By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During a press conference held on Thursday, February 28th, Rio police announced that a contractor for the U.S. Department of State, Victoria Tcaciuc, had been strangled to death in a Centro, Rio hotel room on February, 20th and that alleged suspect, Alessandro Rufino Oliveira Carvalho, 42, was in custody.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Department of State contractor Victoria Tcaciuc. We express our deepest condolences to her friends,” William Ostick, a spokesman with the State Department in Washington, said in an email to the press.
Tcaciuc was reportedly vacationing for the first time in Brazil and had plans to visit four other Brazilian cities before returning home on March 4th. The 38-year-old contractor was staying in a hotel in Copacabana during her time in Rio.
Alessandro Rufino Oliveira Carvalho, a former firefighter, told police that he met the victim at crafts fair held in Copacabana. He stated that the two then went to a bar where the victim became intoxicated.
According to Carvalho, the two then preceded to a hotel in Centro, Rio where Tcaciuc, Carvalho says, “wanted to smoke a cigarette, watch television and stay there.” Her body was found by a hotel employee later that day.
The suspect maintained his innocence, saying the victim was alive when he left the hotel. “Then I walked away. There was no sexual relationship,” said Carvalho.
However, during informal conversations with police, the suspect reportedly said Tcaciuc had denied his sexual advances.
“We suspect that he killed her because she refused to have sex with him,” Rivaldo Barbosa, head of the Rio police homicide division, said.
Police were able to identify Carvalho from the hotel’s surveillance video which showed the two entering the hotel together at 1:24 on the morning of February 20th and Carvalho exiting alone at 2:55 AM. The suspect then reportedly traveled to São Paulo to visit a relative.
Carvalho was arrested on a bus returning to Rio from São Paulo, early Thursday morning and faces murder and robbery charges with sentencing that can vary to between 40 and 50 years.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.