Killers of American Nun Confess

BELÉM, Brazil: This Friday in Belém a trial began against Rayfran das Neves Sales (“Fogoió”) and Clodoaldo Carlos Batista (“Eduardo”), accused in the death of the missionary Dorothy Stang, after the two admitted to Judge Cláudio Montalvão that they were hired to commit the murder, and began planning it in December, 2004 in Anapu, Pará, more than two months before carrying it out.

Rayfran confessed to having been the shooter and told of how he had the initial contact with farmer Vitalmiro Bastos (“Bida”) in December of 2004. At the meeting, Bida asked if Rayfran would kill the missionary and Rayfran agreed to it. The shooter [Rayfran] said that Clodoaldo warned him that the scheme wouldn’t work, but that the two were finally persuaded by Amair Feijoli (“Tato”), who had given them the gun.

The prosecution has named Tato as an accessory to the crime because, according Rayfran’s version, he was the one who ordered the murder. The shooter said that, on the eve of the crime, Tato had a disagreement with Sister Dorothy and decided that her destiny was to be killed.

“He said that if we killed the Sister nothing would happen to us, because the police would not follow up. In five days it was all over,” cried Rayfran.

Rayfran minimized Bida’s [the farmer’s] participation as the head mean, and tried to prove Clodoaldo innocent, who according to him didn’t want to shoot the missionary. But, Rayfran admitted that the two had hidden at Bida’s farm after the crime. Rayfran excused his attorney, Eduardo Imbiriba, saying he had no money to pay for his services, and is now being represented by Public Defender Marilda Cantal. The two arrived a few minutes before the trial began, escorted by Military Police and using bulletproof vests. One of the witnesses also arrived under escort, covered by a hood and also using a bulletproof vest. She is in the witness protection program.

Rayfran told the judge that he had spoken with the missionary. According to him, Sister Dorothy had put her hand inside her purse and said: “The only weapon I have is right here.”

“I thought it was a gun. I shot once, and then I didn’t see anything else and emptied my gun into her,” he said.


At this point the stories given by Rayfran and Clodoaldo contradict. Clodoaldo was questioned by the judge immediately after Rayfran. Clodoaldo says that the missionary [Sister Dorothy] read a passage from the Bible before being killed. Clodoaldo asserted that he tried to convince Rayfran to give up on the murder.

“Let’s not end our lives like this,” he said to his accomplice. Clodoaldo says however, that Amair Feijoli had guaranteed to the two that Dorothy Stang’s death would not have big repercussions.

Rayfran said that after the first shot, Clodoaldo fled into the brush. The two met up afterward and went on to Bida’s farm. Rayfran denied receiving R$50,000 to kill the nun. Clodoaldo also denied receiving payment. According to him, the only amount he received was R$500 in order to flee. The money was given by the farmer Bida. Judge Cláudio Montalvão believes that deliberations before judgement will last about 25 hours.

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