MIAMI (AFP) - Three murders of women in Florida some 20 years ago were committed by a Brazilian serial killer who later died in a plane crash, police said Tuesday (Aug 31).
Roberto Wagner Fernandes, who lived in Miami in the 1990s and early 2000s, may be responsible for other murders, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.
"I believe there are other cases out there and that is part of our ongoing investigation," said Broward County Detective Zachary Scott.
Police said Fernandes had been charged in Brazil with murdering his wife in 1996 but was acquitted and moved to Miami, where he worked as a flight attendant and a tour bus driver.
He is suspected of murdering three women in Florida who suffered from drug addiction and had engaged in prostitution.
The first victim was Kimberly Dietz-Livesey, whose body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in June 2000. Two months later, the body of another woman, Sia Demas, was found inside a duffel bag by the side of a road.
A third victim, Jessica Good, was stabbed to death. Her body was found floating in Biscayne Bay in Miami in August 2001.
After becoming a suspect in Good's murder, Fernandes fled to Brazil, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
In 2011, investigators were able to match DNA and fingerprints from Good's murder to the murders of Dietz-Livesey and Demas in Broward County and the hunt for Fernandes resumed.
After learning that Fernandes, a licensed pilot, had reportedly been killed in a 2005 plane crash while flying from Brazil to Paraguay, the authorities went looking for his grave. "We had to confirm whether the death was real or not," said Sergeant Nikoli Trifonov. "People may fake their death, especially after committing a murder."
Fernandes' remains were exhumed several months ago and the American authorities were able to conclusively match his DNA to the three Florida murders.