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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still Want To Go On A Hot Date To Brazil?

RIO DE JANEIRO - An international online love affair didn’t lead to the altar but instead ended in a brutal murder in Brazil.

Police said this week after a six-month investigation that an American man who came to Brazil to visit the fiancee he had romanced on the internet was killed by the woman over money, according to media reports.

Musician Raymond James Mierrel was drugged and held by Regina Filomena Rachid for a week in March in an apartment in Sao Jose dos Campos in Sao Paulo state, police said. After Mierrel gave her the PIN numbers to his credit cards, Rachid strangled him with a cable and, with the help of two accomplices, burned his body in a car on an abandoned piece of land in Sao Jose, police charged.

Authorities initially buried Mierrel’s body believing him to be an unidentifiable homeless person.

Mierrel’s parents, however, reported him missing in April from California, and the Brazilian police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating his disappearance together.

It ended up being solved by chance when Rachid was arrested in June at a shopping centre in San Jose in an attempted robbery. A police search of Rachid turned up a credit card bearing Mierrel’s name.

One accomplice was then arrested, and another surrendered to authorities. Police said all three confessed to their involvement in the murder.

By then, Rachid had withdrawn about 50,000 dollars from Mierrel’s accounts, police said.

The musician had travelled to Brazil for a third time in March to spend his birthday with his fiancee.

Police said, however, that by the time of his arrival, Rachid and her accomplices had their eyes on his money and had been planning his murder for weeks. Now they face 30 years in prison if convicted of kidnapping and murder charges.

In the meantime, the body of the unknown homeless person was exhumed, and initial DNA tests determined that the body was almost certainly that of Mierrel.


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