Man confesses to killing 24 boys


Prosecutors said today that Franciso das Chagas made his latest confession yesterday after four days of intense police questioning.

If the confessions prove true, they would spell the end to the mystery of who was killing and castrating boys in northeastern Maranhao state at a rate of about three per year since 1991.

Marques said, however, the confessions were remarkable for the richness of detail and could only have come from someone who was at the crime scene or who had a morbid fascination with the crimes and had extensively investigated them.

Chagas was arrested on Saturday after police uncovered the remains of two young boys buried beneath the dirt floor of his shack on the poor outskirts of Sao Luiz.

One of the bodies belonged to 4-year-old boy who was identified by scraps of clothing he was wearing when he disappeared in February 2003. Police were uncertain about the identity of the second corpse.

After initially denying everything, Chagas, over the weekend, confessed to killing 20 boys between 1991 and last year. Since Monday he confessed to four more killings.