A young autistic girl was strangled to death and tied to a tree by a 12-year-old boy, police have said.
Raíssa Caparelli went missing from a charity event she was attending with her family in São Paulo, Brazil last Sunday.
Her body was discovered roughly 2.5 miles away from the festival, bound by a rope to a tree in the city’s municipal park.
Although part of cord was wrapped around her neck, investigators do not believe she was hanged as her bare feet were ‘flat on the ground’.
A 12-year-old boy has allegedly confessed to the killing.
The girl’s distraught mother, Rosevânia, told Brazilian Record TV: “This tragedy has ripped my heart out. Raíssa was a sweet, docile child.
“Because of her autism she was scared and timid and did not relate well to strangers.”
Detectives suggested the child was conscious throughout the vicious assault, which left her face covered in blood.
Chief superintendent Eduardo Marturano said: “The injuries to her face were so severe it was difficult to even identify her.”
The victim also suffered brutal injuries to her shoulders and deep wounds to her body and legs.
No weapons were found at the crime scene but forensics suspect that a piece of wood, possibly a branch from a tree, was used to repeatedly batter the victim, which possibly contributed to her death.
The cause of death – which is thought to be asphyxiation – will be confirmed within the next couple of weeks.
There were allegedly signs of sexual abuse.
A brown man’s sock was found tied around her left arm together with a blue hair band.
Security cameras captured the child, who was wearing a pink outfit, crossing a road and walking hand in hand with the accused boy at around 12:30pm.
In a statement made to police, the suspect claimed he was ‘just walking’ with the victim.
They were said to be friends who lived on the same street, played together and studied at the same school.
Her body was found at around 2pm on the same day by park security officers who alerted the police after the youth reportedly alerted them to its location.
He allegedly told wardens he had been taking a short cut through the woods when he ‘spotted a body hanging from a tree’ in an area where access is restricted to park employees.
Splatters of blood were found in the area near where the girl was found, along with a pair of flip-flops, a small transparent plastic bag and a large red waterproof cape.
The schoolboy’s mother took him to the police station on Monday after he confessed in front of relatives to committing the crime, police said.
He claimed he ‘hit her legs and her face, then tied her up while she was still conscious and continued to beat her’.
The police chief corroborated this statement.
He said: “We believe the accused started assaulting Raíssa before reaching the tree. First he hit her and then used a branch. We are still searching for the branch.”
Under police questioning, the boy only gave one word answers.
After confessing to the murder he changed his testimony, claiming a man on a green bike with several tattoos, who he named as “Baianinho”, threatened him with a knife and forced him to help kill the girl.
The police chief said: “Our investigations also continue with the intention of identifying other potential perpetrators of the crime.
“However, there are many contradictions and inconsistencies in the boy’s statement.
“He claimed they took a bus to the park after leaving the festival and allegedly told park wardens that he didn’t recognise the body of the girl. Both of which are not true.”
The girl went missing from her mother Rosevânia after she left her queuing with the boy for a turn on a trampoline.
When she returned from a trip to get popcorn, her daughter had disappeared.
A hunt was immediately launched by festival organisers and concerned visitors.
The devastated mum said: “Over the last few weeks my daughter had become friends with the boy. We live less than a hundred metres away on the same street.
“She was very close to me and would hardly leave my side, but in recent days she had grown confident enough to play with the (schoolboy) outside.
“Last month, because he seemed to be encouraging my child to become more sociable, I took him to a church service with her as a treat.”
Marturano said he is awaiting a psychological report on the youngster who has apparently refused to give a motive for the crime.
If found guilty, judges will have to determine whether the accused should be hospitalised for a minimum of three years or detained in a youth offenders prison.