Weapon under question in death of Brazil soap star

Police examination reveals that popular TV actress Daniela Perez was stabbed with a dagger-like weapon, contradicting her co-star’s confession that he killed her with scissors, authorities said.

The public hangs on each revelation of the murder investigation, with speculation rampant about whether 22-year-old Perez was killed in a fit of jealous rage or perhaps a satanic ritual.

Guilherme de Padua, Perez’s boyfriend in the top-rated soap “Body and Soul,” told police he killed her Dec. 28 with scissors during an argument. He was arrested and confessed the next day, police said.

But Raphael Pardellas, director of the police morgue that examined the body, says 12 of the 16 stab wounds were made with a double-edged blade.

“Scissors have only one sharp edge, and the wounds were caused by an instrument with sharp edges on both sides,” Pardellas said, Jornal do Brasil reported yesterday.

It was not clear if the other four stab wounds were made by the same weapon, Pardellas said.

Police said Padua’s wife, Paula de Almeida Thomaz, told them she took part in the killing, using a screwdriver. Thomaz, who is under arrest, has denied making such a statement.

Police lab experts yesterday examined a pair of scissors and the shards of a broken plaster statue of a voodoo-type deity they believe could be linked to the killing.

But a police chief said the conflicting information about the murder weapon does not raise doubts about Padua’s guilt.

“We’re absolutely sure he did it,” police chief Mauro Magalhaes of Rio’s 16th precinct told the Rio daily O Dia.

Police have received appeals for vengeance from Brazilians angered by the slaying of their soap opera star.

“I’ve received telegrams from people saying, ‘Torture, kill, cut him in pieces,”‘ Magalhaes said.

On Monday, protesters gathered outside the 16th precinct station in Rio’s fashionable Barra da Tijuca beach district, where Padua is jailed. Some held signs reading, “Guilherme: devil in human form.”

There has been widespread speculation Perez was killed as part of a black magic ritual.

Padua and Thomaz reportedly were devotees of a spirit entity known as “Pai Chico”– Portuguese for “Father Chico.” Spirit worship is common in this mixed-race nation, where the influence of African-based religions mixed with European witchcraft is strong.

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