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Innocence Shattered: The Tragic Tale of Felipe Lavina’s Murder and Elen Cristina’s Controversial Conviction

Felipe Lavina, at 27 years old, a father of a 9-year-old boy, was a picture of youth and vitality.

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A Vibrant Life Cut Short

He was a successful young man who co-owned two gyms, one located in Mesquita and another in Belford Roxo, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He displayed his passion for life both in his work and leisure. His interests were diverse, and he loved extreme activities like surfing, skateboarding, and rappelling.

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A Nightmarish Robbery Plan Unveiled

Felipe had an excellent relationship with his parents, to the extent that he practically lived in the same house as them, occupying the third floor of the house, which had its own entrance.

By Felipe’s side was Elen Cristina Cury Ferreira, a 23-year-old woman.

Elen’s Controversial Role

Described by her family as a quiet and trouble-free young woman, Elen had a special ability to communicate. The couple’s social media accounts were filled with travel and happy moments shared between them, confirming the account of Rita de Cássia da Silva, Felipe’s mother, regarding their good relationship. Rita not only trusted Elen but also invited her to share family meals.

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Unfortunately, the routine of this young couple took a tragic turn in the early hours of Sunday, October 26, 2015. At 4:15 AM, Felipe and Elen were awakened in his house by three masked and armed men.

Twists in the Investigation

The intruders knew what they wanted and the names of the couple. They were searching for a safe that was in Felipe’s room, where, according to the information they had, there was approximately 300,000 reais. Elen, at that moment, was paralyzed with fear when the masked men appeared, saying “it’s death” to the couple, a sentence that made her fear for her life immediately.

Downstairs, Felipe’s mother was awakened, startled by an unusual noise coming from above.

The Shocking Trial and Sentencing

She peeked through a crack in her bedroom balcony and saw a hooded man just above. She immediately alerted her husband, Wilson Machado Lavina. Frightened, Felipe’s parents remained in their room, trying to understand what was happening above them.

As the amount found in Felipe’s safe was no more than 10,000 reais, which the young man would use to pay his gym employees, the criminals took a Fiat Punto from the garage, which belonged to Felipe’s brother. They forced the couple into the car and drove away.

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The criminals didn’t just take the money from the safe. They also took clothing, cell phones, and other electronics. Felipe and his girlfriend were blindfolded, and after driving through several streets, the kidnappers told Felipe, blindfolded and wearing only underwear, to step out of the car and face away.

Lingering Questions and the Pursuit of Justice

In the next instant, Elen would hear gunshots: Felipe was executed with three shots to the head. This cowardly crime didn’t occur on just any day but on the day of his son’s 9th birthday.

Then, according to Elen’s account, the criminals hit her and threatened to set the car on fire with her inside. After driving a few more streets, she was left not far from where Felipe had just been executed. She ran and sought refuge in a bakery, where she called her father.

Afterward, Elen allegedly contacted Felipe’s family, recounting what had just happened.

Gilva Feitosa, Felipe’s brother’s mother-in-law, was one of the first family members to arrive. She saw Felipe’s lifeless body on the ground, while Elen sat on the opposite sidewalk. Upon seeing her, Elen got up and approached her. Gilva asked what had happened to them. Elen, crying copiously, said she had tried to stop them and begged them not to hurt him. Gilva comforted her, although she found it odd that Elen was sitting across the street rather than close to Felipe.

Namorada suspeita de encomendar morte de dono de academia na Baixada deixa a cadeia - Casos de Polícia - Extra OnlineIn her statement to the police, Elen said the assailants had an intimate knowledge of Felipe’s house, knowing not only the layout of the residence but also about the safe’s existence. This fact suggested that the crime might have been planned and that perhaps someone close to Felipe was involved.

Another crucial piece of information for investigators was the absence of signs of forced entry at the house. The police began to consider that the door might have been left unlocked, intentionally or unintentionally, making it easier for the criminals to access.

Several family members were called in to give statements, and Felipe’s body was sent for a necropsy examination. While the forensics team conducted an on-site analysis of the crime scene, investigators searched for clues and witnesses.

Soon, the news of Felipe’s execution spread and made headlines nationwide. On the morning of the following Monday, he was buried in a cemetery in Mesquita, with the strong presence of family, friends, and students from his gyms. Elen was present at the funeral, consoling and being comforted by many.

