Pregnant Woman and Passenger Tied Up and Burned Alive in Car, Police Say

A pregnant woman and her passenger were tied up and burned alive in a car during a "very cruel" murder, detectives have said.

The remains of 24-year-old Ellen Priscila Ferreira da Silva and her passenger Ely Carlos dos Santos, 39, were found after the car was doused in petrol and set alight on October 17 near Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Their bodies were identified after family members recognized the car that had belonged to da Silva's mother, local media reported.

Da Silva's married lover, 38, who is understood to be the father of her unborn baby, is among several people to have been arrested in connection with the deaths.

Investigator Paulo de Tarso told local media that two other men aged 19 and 35, and a 36-year-old woman had been arrested.

"It was a premeditated and very cruel crime," he said. "One of the suspects even personally comforted the victim's mother after her death was confirmed."

Police said the female suspect and the 19-year-old man have confessed to the crime, while the other men have denied involvement.

De Tarso said: "The victim was four months pregnant by one of the suspects, who is married. His wife, who confessed, and who is also pregnant, knew."

Police tape
File photograph of a crime scene taped off by police. Detectives are investigating after a pregnant woman and a man were tied up and burned alive in their car. Getty

A motive behind the killing has not been established, although police are investigating three possible motives: revenge, crime of passion, and drug debt.

De Tarso added: "Ellen and Ely Carlos may have been in debt to a drug dealer who was also arrested. Another point is that Ellen refused to abort the child conceived in the extramarital relationship."

According to media reports, the 38-year-old man is understood to have been the father of Ellen's baby. Australian news channel 7 News reported that the man had originally told police he was attacked on the day of the crime, but avoided being burned alive after pretending to faint.

However, he reportedly later confessed to inventing that story and self-inflicting his wounds under the effect of drugs.

Detectives are also exploring whether anyone else was involved in the incident.

"There is a fifth suspect of involvement, a teenager who has already been identified. He had the same role as the 19-year-old, that is, throwing gasoline on the victims ".

The investigation is ongoing.