“Rafael was my son, he was my friend and my companion. We talked about everything, I ended up laughing with him and he always said he loved me”, this is how Ariceli Santos remembers her son Rafael dos Santos Silva, aged 22, who was beaten to death after being the victim of a fake news, in Suzano.
The police said that the reason for the attacks was the spread of fake news on social media that the victim had killed two dogs. A situation that, according to the police, did not happen. Six suspects were arrested this Tuesday (30).
Mother of two other boys, Ariceli talks about the special bond she had with Rafael, who went into her arms as soon as he was born from a “peaceful” birth, as she describes it, in Recife, capital of Pernambuco. The connection, unfortunately, was confirmed on December 17, 2023, when he was brutally murdered.
“I received a call from my eldest son, saying that Rafael had been beaten. He asked me to calm down and said that Rafael had been rescued by Samu. I started crying, but I already had a bad feeling from early on, feeling a tightness in my chest and I even told a friend that it was because something was happening with Rafael.”
The mother, who still lives in Recife, tried to call her son and get in touch with Suzano’s acquaintances, but it didn’t take long for the news of Rafael’s death to arrive.
“At that moment, I was desperate at home. I cried a lot and screamed ‘my life is over, my life is over’. I had no support, it was a very difficult time,” she says.
Ariceli knew that her son had gotten involved with drugs when moving to Suzano and, in addition, he was showing psychiatric problems.
He even published videos on the internet, saying that dogs were unclean beings. It was after this that rumors that he had stabbed two dogs to death emerged in the city.
The delegate from the Homicide and Personal Protection Sector (SHPP), Rubens José Ângelo said that during the investigations this fact was not confirmed.
The dogs that people say were dead were never found, also according to the police chief. Because of the false news, seven men beat Rafael to death. Six of them were arrested and the seventh suspect is being sought.
“When the body arrived in Recife, the most difficult moment came. When they uncovered the coffin, I didn’t know him, no. I screamed and said that that wasn’t my son, I even felt hope that he was still alive. He was beaten so much that I had to get close and recognize the details, like a mole he had on his stomach”, says his mother.
Ariceli also remembers the last time she was with her son in person, about three years ago, when they shared an emotional hug in a supermarket. Hugs between them weren’t rare, but she felt this one was special.
“He said ‘Mama, you know I love you, right?’. I asked him what he wanted, he said it was nothing and that he loved me very much. He hugged me and cried and I couldn’t help it and started crying too. He said I was the woman of his life. That felt like a goodbye. And it was”, he laments.
It wasn’t just his mother that Rafael was dear to. When he moved to the state of São Paulo he went directly to meet Dóris Simãozinho, to work on her family’s farm. In the job, which he remained until the last days of his life, he went from bricklayer’s assistant to bricklayer.
“He was only 22 years old, but he worked very hard, was very hardworking and talented. We never had any problems with him, we had a good relationship. My husband paid for his ticket to come to Suzano, he lived with us. I’m sure they only did this to him, because we had gone away at the weekend. We would never have let that happen”, says Dóris.
About a month before Rafael died, she says that he was actually having some “strange conversations”, which seemed to be the beginning of psychological problems. She reported this to Ariceli, who immediately told him that he should return home if he was experiencing any problems.
“But still, I don’t believe he killed a dog. In fact, they never showed me any dead dogs. I have four dogs here, I have cats, horses and other animals. He never mistreated them, he even made little houses for them”, concludes Dóris.