Sao Paulo police identify ‘rainbow maniac" suspect

Posted on 16 Dec 2008 at 3:11pm

Retired police officer suspected of killing 13 gay men

SAO PAULO, Brazil — A retired police officer has been detained in connection with the murders of 13 gay men in a low-income suburb of Sao Paulo, police said Thursday, Dec. 11.

Retired state police Sgt. Jairo Francisco Franco was taken into custody Wednesday night, Dec. 10, after a witness identified him as the killer of a homosexual man on Aug. 19, said police inspector Paulo Fortunato.

Franco is suspected of acting alone in all of 13 killings between February 2007 and August 2008 at Paturis Park, a favorite meeting point for gay men, Fortunato said.

The suspect, who worked as a private security guard in a supermarket, has denied the charges, Fortunato said. He added that Franco did not yet have a lawyer.

"We have a credible witness who says he saw Franco pump 12 bullets into a black gay man inside the park," Fortunato said in a telephone interview.

A second witness said Franco visited the park frequently, "apparently cruising for gay men and victims," Fortunato said.

Police have dubbed the killer of the 13 men as the "rainbow maniac," a reference to the gay Pride symbol.

"We are convinced he is the rainbow maniac we have been looking for," Fortunato said.

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