A gospel-singing Brazilian congresswoman has been accused of masterminding the “barbaric” murder of her preacher husband after at least six failed or aborted attempts to kill him with poison or in staged robberies.
Anderson do Carmo was 42 when he was shot dead in June 2019 as he returned to the home he shared with the church crooner-turned-politician Flordelis dos Santos de Souza.
The celebrity congresswoman, who congregants and fans call simply Flordelis, claimed her husband – with whom she had famously raised more than 50 children – had been slain by thieves.
But allegations of a bizarre and lurid family plot to murder the evangelical preacher emerged on Monday as police arrested five of Flordelis’ children and one granddaughter for involvement in the crime.
The 59-year-old lawmaker – who has made records for one of Brazil’s top gospel labels and was elected to congress in 2018 – could not be arrested because she enjoys parliamentary immunity.
But investigators said they had no doubt Flordelis, who reportedly wept uncontrollably as police raided her home, was the ringleader.
“The conclusion the investigation reached was this: that she planned this cowardly murder,” homicide chief Antônio Ricardo Lima Nunes told reporters as the singer’s handcuffed relatives were led away by heavily armed officers.
“The motive was that she was unhappy with the way in which pastor Anderson lived his life and handled the family finances.”
Do Carmo’s grisly murder – he was reportedly shot more than 30 times, predominantly in the groin and thighs – made nationwide headlines and has continued to do so since.
Brazilian newspapers have published a succession of sensational allegations, including that the evangelical couple frequented a swingers club in west Rio where the singer was spotted in a state of inebriation. Flordelis denied those claims and has repeatedly denied involvement in her husband’s murder.
“Let’s say we were surprised by today’s events,” her lawyer, Anderson Rollemberg, told the website UOL on Monday.
Police, however, say they are sure she was the architect of his killing.
Monday’s pre-dawn round-up was dubbed “Operation Luke 12” – a reference to the New Testament chapter in which Jesus tells his disciples: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
Local reports alleged the conspiracy began in May 2018, when scheming relatives began secretly spiking pastor Anderson’s food with arsenic. It ended just over a year later, in the early hours of 16 June 2019, when the preacher’s body was riddled with bullets at the couple’s home in Niterói, a city near Rio.
In the intervening period newspapers claimed there were at least five other failed or aborted attempts on his life, either by poisoning his food and drinks or staging robberies.
One of the congresswoman’s daughters, Simone, was found to have trawled the internet for information on “cyanide in food” but claimed that was merely out of curiosity and to help a friend whose dog had a tumour.
The O Globo newspaper reported that the pastor had actually discovered plans to murder him and threatened to bug all of the telephones in the family home, forcing the plotters to communicate with burner phones.
Flordelis was born and raised in Jacarezinho, a sprawling Rio favela, where she began her singing career and met her future husband in the early 1990s. The couple went on to found a church together – the Ministry of Flordelis – and became famous for their huge family which was made up of 55 children, the majority adopted.
Flordelis used her celebrity as a springboard into politics and was one of Rio’s most-voted federal lawmakers in 2018 with nearly 200,000 votes. “I’m going to fight for the family, for life and for women,” she vowed as she took office.
Homicide chief Nunes said Monday’s detentions – which followed the arrest of two other sons last year – meant about 20% of Flordelis’s family had allegedly been involved in the pastor’s murder.
“It was a barbaric, cowardly crime,” he told breakfast TV.
Just a week earlier Flordelis had posted a photograph to Instagram – where she has nearly one million followers – in which she appeared straddling a camel with her late husband during a trip to Israel.
“I still feel lost … part of me died with you … I feel a mixture of pain and disgust – what they did to you was so cruel,” she wrote before signing off: “I love you my Baby”.
Originally published: 2020-08-24 12:24:20