Lead Masks Case

The Lead Masks Case was the name given to the events which led to the death of two Brazilian electronic technicians: Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana. Their bodies were discovered on August 20, 1966.

Sequence of Facts


A boy named Jorge da Costa Alves (who was 18 at that time) was flying a kite at the Morro do Vintém (Vintém Hill), in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when he found two dead men. Immediately, he made his way back home and called the police. Soon the spot was full of police officers, firefighters and journalists.

The bodies were next to each other, slightly covered by grass. They were wearing suits, lead masks and water-proof coats. There was no sign of violence to the bodies or to the surrounding area. Next to the bodies, the police found an empty bottle of water and a packet containing two towels. The masks were a type typically used for protection from radiation, and it is these masks that have given the case its name. Police found a small notebook stating: “16:30 estar no local determinado. 18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal máscara”, which translates to “16:30 be at the agreed place. 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for sign mask [or ‘mask sign’]”.

Conclusion of the Case

No obvious injuries were discovered at autopsy; however, a search for toxic substances was impossible as the internal organs of the two victims were not properly preserved.

The case was mentioned prominently (among other Brazilian cases) in Jacques Vallée’s book Confrontations.


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