Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

Gruesome discovery by a teenager lead to the infamous case
Gruesome discovery by a teenager lead to the infamous case

It’s 1966, Jorge da Costa Alves finds himself flying a kite one afternoon in the nearby Vintém Hill, in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As the 18 year old Jorge walks around Vintém Hill, he makes the macabre discovery of two bodies laying side by side in the tall weeds. The bodies were of two men, who appeared to be dressed identically. Both men were dressed in matching suits and wore impermeable coats. Which wasn’t out of the ordinary since the area had been drenched by recent showers. What was out of the ordinary were the protective lead masks over their faces. The type of masks used to protect against radiation poisoning. Here, laying dead in the rain-soaked vegetation of Vintém Hill are two mean in suits, a rain coat and lead masks over their faces.

As young Jorge realizes that he just stumbled onto two dead bodies, he makes his way to the nearest phone to call in the find. The local police and journalists tried to put the puzzle pieces together from what little evidence they had, only to come out scratching their heads. 45 years later the mystery known as the “lead masks case” is still riddled with theories such as suicide, murder and alien abduction.

Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana were electrical engineers who made a living repairing televisions. As the story goes, the men lived in Campos dos Goytacazes. An area north of Rio de Janeiro. The two were good friends and were often seen working together. On August 17th, 1966, the men had mentioned to their relatives that they needed to buy some supplies for work and would be gone for the afternoon. The men then hopped on a bus heading to Niterói. Three hours and one hundred and sixty miles away. Three days later, on August 20th, Jorge stumbles onto the bodies of the two television repairmen.

Police and journalists make their way to the bodies only to find them in a severe state of decomposition. Immediately the investigators make note of what was found near the bodies. An empty bottle of water, a package containing two towels and a notebook with what is described as a cryptic note.

“16:30Hs estar local determinado. 18:30Hs. ingerir cápsula após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal mascara.”

  “16:30Hs be at the determined place.  18:30 swallow capsule after effect protect metals wait for mask signal.”

I wonder what the detectives thought of when they read the cryptic note. Suicide? Maybe. But what about the lead masks? Murder then?

If Manoel Pereira and Miguel José were murdered, what was the purpose? Obviously money would be an objective, but I doubt both men had a lot of it. Could it be some form of cult-like suicide? No mention of any cult or religious activity has been pinned to the dead men by friends and relatives.

Lead masks found on bodies
Lead masks found on bodies

If we step out of our realm for a momentary alternate explanation, we can ask if the men were time travelers. Could these men have been ages ahead of 1960s technology and actually found a way to travel through time? This theory is a popular one when discussing the “lead masks case”. People speculate that since both Manoel and Miguel were fascinated with UFOs and electronics, maybe they had found a way to bend space and time in such manner that allowed them to glimpse or visit distant worlds. Which sounds like a far-out theory that reminds me of some other scientist, one who wore a permeable coat and radiation protection mask as well.

But come now! Let’s get serious for a moment. We all know what this mystery is about, don’t we? I’m talking about UFOs people!

Both Manoel Pereira and Miguel José were avid UFO enthusiasts who were aware that 160 miles away was a recent UFO hotspot. Vintém Hill was known as a local UFO hotspot after many residents claimed to have witnessed strange aerial lights. As one theory suggests, the men were in contact with extraterrestrials and had made the 160 mile final destination with the intent of committing suicide to join the mothership. I wonder if Manoel and Miguel wore these Nike shoes?

Yes, that’s the infamous “Heaven’s gate suicide” photo with the members shown wearing Nike shoes. Something of a pop culture phenomenon I suppose.

Of course I use it not to make light of the mass suicide that occurred in 1997, but to point out that the “Heaven’s Gate” cult believed that suicide would assist them in getting on board an extraterrestrial mothership which they believed was following the Comet Hale-Bopp.

Maybe this is how E.T. harvests humans, by communicating with us telepathically and telling us that in order for us to hitch a ride with them, we must kill ourselves first. If that’s the case, E.T. is one evil-trolling son of a bitch.

So then, what really happen on Vintém Hill ?

Did the men make contact with a UFO? Or were they the victims of a robbery gone wrong? If we opt to go with the robbery explanation, then what do you make of the cryptic note, the distance traveled by the men and the fact that no signs of foul play were found?

