Actor and drag queen burned alive in demonic ritual as body found in woods

An actor and drag queen murdered earlier this year was burnt alive in a "demonic ritual" before his body was found in the woods, say prosecutors in Brazil.

Yago Henrique Franca's charred remains were found in Itapecerica da Serra on March 7, having been last been seen alive on February 27 after attending a religious service in Sao Paulo, according to local media.

In a document seen by local media, Sao Paulo State prosecutor Joao Augusto de Sanctis Garcia told how religious objects were found placed around his body in a "demonic ritual".

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Suspect Jose Henrique Silva Santos, also a drag queen, has allegedly admitted to the police that he paid a hitman £1,600 to kill Yago, 29, and dispose of his body.

The 30-year-old – whose stage name is Lunna Black – reportedly told the police that the motive was a debt of at least £6,400 that he owed the victim for their artistic work together.

He was arrested, along with hairdresser Robson Pereira Felipe, 33, and his boyfriend, 33-year-old Lucas Santos de Souza, for their alleged involvement in the crime.

De Souza is described in reports as a "pai de santo" – a Candomble priest.

Candomble is an Afro-Brazilian religion influenced by Catholicism but with roots in animism, ancestor worship, and polytheism.

Investigators reportedly heard voice messages in which Santos spoke to De Souza about how they would pay the hitman.

According to the investigation, Santos, the hairdresser, and the priest were caught on CCTV putting an apparently drugged Yago inside a car on the day he went missing.

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Afterwards, the hitman – who is still at large – allegedly burnt him alive.

The autopsy report from the Institute of Forensic Medicine said that Yago's respiratory tract was found filled with soot.

A passage from the document states: "The victim was alive when his body was burnt, and he died due to suffocation before the almost complete carbonisation of his body."

Yago was an actor, drag queen, and tarot card reader. He had met Santos at a drag queen preparation course in Sao Paulo in 2016.

The victim – an only child – lived with his parents in Sao Bernardo do Campo.

He had become friends with Santos – who lived in Sao Paulo – during the course, and the pair had ended up launching a collective to bring drag shows to Sao Paulo's impoverished outskirts.

The duo had performed together at cultural centres and events until 2019.

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