Valentina Andrade was a trusted clairvoyant in the backwater
Amazonian town of Altamira. Many in the rural riverside community trusted her
But in a horrifying twist, Andrade, 75, has been revealed as the leader of a satanic sect that killed boys to use their sexual organs in voodoo rituals.
She will be the last of five sect members to stand trial accused of luring poor boys into the jungle, where they were smothered with chloroform and dragged away to have their genitals removed.
Revelations about the terrifying events have shocked the town, and hundreds of residents have been holding a vigil outside the court in the nearby city of Belem to demand justice.
Andrade is accused of leading the Superior Universal Allignment, which has its headquarters in Argentina and many followers in neighbouring Paraguay and in Holland. A judge remanded her in custody last week to await trial later this month after she was caught trying to leave the country.
The crimes were committed more than 10 years ago. A former policeman, a businessman and a doctor have already been jailed for the murder and mutilation of young boys.
Carlos Alberto Santos, a security guard and ex-policeman, was sentenced to 35 years, Amailton Gomez, the son of an influential landowner, received 57 years, and Anisio Ferreira, a doctor, was sentenced to 77 years.
Between 1989 and 1992, 19 boys aged between 8 and 14 were abducted, one after another, in the town of Altamira. They were all from poor families.
Some were lured away as they herded cattle in the patches of cleared rainforest outside the town, and others as they picked mangoes. Some were shoe-shine boys in the town centre.
Five managed to escape their captors, but six were found dead with their sexual organs removed. Three others were mutilated but managed to survive the ordeal. Another five remain unaccounted for.
A government prosecutor said an investigation had yet to be launched into the cases of those boys whose bodies had not been found.
Families of the victims cheered and wept when Ferreira was sentenced. It emerged at his trial that the mutilation of the boys had been carried out with medical expertise, including the use of anaesthetic.
Two of the three survivors appeared as witnesses in the trials. One 24-year-old man, who was nine when he was abducted, told how he was lured into the forest, tied to a tree and then smothered with chloroform.
"I will have to live with the terrible injuries they inflicted on me. But I am glad that at least those who did it are at last behind bars," he said.