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Maria Nilce dos Santos Magalhães
July 15, 1989


She was 48 and organized fashion and charity events. She owned a gallery of art and Peruvian handicrafts and loved traveling and write about it. The five books she wrote bear this out. She took care of her health and stayed physically fit. Her gym, "Body and Movement." was only three blocks from her home in Vitoria, capital of Espirito Santo, Brazil. Usually she walked there with her second daughter, Milla, but on July 15, 1989, at 6:30 am, the journalist Maria Nilce dos Santos decided to go by car; Milla was driving because she had to go straight to the university where she studied.

When they arrived, a bus was stopped in front of the gym so they stopped the car a few feet away. The reporter opened the door and got out. But just as she stepped down she  caught sight of a man nearby pointing a gun at her head. He shot, but the bullet jammed-- amidst Milla’s screams as she witnessed the whole scene. Desperate, Maria ran to the bus. The stranger followed her inside the public bus and, to the astonishment of the shocked passengers, let off four shots. Three hit Maria Nilce who was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

The cause appears to have been the criticism leveled by the director of Jornal da Cidade (City Journal) in her social column where she sometimes printed the names of people possibly involved in drug trafficking.

The court process was fraught with irregularities. Multiple judges and prosecutors passed through the files and dockets. The justice minister, José Saulo Pereira Ramos, recommended a rigorous inquiry, requested cooperation from the Federal Police and designated Prosecutor Gilberto Fabiano to handle the case. Fabiano’s final report accused as suspects José Alayr Andreatta and his friend Romualdo Eustaquio da Luz Faria as go-between with the gunman José Sasso and the policeman César Narcizo da Silva.

Soon after, the suspects were set free. 17 years after the crime, in May 2007, the Espirito Santo Court accused businessman Jose Alayr Andreatta of allegedly masterminding the crime and took him into custody,. Djalma, Maria Nilce’s widower, maintained that he was merely a middle man and that his wife was the victim of organized crime – many people from the local high society were interested in her death -- so there should be a more thorough investigation. A committee from the Chamber of Deputies declared that this case of a murdered journalist is just one more example of impunity.

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