Japanese woman Hitomi Akamatsu found dead at retreat owned by disgraced Brazilian guru

  • Police have arrested Rafael Lima da Costa, an 18-year-old who confessed to killing her during a robbery
  • Victim had been seeking treatment for radioactive exposure she said she had received in Japan’s Fukushima blast

A Japanese woman has been found murdered in Brazil, where she had sought treatment at a spiritual retreat owned spiritual guru Joao Teixeira de Faria, known as “John of God”.

Hitomi Akamatsu, 43, was found on Monday by a waterfall on property belonging to the self-proclaimed healer, who became a celebrity after appearing on a show hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

The guru later fell from grace after being convicted of raping women at his retreat.

Police have arrested Rafael Lima da Costa, an 18-year-old who confessed to killing Akamatsu on November 10 during a robbery. Police tracked him using security camera footage and found where he had burned clothes, according to detective Isabela Silva.

It may be difficult to send her back to Japan, Silva said.

“Due to her body being in an advanced stage of putrefaction, we don’t know if we will be able to embalm her,” Silva said.

Rafael Lima da Costa, who confessed to killing Japanese woman Hitomi Akamatsu, 43, is escorted by a police officer in Abadiania, Brazil on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
Rafael Lima da Costa, who confessed to killing Japanese woman Hitomi Akamatsu, 43, is escorted by a police officer in Abadiania, Brazil on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Police said Akamatsu arrived at the ranch roughly two years ago to seek treatment for radioactive exposure she said she had received from Japan’s Fukushima blast.

She had stayed on after John of God’s arrest and was well-known by residents in the town of Abadiania, some 120km (75 miles) southwest of the federal capital Brasilia.

Japan’s embassy in Brazil said in a Wednesday statement that it had been informed of her death by local police on November 16.

Japanese diplomats said they were liaising with officials and those who needed to be alerted to her death, without giving more information.

REUTERS/SCMP

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