Pedro Rodrigues Filho is a Brazilian serial killer, a self-described vigilante who was convicted of 17 murders and sentenced to 128 years in prison, although he later went on to kill more while in prison, making his number of victims anywhere from 71 to 100. He’s one of Brazil’s most notorious murderers, who, for the first time, I know it’s weird to say, but he’s really good at it. Not to compliment him or his intentions in any way – he is still taking a life away. But his motivations are strictly to murder “bad people.” Those bad people, according to him, are people who had wronged him or his family, who have hurt women and children, and any man who tried to kill him.
The question is, does Pedro think he’s a bad person? Or is this mere justification to satisfy his pleasure in killing? Whatever it is, it all might’ve started before he was even born. His father, Pedro Rodrigues Sr., would often beat Pedrinho’s mother while she was pregnant with him. The beatings were so severe that he was born with an injured skull.
Pedro Rodrigues Filho, who we will call by his nickname, Pedrinho, was born on June 17th, 1954, in Santa Rita do Sapucai, which is in the southeastern part of Brazil.
There isn’t really anything said about Pedrinho’s childhood and family except for his interviews after he was captured. He did say he lived in poverty all his life and mentioned having to kill monkeys to make shirt collars and fishing to feed his starving family. According to him, he had his first urge to kill when he was 13 years old when he physically attacked his older cousin. His cousin had punched him in the eye while they were playing at an old sugar cane mill. Pedrinho quietly swore revenge and waited for the perfect moment to push his cousin through the sugar cane press as hard as he could. He wanted his whole body to go through the press but only his arm got caught up to his shoulder and stayed there until family members came to rescue the boy. Pedrinho ran but got caught but didn’t spend more than two nights in jail. Pedrinho laughed when he told that anecdote years later.
Now that he had that taste of “justice,” he was ready to really murder someone. He got that chance at age 14, when he murdered the deputy mayor of a neighboring town of Alfenas. His reason was that Pedrinho’s father had been unjustly fired by that man from his job as a night guard because he had been accused of stealing food from the school kitchen. Although he had stolen a Nescau, a chocolate bar, the day guard was stealing a lot more food. So his father took a gun and waited at the door of the deputy mayor’s house. When he arrived, he shot him twice and walked away. A month later, he would do the exact same thing to the day guard.
Soon after, he ran away to São Paulo in the town of Mogi das Cruzes, where Neymar is from. Unimportant fact right there for you (Note: Juan didn’t know who he, was so I should say Neymar is a famous Brazilian soccer player).
The stories during this time period for Pedrinho are sketchy, but we do know he definitely met a woman named Botinha, who was the widow of a well known drug trafficker. Pedrinho continued her deceased husband’s business by trafficking and drug dealing which included murdering all his rivals à la Godfather. He didn’t enjoy trafficking and immediately stopped when Botinha was executed by police during a drug transaction.
He then met Maria Aparecida Olympia and moved in with her while continuing to burglarize drug dealer’s homes. But the inevitable happened when Maria was shot and killed by drug dealers from Jacarei. Pedrinho felt he had to seek revenge.
He went to Jacarei to the drug dealer’s brother’s wedding with two other people. He told them they were going to murder the drug dealer and to make sure every man in the wedding gets a bullet, but no women or children. They ended up killing seven people and wounding sixteen. He wasn’t even 18 years old yet and he had murdered ten people.
Pedrinho was finally arrested for murder on May 24th, 1973. The police put him in the back of the police truck with another criminal, a rapist, not realizing who they were really dealing with. Within minutes Pedrinho had already killed him. We’re not sure how accurate this story is, along with so many others. It seems that local people like adding color to their criminals. That’s how a man becomes a legend and is regarded as a bad ass motherfucker. I have a very good example of one told by Pedrinho himself in an interview with Marcelo Rezende.
One night, a prison guard came up to him and delivered bad news. His mother was killed by his father. She had been stabbed twenty one times with a machete. Pedrinho was devastated and soon got permission to see her body at the morgue. It was there where he swore revenge over her punctured body. Lucky for him, his father had be incarcerated in the same prison as his son!
Pedrinho’s account of how he murdered his father is a little nebulous. He said he took a guard’s gun, locked the guard in his cell, walked up to his dad’s cell block, took out a knife and stabbed him twenty two times. The number of stabbings were very specific because his father had stabbed his mother twenty one times. And if that weren’t enough, he cut out a piece of his heart, took a bite out of it, chewed it a couple of times and then spit it out and threw the rest to the floor. He even mimed the action while being interviewed about it.