Now, if you were to go with the UFO explanation, then you will be surprised to learn that residents in Vintém Hill, had reported seeing strange UFO-like lights near the vicinity in which Jorge, the kite-flying teenager, had his world flipped upside down when he met the men in the lead masks.

  • MrSam


    Do you really think that it is plausible for a person(s) to think too themselves;
    “Hmm, I’m all out of cloth for a blindfold, what else do I have lying around?”

  • LeaLlama9

    On a less paranormal note, what if they were being extorted? Go out to the middle of nowhere, dress like this, do that. I know there’s no evidence to say this is true, but there’s no evidence at all, really.
    Is it certain one of the men wrote the note? It seems purposely vague.

  • John Keel would undoubtedly chalk this up as another contactee murder/suicide and attribute the men’s behaviour and dress (IDENTICAL suits? rad masks?) as evidence they had been in contact with those tricksters who pretend to be aliens from other worlds, rather than “demons” or “fairies” from our own…

  • Dave

    Didn’t angel Gabriel ask humans to stay away when the angels descended as it could hurt them? I always found that interesting. Could it have been a craft. I also found it funny that they may be able to travel great distances, but they couldn’t build a craft that would pass emission tests. That’s technological advancement for you!

  • I think that they were tricked into taking poison capsules by some psycho who convinced them of a crazy event that was going to happen. The other possibility I thought about was that one of the two dead men got into some kind of trouble that ended up involving the other dead guy which led to some freaky murder suicide. Or they were trying out an experiment working with radiation and something went wrong. The only problem is that is the most i could come up with from the information i gathered, and each theory is full of holes. this case out of all the ones I’ve studied, leaved me stumped more than anything.

  • randy

    how about they died of lead poisoning after they made the masks…..

  • Common Sense

    This is no mystery. They swallowed capsules that killed them. Somebody wanted them dead and tricked them into this big job they were going to do. No toxicology report which would have solved this and made it no mystery. The fact that there was 0 radiation found eliminates any UFO theory.

  • Sunrisekid

    maybe they were gay and in love, couldnt handle this fact, as in 1966 they would not be excepted, thought to them selves dying together and making up a alternative version of a story, which wouldnt stigmatized ther memory and they were ufo belivers anyway, so they thought up this plan to make lead eye protections, went to the hill as they knew it was a ufo hot spot! took cyanide pills, put on the lead eye gurads and waited to die.

    The water was simple to help swallow the capules, I don’t know what happen, this is just my theory. sad ending for them anyway, may they rest in peace!! just best to say a pray for their souls.

  • Garth Haslam

    What’s your source for the various pictures?

  • eric jarvie

    You fail to point out an military coup had recently taken place in brazil…and right wingers are extremely dumb people…indeed so dumb that rather than sacrifice the highly trained highly secretive intelligence agents who track investigate and even bring down and recover UFO’s and this at the cost of perhaps of there own lives…the right wing military establishment of brazil decided to enlist local electricians to do the work in foolishly blasting UFO’s with patheticly construcuted radio logical equipment..the just as dumb right wing establishment and at the height of the orgy of its violence of the coup and its sick death squads probably took possession of US radiological equipment that claimed to be able to bring down UFO’s…and employed local electricians to operate this equipment but this rough workmanship that publically left dead bodies on brazilian hill tops with murder cops to investigate and families and communities with lost loved ones to miss was done simply in the name and because UFO’s had not only an history of jamming and destroying anything that interferes with there craft but also just as severly the personell that may operate it…clearly these two dumb electricians and another local dumb electrician killed in an similiar fashion just some years previously had been paid by the militia as foolishly believing themselves to be some kind of secret agents judging by the smart suits the high brazilian military echelons had thrust themselves into and stupidly ignorant of the deaths of many brave men in similiar circumstances take US air force pilot Capt Mantell as an very public example..had there lives taken and for no mortal gain…other than the very public embarrassment of an failed mission that went very wrong…thus three fool electricians where killed for simply daring in tampering with UFO’s something only the very highly skilled highly experienced person should really attempt..this case is an embarrassment to the nation of Brazil..!!