Decapitated body of British girl, 17, found hacked to pieces in suitcase in Brazil

By Charlotte Gill and Gerard Couzens
Last updated at 8:27 PM on 31st July 2008

The dismembered body of a 17-year-old British girl has been found in a suitcase in Brazil.

Police say Cara Marie Burke was murdered by an ex-boyfriend she had threatened to expose as a drug-dealer.

Her torso was found in a suitcase dumped on a riverbank on Monday but her head, arms and legs were missing after having been thrown into the water.

Cara Marie Burke
Mohamed D'Ali Carvalho dos Santos, confessed to murdering Brit Cara Marie Burke

Cara Burke arrived in Brazil three months ago on a tourist visa. Ex-boyfriend Mohammed Carvalho dos Santos is said to have confessed to her killing

It is believed the teenager was identified the following day when a friend living in London recognised two of Cara’s tattoos on gruesome images broadcast by a Brazilian television channel which is transmitted in the UK.

Brazilian police arrested her former boyfriend Mohammed Carvalho dos Santos, 20, on suspicion of murder yesterday.

He was born in Brazil, but police said his parents live in the UK, and that he had met Cara in Britain.

They say he quickly confessed to having murdered and mutilated her.

And he had taken pictures of her mutilated body on his mobile phone.

Her body was found in the city of Goiania in the state of Goias, 120 miles south west of Brasilia. Officers are still searching for her other body parts.


The 17-year-old’s dismembered body was found in the Brazilian city of Goiania

Cara, from South London, is believed to have gone to Brazil with Carvalho three months ago.They had shared a flat in Goiania for three months.

According to Brazilian friends, Cara loved Brazil and had been to the country twice before.

Lenita Alves de Brito, spokesman for Goiania’s Policia Civil which is investigating the horrific killing, said the couple had recently split because she believed he was a drug-dealer.

She had moved in with friends, but for some reason she went back to the flat at the weekend.

They had had an argument on Friday night. She threatened to tell his parents he was a drug dealer addicted to cocaine, and said she was considering turning him in to police.

On the Saturday he stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife in what police say was a ‘premeditated’ murder. Then he dumped her body in a bath and went off to a party.

The following day he decapitated her and chopped off her limbs, and put her torso in a suitcase.

He dumped the suitcase by a river and threw her legs and arms into the water.

Mrs Alves said: ‘I can confirm that we arrested Mohammed Dali Carvalho dos Santos near the murder scene.

‘I cannot tell you exactly where but it was in a hiding place he had fled to after the murder.

‘He has already confessed to murdering Cara and decapitating her body.

‘He has yet to show any remorse for what he has done. He has not cried or expressed regret of any kind.

‘He has told us that he and Cara argued after she threatened to go to the police to accuse him of being a drugs trafficker.

‘He has told us he murdered her on Saturday night, left her body in the bath and went to a party on Saturday night before decapitating her the following day.

‘The murder was premeditated. He turned the music up on the stereo before the crime so neighbours wouldn’t hear her screaming.

‘The murder took place at a flat in Goiania near the university which they used to share until they stopped dating some time before the killing after Cara ended the relationship.

‘Cara was living with friends at the time she was murdered and Mohammed was still at the flat.

‘He killed her with a single stab wound to the ribs, using a kitchen knife which we have recovered and are currently examining for forensic evidence.

‘Part of the evidence that will be used against him in the forthcoming court case will be pictures we found on his mobile phone that he took of Cara after he had cut up her body.

‘He put part of her body in a suitcase which he dumped by a river on the outskirts of the city.

‘We’re still searching for her arms and legs but we believe he threw them into the river.’

She added: ‘We will be handing Mohammed over to the Brazilian judiciary in the next few hours.

‘It will up to them to fix a trial date but I imagine it will take place quickly and in a maximum of 30 days.

‘Our understanding is that Cara’s mother is flying to Brazil. We are currently searching the flat where the murder took place.

‘We have found drugs but I am not in a position to say how many drugs have been found or what type of drugs they are.

‘Cara’s body is currently at the Coroner’s Office in Goiania.’

It is understood her mother Anna Marie was able to identify her daughter’s body because of a distinctive tattoo.

The Foreign Office said in a statement: ‘We can confirm the death of a British national in Goiania in Brazil. The body was discovered early on Tuesday.

‘Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance to the family.’

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