In the wake of Charles Manson’s death there has been a lot of talk about cults, cult leaders, and their followers. Unlike cult leaders that kill their followers (or convince them to suicide), Mason was a bit of an outlier. Instead, Manson encouraged his followers to kill others in order to sate his fantasies of revenge. And, the way in which Manson did this was diabolically clever because – as it’s been recounted – Manson never actually murdered a person himself. Despite this “failsafe,” Manson was convicted of first degree murder for directing the killings.
But what if such a person existed and – because they hadn’t raised a finger themselves – they were NOT convicted, but set free?
This person does exist, and her name is Valentina de Andrade.
Valentina de Andrade began her meteoric rise to infamy in a small Amazonian town in 1981. It was that year that she began receiving “messages.” It began small enough…just impressing neighbors with her fortune-telling talents and minor displays of “clairvoyance.” But soon the messages began taking on a darker tone…
Valentina began preaching to anyone that would listen that the world was going to end soon. So, she began a church, of sorts, called the Superior Universal Alignment. Her mission was to inform those who would listen that God did not exist, Jesus was an extraterrestrial, and she was an entity of “light, love and truth” sent to educate the masses. One tenet that was central to her teachings was that all children born after 1981 were reincarnations of evil. This meant that any of Valentina’s followers who had children born on January 1st, 1982 or later were supposed to abandon them in order to gain salvation (which was to leave earth on a spaceship before the end of days.
However, when Valentina’s first date for the rapture came and went with nary a peep, her followers began to grow concerned. So, naturally, Valentina upped the stakes. She accused her followers of not proving their loyalty, and of not believing strongly enough! She told them that if they were to unequivocally demonstrate their adherence to her teachings that the ship would finally come.
That’s when the children began disappearing.
In all, 19 children went missing and 5 dead bodies were found between 1989 and 1993. The children were all males between the ages of 8 and 13. Each had been tortured, raped and then stabbed to death. Additionally, the bodies had been mutilated with their genitals and some vital organs removed. The public panicked at the discoveries and the police struggled to pinpoint who might do such a thing!
Luckily, 9-year-old Wandiclei Pinheiro escaped his captors and went straight to the authorities. He was able to identify his captors, including Valentina. Four of the men pointed out were arrested immediately, but Valentina escaped custody by fleeing the country. By 2003, five of her followers had been put on trial and convicted to life sentences behind bars. But Valentina was in the wind for eleven years.
When she was finally brought back to Brazil to stand trial – and a salacious trial it was. Valentina stood accused of the slaying of at least 19 young boys. Her teachings were brought out for everyone to hear. And, by all accounts, the public was appalled, and pushing for her to be found guilty…all except for the jury, that is.
By a vote of 6 to 1 (majority is all that is needed in Brazil), Valentina was acquitted of all charges. The swaying factor had been the doubt that her defense team raised about whether or not Valentina was in the country at the time of the murders.
I’m not sure what Valentina de Andrade is doing today. But, as of 2009, she was preaching again in Argentina, and her website is currently still up and active.*
*AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was born in 1976.