A father of three children he adopted with his same-sex partner has been arrested after they burned to death in a house fire in Brazil.
Ricardo Reis de Farias e Vieira, 33, was arrested in southern Sao Paulo state following a fire at his house on Wednesday which killed biological siblings Fernanda, 14, and Gabriel, nine, and two-year-old Lorenzo.
Police reportedly became suspicious of Ricardo after he told them he couldn’t hear his children amid the blaze, but neighbours recalled hearing one of the boys shout: ‘Dad, don’t leave us here to die’.
Ricardo Reis de Farias e Vieira, 33 (right), has been arrested in Brazil after a fire killed his three children – Fernanda (right), Gabriel (bottom left) and Lorenzo (centre) – who he had adopted with same-sex partner Leandro, 36 (left)
Biological siblings Fernanda (left) and Gabriel (right) were adopted by the couple in 2014, while the youngest, Lorenzo, was adopted in 2019
Ricardo claims he was woken by smoke in his Sao Paulo house on Wednesday morning before running to get police because he was unable to get into his children’s room
Ricardo had adopted the two elder children with his partner Leandro Jose Reis de Farias e Vieira, 36, in 2014, and the pair then adopted the youngest son in 2019.
Ricardo and Leandro were married for 15 years but had recently separated and were sharing custody, with the children spending a week at each house.
They were staying with Ricardo on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in their room, local media reports.
Ricardo told investigators he was woken by smoke and couldn’t get into the children’s room, so ran to the local police station for help.
Police raced back to the house and broke down the door of the children’s bedroom, but cold not enter because the flames were too hot.
Instead, they were forced to wait for the arrival of firefighters who managed to get the blaze under control so officers could enter.
Once inside, they found the charred remains of the three children – one in the bathroom, one in the corner of the bedroom, and another by a window.
Police became suspicious of Ricardo (right) because of ‘inconsistencies’ in his story, including his claim that the children never called out despite a neighbour saying one shouted ‘don’t leave us here to die’
Ricardo (right) had been married to Leandro (left) for 15 years but the couple had split up recently and were sharing custody of their children
Leandro, who lives 50 miles away, arrived a short time later and in shock.
Police announced on Thursday that Ricardo had been arrested, but stressed that he is not yet being charged and they are still investigating multiple possibilities.
Police chief Eliardo Jordão said the arrest would allow officers to investigate faster, including probing some inconsistencies in Ricardo’s statements.
Jordão said inconsistencies included Ricardo’s claim that he was woken by smoke, when neighbours recalled hearing the children scream.
He said the door to the children’s room was also locked, and police want to know who locked it and why.
Officers are also trying to work out why the youngest child, who typically sleeps in a room with Ricardo, was instead sleeping in a room with his siblings.
Police say they arrested Ricardo to assist with their investigations and say he is not yet a suspect and hasn’t bee charged (his burned-out house, pictured)
According to Leandro, Ricardo had tried to get back together a few months ago, claiming it did not make sense to live without a united family.
Friends and family of the two men say they were devoted to their children, and couldn’t imagine either man doing anything to hurt them.
In 2019, the family were even interviewed on TV to talk about the benefits of adopting children.
‘There is no right or wrong family. The important thing is love,’ Fernanda had said at the time.
The investigation continues.