A suspect has confessed to fatally shooting Britain’s British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in a remote part of the Amazon and taking officers to where the bodies were buried, Brazil’s federal police said.
Police said at a news conference in Manaus that the prime suspect in the case has confessed and detailed what happened to the couple who went missing on June 5.
The federal investigator, Eduardo Alexandre Fontes, said Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, nicknamed Pelado, told officers he used a firearm to kill the two men.
“We wouldn’t be able to get to that spot quickly without the confession,” Mr. Fontes said of the site where police found human remains on Wednesday after being led there by Mr. Pelado.
The investigator said the remains are expected to be identified within days, and if confirmed as the missing men, “they will be returned to the families of the two”.
“We found the bodies two miles into the woods,” he said, adding that rescue teams traveled across the river for about an hour and 40 minutes and another 25 into the woods to reach the cemetery.
Mr. Pelado’s family had previously said he denied any wrongdoing and alleged that police tortured him to get a confession.
Another officer, Guilherme Torres of Amazonas State Police, said the missing man’s boat had not yet been found, but police knew of the area where it was allegedly hidden by those involved in the crime.
“They put bags of dirt on the boat so it would sink,” he said.
As federal police announced they would hold a press conference, Pereira’s colleagues called a vigil outside the headquarters of the Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Office in Brasilia.
The Indigenous expert was on leave from the agency when he disappeared on June 5 while traveling with Mr. Phillips, a British freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper.
Phillips’ wife, Alessandra Sampaio, said in a statement, “this tragic outcome puts an end to the fear of not knowing where Dom and Bruno are “.
“Now we can bring them home and say goodbye with love,” she said.
“Today, we also begin our quest for justice. I hope the investigations will exhaust all possibilities and provide definitive answers to all relevant details as soon as possible.”
Mr. Pereira, 41, and Mr. Phillips, 57, were last seen on their boat in a river at the entrance to the indigenous area of the Javari Valley, which borders Peru and Colombia. Violent clashes have occurred between fishermen, poachers, and government officials.
Developments began on Wednesday when federal police officers took a suspect they did not identify at the time on the river to search teams searching for the missing men.
Police said Tuesday they had arrested a second suspect concerning the disappearance. He was identified as Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, 41, a fisherman and brother of Mr. Pelado, who had already been identified as their prime suspect by police.
Indigenous people with Pereira and Phillips said da Costa de Oliveira waved a rifle at them the day before the two men disappeared.