Woman who took her dead uncle to a bank in failed attempt to obtain $3,250 loan in his name is now being investigated for manslaughter

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - A Brazilian woman who wheeled her dead uncle into a bank to obtain a loan in his name is now being investigated for manslaughter over his death.

Érika de Souza, 42, was aware that her Paulo Braga, 68, had died when she attempted to withdraw $3,250 from the bank on April 16, the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police said in a report filed with the state Public Ministry on Tuesday, April 30.

'She knew this fact (of death), as he is (in the video) with his head down and without any movement, however, right before entering, she holds him by the neck so that he has his head up, simulating a person alive,' Civil Police chief Fabio Souza said in his findings, which were obtained by TV Globo.

De Souza, a mother-of-six, is being held in pretrial detention and is facing vilification of a corpse and attempted theft through fraud charges.

Surveillance video cameras showed Braga being removed from a ride share app car in the mall parking lot and de Souza later wheeling Braga through the mall while he sat motionless in the wheelchair.

The security camera footage also captured de Souza standing next to Braga and then walking away to the restroom.

A bank employee was then seen leaving her seat and approaching Braga to support his head it fell backward, not knowing that he was already dead. De Souza returned with a cup of water for her uncle and tried to give it to him.

In the viral video recorded by one of the bank workers de Souza was seen bizarrely telling Braga, 'Uncle, are you listening? You need to sign,' as she placed a pen near his right hand.

At one point, de Souza told the teller, 'He doesn't say anything, that's just how he is,' and turned to her uncle and mentioned that she was going to take him to the hospital if he wasn't feeling well.

The bankers were worried about de Souza's behavior and called the police. Paramedics were dispatched to the bank and tried to revive Braga.

Investigators found that Braga had already been dead for about two hours because there were cadaver marks visible on his head.

'There is no doubt that Érika knew about Paulo's death, but, as it was her last chance to withdraw the money from the loan, she entered the bank with the corpse, simulated for several minutes that he was alive, even pretending to give water, took the pen and held his hand close to the hand of Paulo's corpse,' Souza said.

'However, as the bank employees did not disperse their attention, he was unable to sign.'

Souza report also indicated that de Souza had set up her own bank account to get the money from Braga and that she also went to the bank by herself to withdraw the loan money.

The loan had already been approved but the funds were not withdrawn because Braga had been hospitalized for a week and was not discharged until April 15, the day before he died.

Souza's statement stressed that Braga was already dead when de Souza took him to the bank.

'Inside the branch, she continues with this simulation while waiting for assistance, as she remains holding her neck and when she lets go, his head "falls" backwards, which is impossible to happen to a living person,' Souza said.

‘So, she holds it again and pretends to be talking, but she lets go of her neck once again and her head falls down again, holding her back.’

De Souza's son, Lucas Nunes, revealed she has been under medication and had tried to commit suicide on several occasions.

In 2023, a psychiatrist requested that she be hospitalized because she had become too dependent on sedatives and hypnotics.

'She has been going through difficult times. She has been experiencing disorders,' Nunes said. 'She has psychological and psychiatric support.'

The family claimed that Braga had requested the loan on March 25. He intended to use the money to repair the home where he lived with de Souza and three of her children.

'My mother raised six children. And she never needed to steal or deceive anyone to do so,' Nunes added.

'My mother guided her children towards life, and she guided them very well, teaching us the path of studies, the path of what is correct.'

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