Prosecutors charged a Brazilian congresswoman, Evangelical pastor and Gospel singer Monday with ordering her children to murder her husband, a fellow pastor, last year in a dispute over money and power.
Famous for adopting dozens of street children from Rio de Janeiro's slums, Congresswoman Flordelis dos Santos and pastor Anderson do Carmo were a power couple of Brazil's burgeoning Evangelical Christian movement until he was killed in a hail of bullets at their home in the Rio suburb of Niteroi in June 2019.
In a bombshell statement, Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors said Dos Santos, 59, had tried to poison her husband at least six times before ultimately ordering several of her more than 50 biological and adopted children to kill him.
Do Carmo, 42, was shot 30 times in the couple's garage.
"Flordelis is accused of orchestrating the homicide, enlisting (several of her grown children) to take part in the crime and attempting to disguise it as an armed robbery," prosecutors said.
Investigators said Flavio dos Santos Rodrigues, Dos Santos's biological son, fired the shots that killed his stepfather, with a gun purchased by Lucas Cesar dos Santos, one of the couple's dozens of adopted children.
Prosecutors said the suspected motive was to gain power over the couple's revenues, which Do Carmo managed with "rigorous control."
They described a vicious family feud in which Dos Santos's husband blocked her from giving "preferential treatment" to her favorite children.
In all, 11 people were charged, including Dos Santos, who cannot be arrested without Congressional authorization because she has immunity as a lawmaker.
"The investigation demonstrated that (Dos Santos's) image of altruism and decency was merely a ploy to gain wealth and political power," police commissioner Allan Duarte told TV network Globo.
The congresswoman "is very upset with everything that's happening, because she is innocent. She never ordered this savage crime," said her lawyer, cited in the Brazilian media.
Dos Santos was elected to Congress for the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD) in 2018.
Born in the Rio favela, or slum, of Jacarezinho, she met Do Carmo in 1994.
Together, they founded what they called the Community of the Evangelical Ministry Flordelis.
© 2020 AFP