However, a few of Felipe’s family members remained somewhat suspicious of Elen. At times, she didn’t appear to be deeply affected by the situation, and she was often seen well-dressed, with makeup and her hair done. Some felt it wasn’t the occasion to find time to groom herself. Rita, Felipe’s mother, who was inconsolable, wanted answers and justice for this brutal act.

In the statement that Elen gave to the police and also revealed to family members, there was a point that raised doubts and drew attention. She claimed to have been struck with the butt of a gun twice that night, but neither the police nor Felipe’s family noticed any marks or bruises on her face or head that could confirm her account.

In a significant development for the investigation, one week after the crime, a 17-year-old young man, who had a prior criminal record, was apprehended, accused of involvement in the crime that claimed Felipe’s life. According to the young man’s account, there were three other participants in the crime, but they had been killed by drug dealers who were irritated by the intense media attention and the resulting police presence in the neighborhood they controlled.

The boy’s father, fearing for his son’s life, decided to cooperate and took him to the police station to share what he knew. Once in custody, the young man revealed his role in the crime.

According to the boy, his responsibility was merely to watch Felipe’s house and he had only witnessed what happened. In addition to detailing the violence Felipe endured that night, the young man provided information that would completely change the course of the investigation and shock everyone. He claimed that Elen had ordered Felipe’s death. The young man asserted that a few days before the crime, Elen had approached one of the criminals named “Semente” and arranged with him for Felipe’s robbery and killing. With her help, they had found all the doors of the house unlocked.

Based on this new information, on the night of Thursday, November 12, Felipe’s girlfriend was arrested after going to the police station to give a statement. The police were convinced of Elen’s involvement in her boyfriend’s murder, and the likely motivation appeared to be financial.

“What initially seemed to be just a homicide now reveals itself as a meticulously orchestrated crime. Elen not only planned but also executed it. We are dealing with a typical case where one partner sees the opportunity to inherit all assets after the other’s death,” declared the detective.

The Civil Police confirmed that two of the criminals had been killed over drug debts and retaliation, including the one who took Felipe’s life, known as “Semente.” A third criminal remained alive and was still missing.

However, a few days later, on November 16, authorities arrested the one who had been missing, Luigi Cirino dos Santos, aged 20. While he admitted his involvement, having driven the vehicle used in the kidnapping, he claimed not to be aware of any connection between Elen and the crime, contradicting the previous account provided by the young man.

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For Felipe’s mother, Rita de Cássia, the pain of losing her son was compounded by the police’s suspicion that Elen might be involved in it all. “He was happy with her. It was very sad when I learned that she was in jail. She was someone in our midst,” she lamented.

Elen was eventually released a few days later and returned to her family’s home, remaining secluded for some days. Her friends, trying to lift her spirits, invited her for a day at the beach, an invitation she accepted. Photos of Elen, smiling by the sea, were shared on social media. These images, combined with the fact that she was free and enjoying the beach, outraged Felipe’s family. She appeared to be living as if nothing had happened.

However, a month after her release, both Elen and Luigi, who had also been released, were detained again. A new arrest warrant alleged that both could pose a threat to Felipe’s family. Elen, however, claimed to have never approached their residence.

After spending approximately four months in custody, Elen was released once more on May 25, 2016, after the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice decided, by a vote of two to one, that she could await trial while at liberty.

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On a Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 1 year and 9 months after Felipe’s murder, Elen was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison for being considered the mastermind behind her boyfriend’s robbery and killing. The verdict emphasized that Elen, taking advantage of Felipe’s trust, had facilitated the entry of the assailants into their home, masterminding the crime with coldness. Elen, who had already been awaiting sentencing while at liberty, could continue to do so while appealing the decision. Luigi, one of the accomplices, was also convicted and received a 20-year prison sentence in a closed regime.

One family was left with a death certificate, a son was left without a father. Felipe’s family celebrated the conviction, but with Elen remaining free during her appeal, they were not completely satisfied.

The detective, the prosecutor, the judge, and Felipe’s family—all were convinced of Elen’s guilt and premeditation. However, the only evidence that supported all this conviction and conviction was the word of an underage person with a prior criminal record, which, of course, raises counterarguments and makes some people truly believe in Elen’s innocence.

Legally, with the police having gathered only fragile evidence, with no real evidence of Elen’s communication with the criminals, can she reverse her situation and secure an acquittal, claiming her alleged innocence?

Since her conviction, there has been no further news about Elen.

 

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