By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The normally quiet neighborhood of Barra Grande, just outside of historic Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro State, was the scene of a brutal murder as the body of expatriate French artist, Cédric Alexandre Vacherie, was discovered on Friday, July 13th. Vacherie had been shot in the head and his house had been set on fire.
His body was discovered by two bricklayers who had been working at the French artist’s house. When they arrived for work, they made the shocking discovery.
“I’ve never seen a dead person shot. It was a big scare,” one of the bricklayers exclaimed to local media. “We ran out of there and called the police.”
The 33-year old Vacherie had been living in Paraty for over a year and worked as a photographer, as well as a plastic and performance artist.
“He was a quiet, reserved fellow. He spoke very little. Here he was known as the ‘gringo’,” said one of his neighbors to Globo news.
Police are still searching for clues and witnesses to the crime, but friends of the artist have speculated to local media that Vacherie’s murder was the result of him being an expatriate, gay, and a practitioner of Candomblé, an Afro-American religion that originated in Salvador, Bahia.
“I believe he was executed because of these issues,” explained one of Vacherie’s friends who chose to remain anonymous. “Because he is gay, Candomblé, and a foreign artist.”
Like many cities throughout Brazil, Paraty has seen a surge in crime rates in recent years. According to the Public Security Institute (ISP), in 2017, 31 people were killed as the result of violent crime in Paraty.
In 2016, the region registered 34 people murdered, which was the most ever since the ISP began tracking that figure in 2003. Through May of this year, there have been fifteen murders in Paraty.