Last Photos of Murder Victims in Brazil Found on Recovered Phone

Indigenous activists have recovered a phone belonging to Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, two men murdered last year while reporting in the Brazilian Amazon. Phillips, a longtime contributor to The Guardian, and Periera, a local Indigenous activist, went missing on the Itaquai River on June 5, 2022.

After a 10-day search, the lead suspect, Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, confessed to shooting Phillips and Pereira and led authorities to their bodies. Brazilian authorities also charged two other men, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira (Amarildo da Costa Oliveira’s brother) and Jefferson da Silva Lima (the brothers’ cousin). The three men are currently awaiting trial.

Last October, members of Univaja — the Indigenous activist group where Pereira worked — used metal detectors and other methods to recover some of the Phillips’ and Pereira’s belongings. Among the belongings they found were two spiral notebooks, Phillips’ press card, and one of two phones carried by Pereira.

The phone contains pictures and videos from the pair’s four-day research trip along the Itaquai River. One of the photos shows Phillips speaking to Amarildo da Costa Oliveira’s brother-in-law on June 5, minutes before casting off from the village of São Rafael. It is the last known photo of Phillips. Just a few minutes later, the two came under attack.


The two videos recovered from the phone show da Costa Oliveira traveling by boat up and down the river and corroborate a timeline put together by prosecutors based on the da Costa Oliveira brothers’ initial confession.

The men’s motive, prosecutors told The Guardian last year, was that they witnessed Pereira photograph their boat. Phillips and Pereira were researching the activities of illegal fishermen at the time. The da Costa Oliveira brothers have since changed their story, claiming self-defense. Friends and family of Phillips and Pereira have roundly condemned this claim.

A powerful legacy

After the murders of Phillips and Pereira, The Guardian launched the Bruno and Dom Project. The goal of the project is to “honor and pursue the work of Bruno and Dom, to foreground the importance of the Amazon and its people, and to suggest possible ways to save the Amazon.”

The Bruno and Dom Project is a collaborative effort between “15 other international news organizations in a collaborative investigation into organized crime and resource extraction in the Brazilian Amazon,” The Guardian stated. “The initiative has been coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based non-profit whose mission is to continue the work of reporters who are threatened, censored or killed.”

Pereira was an activist associated with Univaja, an organization dedicated to helping Indigenous patrol teams halt the activities of illegal poachers, miners, and loggers in the Javari Valley.

Phillips was a 15-year resident of Brazil who’d been working on a book titled How to Save the Amazon. The reporting trip when he was murdered was scheduled to be his last in service of the book.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).