The mid-1960s in Brazil were troubled. In 1964, Marshal Umberto Castel Brancu made a military coup, and “death squads” began raging throughout the country. These detachments of ex-policemen and military men, under the guise of fighting drug lords and criminals, mercilessly destroyed the oppositionists, horrifying the townspeople and peasants.
One day, at the end of the summer of 1966, several high school students from the town of Niteroi, in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro, launched kites on the hill of Vintem. One of the kites flew into the thickets of the prickly bush. In search of a snake, the young men came across the bodies of two young men in cloaks, business suits and strange metal half-masks. Deciding that these are the next victims of the “death squads”, the boys rushed to their destination.
The next day, Georges da Costa Alves, the son of a policeman, heard about the terrible find, and immediately informed his father about everything. Arriving on the hill of Vintem patrol recorded that next to the unknown lie a plastic bag with several paper towels and an empty bottle from under the water. Their faces were really covered by strange metal half-masks, without slits for eyes. Both bodies lay on a litter of leaves and twigs, cut, apparently, by a machete.
In the pockets of the dead, ID cards were found in the name of M Anuel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Vianafrom the town of Campus dos Goitacazis of the State of Rio de Janeiro, as well as notebooks with incomprehensible schemes and tables of alphanumeric designations and two notes with the same with the text:
“4:30 pm. Be at the place indicated. 6:30. Swallow the capsule. After you start acting, protect your face with a metallic mask and wait for the signal. “
During the investigation it was found out that the dead worked as radio mechanics in a small workshop and were fond of paranormal phenomena, esoteric practices, searches for alien signals and observation of UFOs.
Another hobby was the creation of radio equipment for communication with the other world. The investigation showed that strange half-masks were made by handicraft in the workshop of the dead and were intended to protect, perhaps, from radiation.
After studying the notes in notebooks, mainly containing the extensive specification of various radio parts, the police decided that they had traces of some strange experience that led to the death of the experimenters.
Nevertheless, the pathoanatomical examination did not find any traces of violence or extraneous influences, except for strange bluish veins at the temples of the dead.
There were no signs of poisoning or radiation damage. Toxicological and histological analyzes yielded negative results, so a repeated detailed toxicological examination was not carried out.
Only afterwards, at the request of the relatives of the victims on August 25, 1967, the bodies were exhumed for a second examination, which again revealed no signs of violent death. However, the mention of certain “capsules” in the notes could still indicate the possibility of poisoning.
During the investigation, police interrogated Elsio Correira Gomez, who had previously participated in the experiments with the deceased. However, he categorically denied his involvement in the death of radio technicians and swore that he knew nothing about their trip to Niteroi.
A vast esoteric library was found in the radio workshop of the deceased, and in one of the books “The Scientific Medium”, pages appeared that described how to get a “bright glow of ectoplasm” (ectoplasm is a viscous substance supposedly released through the nose, ears, mouth of the medium and serving for the process of materialization of ghosts) and to protect against it with metal screens and masks.
Much later, in conversations with journalists, Sister Migela recalled that on the eve of her departure, her brother often spoke of preparing for a kind of “supernatural mission” that would make him rich and famous. The same was told by the widow and Cruz. Manuel, a few days before the trip, was very excited and was always discussing with his friend some “final tests” for “going into a different reality.” In addition, we managed to find out that the friends went on a trip, taking money with them.
Today, the original hypothesis is popular that both radio technicians were killed by linear or ball lightning. In the evening of August 17th, a severe thunderstorm in the vicinity of Niteroi accompanied by a real “lightning storm”.Local residents have long noticed that the hill of Vintem as it were “attracts lightning”, which is much more often beaten at its peak than in the surrounding hills.
Brazilian geophysicists suggest that this may be due to the veins of the iron ore forming the ore nest, or to the fall of the iron-nickel meteorite, which formed a vast hollow at the top of the hill.
One can observe the discharges of ordinary lightning a thousand times and never encounter “round electricity”.With this unusual manifestation of the electrified atmosphere during life, there is approximately one person in a thousand. In this case only units can coherently and accurately describe what they see.
Almost half the time during the observation, lightning has time to pass from one to ten meters. Three-quarters of the eyewitnesses reported that the lightning moved horizontally, in every fifth case it fell down and only in every twentieth – it went up. On average, it passes a few meters per second, and it seems that its specific density is only slightly higher than that of air.
An analysis of the set of observations revealed a striking fact. It turns out that the ball lightning appears at least once for a hundred powerful strokes of conventional linear lightning. Meanwhile, tropical storms often accompany peculiar “lightning storms” when discharges follow almost continuously. However, special expeditions that observed this spectacular riot of the elements did not reveal any signs of mass emergence of “round electricity”.
Meanwhile, it was in those years in question, among UFOologists, that the idea of ball lightning as a kind of “alien probes” was especially popular. It seems that this is exactly what the ill-fated radio engineers wanted to check out.It’s hard to say what role metal masks played in their studies, but being in them during a thunderstorm was extremely dangerous.
Indirectly, the hypothesis of a meeting with ball lightning is confirmed by the testimony of a certain Grasinda di Soz, who in the evening of August 17 passed with children not far from the scene of the incident. Suddenly, her daughter Maria screamed that she “sees a companion on the mountain.” I must say that in those years the successes of Soviet cosmonautics introduced this word into the international lexicon, and all UFOs were initially taken for satellites.
Here and Grasinda saw on the hill Vintem a glowing yellow-orange ball, which slowly disappeared behind a bush.Returning home, Madame de Souza told her husband everything, which immediately went to the hill and even climbed to its top. However, there he found nothing, except for the sharp odor of ozone, which happens after a close lightning discharge. Subsequently, the journalists found several more people, who at the same time saw a flicker of light on the slopes of the hill of Vintem.
One of the mysteries of the “case of lead masks” is a handkerchief with the initials AMS, squeezed in the hand da Cruz, and a torn off button on a dandy Viana’s jacket.
The version about unknown accomplices in the experiment is confirmed by the testimony of local residents who saw the jeep approaching the foot of the Vintem hill. The radio engineers got out of the car and began to climb the hillside, and the driver of the jeep muffled the engine and remained below.
The appearance in this story of strangers led the police to a criminal version. According to it, the attackers took advantage of the esoteric enthusiasm of radio technicians and invited them to take part in the “parapsychological experiment”. At the same time, a story was told of fireballs periodically arising at the top of a hill, and capsules were suggested, which should be taken to enhance the “extrasensory perception”. So yes Cruz and Viana drank poison, and their poisoners stole money.
Despite the simplicity and rationality of this police version, many independent experts reject it, including the famous UFO researcher Jean Valle. They believe that such explanations are advantageous, first of all, by the policeman himself, who appropriated the money of the radio mechanics.
Meanwhile, Brazilian journalists found in the police archives information about a very similar case. In 1962 on the nearby hill Cruzeiro was found the lifeless tele-master from Rio de Janeiro Hermes Juarez. In his stiffened hand was clamped a metal mask, reminiscent of those that were on the faces of da Cruz and Viana.
The cause of his death, too, was not clear, although someone saw that, before heading to the top of the hill, the telematster swallowed some “tablets”. Based on this, the police closed the case as suicide. Curiously, Juarez spent all his free time looking for funds for organizing a “radio bridge with the other world.”
The investigation into the Vitem Tragedy case was terminated in 1969 “for lack of corpus delicti”. At the moment, the masks that were worn on the dead are stored in the police museum in Rio de Janeiro.