement by assuring all that she was “on a quest for justice.”