Pedrinho continued to murder while in prison because as he said before, they were “bad” and “outlaws” who deserved to die. He targeted rapists, pedophiles, child murderers, anyone he deemed to be “bad”. He got so popular while in prison that people would send letters to ask him to murder someone who raped or killed their loved ones and he would go on and do it! The justice system had been broken in Brazil for quite some time, so people were taking matters into their own hands.
That still does not justify the killing because that gives Pedrinho the power of judgment over someone’s life. Also, many of the men he killed in prison hadn’t even been convicted yet, and some of them were still awaiting trial! The criminal justice system is another even bigger problem than a serial killer who’s been called the Brazilian Dexter. Brazilian prisons are overcrowded, underfunded, and corrupt.
The capacity for a prison like Pedrinho’s stays the same while new prisoners come in. The New York Times reported that in Brazil there are 3000 new inmates per month. Guards let the prisoners do whatever they want since they are incredibly outnumbered and could get killed. They hand the keys to the inmates and just secure the outside. There are usually dozens of prisoners in small cells where they don’t even have enough room to lay down in conditions that are deplorable and unsanitary. A way to stay safe is to join a gang who will provide protection and even money for an attorney. It’s easy to smuggle weapons, cell phones, drugs, and basically anything to continue drug trafficking from the inside. It doesn’t make a difference whether they are in or out.
Stories differ on if Pedrinho was directly involved with gangs or whether he was respected or hated. He did say he had a hard time making friends in prison and recounted the time he was attacked by five prisoners at once and was forced to kill three of them. And there was the time he killed his cellmate because he snored too loudly.
Remember, these stories from cellmates, guards or even himself, are still to be taken with a grain of salt. Many serial killers are known to exaggerate their murders for the sake of looking more menacing and evil. Not to mention the amount of tattoos on Pedrinho, there’s more tattoo than skin. On one of his arms there’s even a tattoo that says “Mato Por Prazer,” which means “I kill for pleasure” in Portuguese.
He stayed incarcerated for 34 years, from 1973 until April 24th, 2007. He was released under a Brazilian law that states that no one can be incarcerated for more than 30 years. An old law from 1940, where the average age expectancy was 45 years old. But he served an extra four years for his murders in prison.
It really sounds crazy to release a well known psychopathic serial killer, but they had to adhere to the law. As backwards as it sounds, many other countries have the same prison term limits. Like Pedro Lopez, the Colombian child killer who murdered around 300 young girls all around South America. He was finally captured in Ecuador and served 14 years in prison because of their prison limit law of 16 years. He got out two years early for good behavior. They then handed him over to Colombian authorities where they kept him in a psychiatric institution and released just three years later. And now know one knows where he is.
Pedrinho lived for three years outside of prison and worked as a housekeeper and caretaker in Camborui, in Santa Catarina, which is south of São Paulo. But on September 15th, 2011, he was arrested by police on charges of causing six riots and false imprisonment many years ago when he was in prison.
He told reporters that he had been living a quiet life in Camboriu, working hard and being well liked by the neighborhood. His neighbors did say he was a nice and gentle man who didn’t bother anyone and felt he did his time for his crimes and should be left alone. No one had a bad thing to say about him.
He also did admit that crime did not pay. If it weren’t for his criminal life, he would’ve tried to be someone in life. But he also justifies his actions by saying he never killed the wrong person. The reasons why he survived in prison for 34 years was because he would kill the outlaws. That and always having a knife on him to defend himself. Even he has mentioned himself how surprised he is that he is still alive.
And maybe he is a tired old man who doesn’t feel the need for revenge killing anymore. He already lost his mother, girlfriend and a wife, not mention his father (even if he did kill him himself). Today he is 64 years old: a man who was born with a fractured skull, grew up in an abusive household, and had no issue with robbing and murdering gangsters and drug dealers. He wouldn’t prey on women or children and, in fact, loathed the men who did.
What he did was terrible – all of the crimes he committed were absolutely horrendous. However, he does get a lot of support from people because he’s like The Punisher to them. Or Batman. Although, Batman does not kill people, but he does hunt them down now that his parents died tragically in his youth. Pedrinho is not the Batman. He is a criminal and a murderer who is almost certainly a psychopath.
He gave himself the power of deciding life or death, which no man should do. Of course, living in that kind of environment where there is practically no policing and no laws being upheld, where you always have to watch your back, a man like Pedrinho would absolutely act out in the best way he could. He did mention that many times he killed to defend his life.
To this day, Pedrinho continues to serve in prison and could possibly be released in 2019.