December 11, 2014 / 5:57 PM / 5 years ago

Alleged Brazil serial killer confesses to 42 murders in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A man arrested by police in Rio de Janeiro on suspicion of murder has confessed to killing 42 people over the past decade, making him potentially one of the country’s most prolific serial killers.

Sailson Jose das Graças, 26, who was arrested on Wednesday, told reporters at a police station in the state of Rio that he killed for pleasure and the accompanying adrenaline rush. He said he also operated as a killer for hire.

He said his preferred victims were white females, whom he strangled. Among the 42 victims, 39 are thought to be women.

The news comes just months after a security guard confessed to killing 39 people, mostly homeless people and transvestites, in the Brazilian city of Goiania.

“I would wait for an opportunity to break into the house and kill,” Das Graças told reporters, adding he would often watch his victims for months before making his move.

“When I didn’t do it I would get nervous, then I would go hunting” for other victims, he added. Police made Das Graças available for reporters to question in a give-and-take session that’s not uncommon in Brazil.

Das Graças said he would often remove the nails of his victims to avoid marks or scratches from a scuffle. He said his wife was aware of the murders.

He began a life of crime at the age of 15 snatching handbags. At 17 he allegedly killed his first victim.

Experts said Das Graças was likely a psychopath who enjoyed the media spotlight and warned that what he said should be carefully checked.

But police said they were convinced by his account and were cross referencing his confessions with past crime reports. Four crimes had already successfully been matched, they said.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Christian Plumb

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