Murder of Daniella Perez completes 30 years; remember the case that shocked the country

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It was the night of December 28, 1992 when actress Daniella Perez took a while to get home after work. At the time, she played the young Yasmin in “De Corpo e Alma”, a telenovela from Globo’s prime track written by her mother, Gloria Perez.

Who noticed her delay was her husband, also actor Raul Gazolla. While he was trying to find out where Daniella was, in another part of Rio de Janeiro, in the middle of a thicket in Barra da Tijuca (in the then sparsely populated west zone of the city), a body was found.

A few calls later, the police confirmed that it was the body of the then 22-year-old actress, who had been stabbed to death. The cadaveric report accounted for between 16 and 20 perforations, most in the chest and neck region.

When she died, Daniella was on a high. Gradually, she was becoming one of the soap opera’s darlings and was already called by some “Brazil’s sweetheart” —a reflection of the success phase and the admiration she had been conquering from the public.

The young woman who shone on television, in fact, had started in another art: dance. She had been doing ballet since she was a little girl and even worked in the company of choreographer Carlota Portella, before appearing in the opening of the telenovela “Kananga doJapan”, by the extinct Manchete (it was backstage in that production that she met Gazolla).

In 1990, she won her first role, as a supporting role in “Barriga de Aluguel”, her mother’s soap opera for the 6pm slot on Globo. The following year, she gained more prominence in “O Dono do Mundo”, a plot by Gilberto Braga for the station’s 8 pm time slot.

The career was on the rise when “De Corpo e Alma” premiered the following year. In the plot, her character, Yasmin, lived a romance with Caio, played by Fábio Assunção, but had an involvement with Bira, a bus driver played by the beginner Guilherme de Pádua.

It was Padua who was responsible for the tragic outcome of the actress’s life. The police came to him because of a witness who would have seen his car, with a doctored license plate, at the crime scene. His then wife, Paula Thomaz, who was pregnant, would have helped in the crime.

The press at the time reported that there were signs that the actress had been killed in a ritual sacrifice of black magic. Rumors also began to circulate that Daniella and Pádua were having an extramarital affair, which has always been denied by her family.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

In one of the most mediatic trials in Brazil, Pádua and Thomaz, who separated shortly after the crime, began to present different versions. She denied that she had participated. He, on the other hand, who had taken the blame in statements to the police, went on to maintain that the woman, overcome with jealousy, was the one who had fought with Daniella in the undergrowth.

The thesis accepted by Justice, however, is that the crime occurred because Padua was having her role in the soap opera reduced and plotted revenge for believing that the colleague was manipulating her mother. Thomaz’s jealousy, who saw the actress as a threat to his marriage, would also have contributed to the consummation of the crime.

In the months following the murder, Gloria Perez mobilized the public and collected more than 1.3 million signatures to include aggravated homicide in the Heinous Crimes Law. The change, which brought longer and stricter sentences for this type of crime, was in fact incorporated into the legislation, but it did not apply to the Daniella Perez murder trial.

Both Pádua and Thomaz were convicted by the jury, with sentences of less than 20 years in prison. Both were paroled in 1999 after serving a third of their sentence. She changed her last name and has avoided the press ever since, while he became a Baptist minister in Belo Horizonte and married makeup artist Juliana Lacerda in 2017.

This year, when Daniella’s death completes 30 years, the actress’s story returned to the spotlight with the critical and public success of the documentary series “Brutal Pact – The Assassination of Daniella Perez”, on HBO Max. In October, the book “Daniella Perez: Biography, Crime and Justice”, by Bernardo Braga Pasqualette, was also released by Record.

Nobody was prepared, however, for an outcome that would still come days later. On November 6, Guilherme de Pádua died at the age of 53, due to a heart attack. The date coincided with the 27th anniversary of the premiere of “Explode Coração”, the first soap opera that Gloria Perez wrote after her daughter’s death.

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